The gift of appropriate, meaningful touch

hand-pianoA dreaded part of my childhood piano lessons came on the days I got excused from school to go before an adjudicator for grading on my skills. I was very nervous, but I did well enough to receive small silver and gold pins signifying my competency.

At times I felt disappointed by my piano performances, and my mother seemed to know the words to say when I knew I messed up. But when her arm, slung around my drooping shoulders, pulled me close the real comfort set in. Touch can mean more than words.

Meaningful touch blesses a child physically.

father-sonWe can give almost every child a pat on the shoulder, a high five, a fist bump. Temperament is a factor in how much touch and what kind of touch a child wants. And the touch must be right for the relationship you have with that child, as well as being culturally appropriate.

5 elements to help you bless others

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 4th Annual Backpack Blessing took place in a Georgia church at the start of this school year.  The event involves taking your backpack into church, suggesting that God’s presence moves into all spheres of life.  A staff member told The Huffington Post that the blessing is meant to engage kids in the concrete reality of their lives, and to narrate that God is with them.

A symbol of God’s presence

compassIn addition to the blessing, each child was handed a compass as a sign of God’s presence in their daily life. The blessing given went something like this:

Bless these children and youth and their backpacks as they begin another school year. Keep them from fear. Guide them in the ways of justice and truth. When they are in new places and with new people, help them to remember that you will never leave them. May they always know that they are your children in the world.

When we missed the gift of genuine parental acceptance

home-repair-1563779Colton looked forward to his parents’ visit. He hadn’t seen them in almost two years. He’d saved up some small fix-it tasks to do with his dad. In the past this was their way of connecting, but his last few conversations with his father had not gone well. It’s not that they argued. Something just didn’t seem right.

As the two men worked side by side around the loft, Colton experienced frustration when he tried to talk about his life. Now 27, Colton wanted to show his father the kind of life he’d created for himself so his father would be proud. And his father was proud. But for Colton it was another unsuccessful attempt to get his father to show pride and express love in a way he could feel.