Heart Handshakes?


Heart hand shake

All kids need hugs! However, when a divorce happens in a family many times the kids lost in the shuffle moving between homes. Or the because of the stress in the lives of the parents, the children’s needs get put on hold. You might say kids lose their hugs. The heart felt moments between parent and child become few and far between and yet this is the time these kids their hugs from their parents.

When my son was in 5th grade it dawned on me one morning that it had been awhile since I had hugged him. To be honest with you I actually couldn’t even remember the last time I had hugged him.

I knew as a 5th grade boy he would be embarrassed if I suddenly gave him a big bear hug so that evening when he was sitting at the bar waiting for dinner and we were talking I walked over and gave him a side hug. You know, the one where you kind of squeeze the kid’s shoulders. It was brief and it met my need to hug my son but more than that I saw a smile cross his face. It meant a lot to him also.

The next evening when I was sitting on the couch he walked up behind me and squeezed my neck and said, “Thanks mom.” The hiatus from heart-to-heart connections had ended.

As one of those struggling and stressed single mom who was just trying to survive on a daily basis, I had lost my heart connections to both my kids. I began hugging my precious teen-age daughter too. Down through the years those hugs have carried us through some turbulent times.

  • When my mom passed away
  • When my second husband passed away from cancer
  • When my son graduated from college and then medical school
  • When the grandkids were born
  • When my daughter joined the military and left for basic training
  • When my daughter returned from being deployed to Afghanistan

I shudder to think if I had not realized how important heart-to-heart connections are to kids. All those moments in life when you need heart connections, my kids were there for me and me for them.

God designed little babies to be touched. What momma hasn’t pulled up the newborn and cradled the little one in the crook of her neck? God made toddlers and preschoolers to need momma and daddy to scoop them up and hug them. That need for physical touch doesn’t disappear as those little ones begin to grow.

In my DC4K group the kids are given a choice how they want to be greeted. At first most kids chose the fist bump or high five. A few choose the circle with a slash through it, which means, “don’t touch me!” The second week the younger boys and almost all of the girls choose the heart symbol, which means they need a hug.

Toward the end of the thirteen weeks even the most hardened fifth grade boys will choose the heart symbol at least once. And by the way when one of our precious kids points to the circle with the slash through it, I know they are in need of some one on one conversation. I have learned that is how they tell the leaders something is bothering them and they need extra attention that day.

If a parent is just not the demonstrative type, then fist bumps might be the way to go. Or ruffling the child’s hair or even a pat on the back will at least say to the child that you notice them and that you care.

If you are a single parent, how many heart handshakes have you given to your child today?

If you are a church leader or volunteer in the children’s ministry, how many heart handshakes have you given to a child of divorce today?

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2 thoughts on “Heart Handshakes?

  1. Wow, thank you Linda!

    I will incorporate this in a few weeks when the TWO DivorceCare groups that I run,in different towns, get on topic of “children”.

    Good timing, as I cover Anger tonight in one group, and a gentleman just emailed back saying is having issues with both older sons, ages 20 & 23.

    I gave him some advice on getting them to therapy but also ideas on how to stay connected to them, as they struggle greatly at the moment with the pending divorce…..

    I’ll probably mention this heart hugs concept tonight though – why wait?!

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