Asian parents, at least older ones, are known to be stoic. While there are exceptions, most of us were brought up not having heard “I love you” or receiving warm hugs on a daily basis.
Lots have changed however with currenting parenting styles, which tend to be more communicative. There is also a growing body of evidence that shows how parental affection can positive influence children’s health and future happiness
But while no one has issues with hugs and kisses being doled out to babies and toddlers, there has been a divide when it comes to being physically chummy with older kids. Famed footballer David Beckham and his wife and Chinese celebrity Wan Han have both been criticised for giving their child a peck on the lips.
Is there a need to draw a line with affection? And should you be bothered if others are uncomfortable with the way your family communicates their love? Here are some points to consider.
Lip-kissing may become confusing in future
While a peck on the lips seems like an innocent gesture at home, some psychologists opine that a young child may mimic the same gesture in future with others outside the family without understanding that the action can be interpreted as sexual in nature by the other party.
You may either explain the boundaries of affection with your children or simply switch to giving them pecks on the cheek or forehead as they get older. It is more hygienic this way as well!
Horsing around is also a form of affection
While mummies get away with snuggles and kisses with their children without most people batting an eyelid, daddies tend to find themselves in a bind and may choose to withhold expressing their love.
However, play is also a form of affection, say psychologists. From play-wrestling and the occasional tickle to hair ruffling, these are all ways through which you can give your loving attention to the young ones.
Words matter too
Physical affection aside (and if you are uncomfortable with hugs and kisses), it is important for your children to understand your appreciation of them through what you say. It can also encourage your children to be more communicative with those around them in future.
The classic “I love you” is always a nice one to include each day before they head to school. And to cultivate gratitude at home, you can even cap each day with language like, “I’m so lucky to have you as my child.”
Note that loving language should not be conditional. For instance, the love that you extend should not be tagged to academic grades or good behaviour.
Parental instincts are key
There are wildly different levels of comfort when it comes to expressions of love and affection. At the end of the day, instead of trying to please those around you, you should go with what feels right to you, and what will help your child succeed as a person in the long run.