I looked into the small bassinet and saw a beautiful baby girl crying to be touched. The new momma was laying in her bed staring out the window. Softly I asked, “Can I pick up your baby for you?” She replied, “No. I don’t want to spoil her” I began asking questions and sharing gently about the importance of touch.
Years later, I sat listening, with tears filling my eyes, as a woman shared that she hasn’t had any physical contact with her husband in years. “When did you stop touching?” I ask. The woman thinks for a moment and says, “I don’t know when it happened. It just happened over time.” She continues to share that she’s filing for a divorce. I walk away from the conversation humbled, quiet, and sad.
Science Shares the Importance of Touch
There are many different philosophies in parenting and unique needs in marriages. We all find what works for us and what doesn’t. My words are not intended to put someone else down, make anyone feel less than, or guilt anyone into another way of doing things. This is a post to encourage, inspire, and remind all of us about something so simple as touch, and its vital role in our lives!
When we purpose to build healthy relationships despite the time, work, investment, and even pain, we can have something more rewarding than one of the Worlds Seven Wonders. Just as the Great Wall of China took bricks, stones, and wood, there are many elements in building healthy relationships. Communication, trust, expressing love, loyalty, and touch are a few that I’ve found essential in my home.
The Power of Touch
Touch is an essential aspect of the development of human relationships. According to a study done in Oct. 2013 Psychology Today reports that gentle touch increases brain development. Another article, The Neuroscience of calming a baby, clearly states the vital role of touch. I encourage you to read that article if you’ve ever wondered why your baby begins to cry when you put him/her down! I found it a thought-provoking read.
These reports speak directly toward the infant stage of development.
From giving our children loving, affirming touch to touching our spouse, the importance of touch cannot be overstated; it is something we should be actively engaged in daily.
Types of Touching
The type of touching I am talking about builds each other up. It is done in a way that respects the other person’s needs and boundaries. It’s the gentle, encouraging, touch that builds healthy relationships. Participating in this type of touch teaches our children about safe and healthy, relationships.
If this sounds difficult, challenging or even foreign to you, you are not alone.
A worldwide study showed that many of us here in the US have a touching barrier that comes from our culture. The US couples observed touched two times per hour compared to Puerto Ricans who touch 180 times per hour! Research goes on to report that all humans are born with a need for touch. The lack of touch contributes to depression, anxiety, boredom, and loneliness.
So what do we do if we are not a “touchy” type of person?
How do we start developing healthy moments in our relationships with the power of touch?
First, We must be intentional to the act of loving touch to build strong, healthy relationships!
I want to give you a few ideas for touch in different stages of development and the relationships you might have. Many of these suggestions can cross over into the next age group. Use this list as a springboard to start thinking of ideas that would be unique and special for your loved ones
Touch for Different Stages
1. Make skin to skin contact part of your daily routine
2. Respond with a gentle touch, quickly, when your baby cries.
1. Hold them when they cry.
2. Make eye contact with them as you rub baby down with lotion or oil after a bath. Infant Massage is also beneficial.
3. Gently stroke their hair and face as you read a bedtime story and kiss them goodnight- Touching a child’s face builds trust between you and the child. Make sure that any contact you have with your child’s face is loving and gentle.
1. Play games with them on the floor- laughing, touching, and imagining together
2. Enjoy feeding each other snacks- to allow someone to feed you or touch inside your mouth takes a great deal of trust. If your child is uncomfortable with this at first keep trying in small, frequent, sessions. Always keeping in mind that you’re building trust through touch.
3. Cuddle just because
1. Hold a child while you read to them
2. Randomly hold hands
3. Hold your child’s face in your hands and tell them how much you love them.
1. Place your hand on their shoulder as they tell you about an event that’s happened. Don’t forget to make eye contact, with a smile!
2. Reach over and hold their hand when you’re driving, sitting, or watching a movie together.
3. Hug them before bed
1. Sit next to each other
2. Hold hands as you take a walk
3. Put your arm around them and tell them you’re proud of them.
1. Kiss your spouse in a variety of places on the body, not just the mouth
2. Randomly touch your spouse, make eye contact, and offer words of affirmation
3. Touch, Feel and enjoy your spouse’s body for the sole purpose of being close together without the need for intimacy. (Of course, that is acceptable just not the purpose of what we’re talking about today).
4. Dance together
5. Make time for skin to skin contact
This week, our challenge is to offer loving and gentle touch to those that we cherish.
Don’t become impatient; healthy relationships aren’t built overnight. However, they are built by consistency. Let’s commit to the time and effort this rewarding task requires!
I am confident that if we do, we will build relationships more beautiful and lasting than any of the worlds seven wonders!
With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
As a mother of 11 children, you can imagine that I’ve heard just about every excuse for not eating new or healthy food! I’ve had many moms come to me in exasperation saying, I need help for my picky eaters.
As with all parenting, we must remember that we can’t dismiss the relationship aspect in this challenge. We must approach this issue in an attitude of love and support. Here are a few other tips that can be helpful.
Help for Picky Eaters
1. When serving the meal consider the size of your plates and the portions you’re serving. Did you use age-appropriate portions or did you use adult portions? In our culture today, many of us have lost the perspective of what a serving or portion is. It’s not uncommon for our portions to actually be two and three times more than they should. We can teach good eating habits when we become aware of the servings on our own plates and start dishing up the proper portions.
