I always thought snuggling with your kids comes naturally to every parent and is done on an almost daily basis. Then last night, I heard a cop say that until he joined the force he didn’t realize some parents use the police to settle their arguments. It made him realize there are a lot of families who don’t understand how to parent in ways that are the healthiest for their children. I also realize many parents have the best of intentions, but let the busyness of life rob their kids of needed snuggle time.
Why do kids need snuggle time? Is it important enough to eliminate other activities or let some dishes go unwashed for a few more hours? I think it really is vital, for Christian parents especially, to snuggle with their kids. Here’s why:
- Kids need at least eight meaningful. positive touches a day to grow in healthy ways. Translation: If your kids aren’t getting healthy, meaningful touches from their parents, they will seek the physical attention they need in ways that may not be as appropriate. If your child has a deficit, you will need to spend a lot of time giving him/her a lot of appropriate physical touch to fill that hole in their lives. If your child is in an “anti-touch” stage, encourage him to sit next to you and share a blanket. You may be surprised to find how he scoots a little closer as time passes.
- Kids are more likely to open up when they are snuggling with you. The comfort of the hug, the blanket/fire and your undivided loving attention, may turn your non-talker into someone who bares his soul to you. Remember the little bird rule – if your child is a non-talker and you want him to talk, don’t turn on the television or get on your electronic device. Don’t grill and try to force conversation, just relax and “be” with your child. As soon as he becomes comfortable, he will begin talking.
- Snuggling under a warm blanket with Mom and Dad in front of the fire, drinking hot chocolate and reading the Bible will create not only wonderful memories, but your child will begin having warm fuzzy feelings about reading the Bible with you. Those feelings could very well lead your adult child to repeat the process with his own children in the future.
- Sometimes, it is actually okay to snuggle with your kids and watch a movie. The best ones are often those “G” rated movies you enjoyed as a child. As you watch, share family stories and memories. (This is when commercials can be your friend!). For teens, consider a movie that allows you to discuss godly principles while you watch. These can be deep for a more intellectual child (Movies about the Holocaust, Gandhi, etc. give lots of opportunities for discussions of biblical principles and commands.) or on a more popular cultural vein for those who want to watch teen movies. Don’t make the discussions preachy, but an exchange of ideas and thoughts.
- Snuggling is great for dream sharing. What dreams do you have for your child. Not to control the career or other personal choices of your child, but the type of person you dream your child continues to become. Of course, you want to share the dream you have of spending eternity in Heaven together. You may be surprised to hear your child’s dreams. In fact, it doesn’t hurt your child for you to share some of your personal dreams for your own life. It’s great for your child to know even “old” people (evidently a synonym for a parent of any actual chronological age!) have things they still want to learn and do and ways they hope to serve God.
So take advantage of the months of cool nights most of us have ahead. Grab a blanket, a couch, some hot chocolate and your children. Don’t tell yourself you will snuggle tomorrow, because in my experience tomorrow rarely comes in parenting. Clear your calendar for the next few hours and start snuggling. You won’t regret it!