2. When offering a new food to the family, consider the natural tendency to reject anything new. To prevent this obstinacy, talk about trying this food out at least two weeks in advance. Have the child help you find recipes for the new ingredient (use the internet for photos that make the dish look inviting). Have the child help in the kitchen as you cook. Finally, don’t neglect these moments to share memories of your personal experience trying new foods.
3. Don’t insist that they “eat it all” all of the time. I’ve found there are times that I require my children to “eat all” of something, however, most of the time I give my children choices. This is what you might hear at my table:
Child: “Mommy, do I have to eat my tomatoes?”
Mommy: “No, you don’t. However, if you don’t eat your tomatoes, you don’t eat again until dinner time. No snacks or treats.”
OR I might say,
“No, you don’t. How many do you think you could eat cheerfully? Let’s try to eat that many.”
OR I have often been heard saying,
“No, you don’t. However, if you don’t eat your tomatoes, you have to eat all your onions (or another food that has nutritional value).
Stop the Food Fight
Did you notice how I started each of my replies with, “No, you don’t”? Wording our replies wisely is vital. Make sure that your first response tells your child that you are there to help them make good choices. Quite often, when we speak carefully, we can avoid power struggles with our children.
Giving choices helps in those times when I say, “Yes. Today, Mommy wants you to eat all your tomatoes.” I’ve found that giving choices and making sure I keep a good healthy dose of flexibility, has proven very successful to overcome the “food fight” with my picky eaters. Of course, if I have a child being defiant, I will require they practice obedience. I do my best to make sure we avoid these challenges at the table. I’m confident that the table should be a place of trust, offering good growing experiences with fun conversation and happy memories.
I will choose to work on my child’s obedience in other areas so that food doesn’t become a fight.
Have these ideas been a helpful springboard? Do you have more ideas to offer? I am sure our readers would love to hear what works in your home as well!
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
Living an intentional life requires us to maximize ordinary moments. Maybe you’re like me, and your mind instantly starts to race with all the details of work required when we’re optimizing anything in life. If that’s the case, take heart! Today’s post isn’t about creating more work; instead, it’s about recognizing opportunities around us, taking nothing for granted, and living with purpose and focus. Today, I’m talking about intentional living.
I’m talking about making deliberate decisions to live in the present moment nstead of steamrolling past them. It’s the type of living that requires us to ponder the goodness tucked into each task. It’s mastering the art of living with a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude for the butterfly that flutters around the grandbabies as they play. Appreciation for the breeze that blows or the shade a large maple tree provides in the heat of summer days. It’s experiencing ordinary moments that would go unnoticed if we didn’t pause and capture the beauty and value they contribute to our lives.
Don’t be like some who confuse ordinary with mediocre. Ordinary moments are a canvas of opportunity revealed to each of us at a specific moment in time. So how do we maximize them to create the life story we want to live out?
Three tips for an intentional life.
Say no more; say yes less.
Warren Buffet said, “The differences between successful people and very successful people, is that the very successful people say no to almost everything.”
I think we could benefit from applying this strategy to our daily lives as women, wives, and mothers. If you’re like me, you might question every “no” that you muster up the courage to speak. You second guess yourself and wonder if you’re being selfish or question your priorities.
Let me stop you right there and share how I overcame that battle in my mind.
When I need to say no, I tell myself, “Every no you give, gives you 100 ways to say yes.” Yes, I can keep the family schedule on track, yes, I can get to bed on time, yes, I can keep up with the laundry, yes, yes, yes!
As a young mom who struggled to say no, I remember driving to deliver a meal to someone in the church who was sick; I was completely frazzled. My home was a wreck, and my children were cranky. I prayed, “Lord, I’m trying to be a blessing; please help me in this.” As I continued to pray and finally made my way home, I began to realize that just because Jeanette has a good idea, it doesn’t mean that God’s blessed the plan. I have to say no more and yes less.
Cultivate a positive mindset.
Many of us are familiar with the famous quote from Iron Lady, “What we think we become” In fact, the entire phrase went like this,“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” There is nothing new under the sun is there? The Scriptures tell us to think on what is pure, lovely, and a good report.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
We can purpose to think about these things that are pure, but what do we do when those negative or cynical thoughts invade our mind without an invitation? Friends, God’s been good to give us instruction in this area too. It’s in these times that we must take our thoughts captive. 2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Scriptures go on to tell us that our words have the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
If we want to begin living more grateful filled lives, then we need to start with our thoughts!
I share this point last just in case some of you overachievers take action promptly and unplug immediately. I want to make sure you read the rest of the post. HA! Just teasing you all, but seriously we won’t ever be able to fully live in the moment if we are even unconsciously aware that people may be contacting us be it by phone, social media, or email. I remember the awkward feeling when we lived off the grid, and I knew no would be stopping by unannounced, calling, or needing me to reply to an email. It was surprising how much more I accomplished with ease. I deliberately schedule the time to unplug to this day, and you know what? I never regret it, in fact, I find that I crave more of it.
Friends, it’s time for us to stop talking about living an intentional life. It’s time for us to stop talking about being fully present and living more grateful. It’s time for us to do it! How will you start maximizing on the ordinary moments of your life? I think I’ll start by sharing a bowl of ice cream and giggles with one of my children.
We could add more tips to this list, couldn’t we? Post your suggestion in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
“Should I give my child an allowance?” asked the woman behind the counter. Her question caught me off guard; it’s not a typical question for strangers to discuss. An allowance is a regular parenting topic that we all address at one time or another. Many of us have pondered what role if any should allowance play in teaching our children financial responsibility. (more…)