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As a mother of two, I will not turn down a chance to give hugs and snuggles. Even as I get to know others better, I tend to greet them with a hug.
This is a learned practice from my affectionate dad:
- A hug can sometimes make a whole day better.
- Many childhood Saturdays were spent snuggling with my dad on the couch watching golf.
- He always greeted us with hugs at the end of the day.
My father was always more affectionate than my mother growing up. He offered more hugs, more laughs, and showed us that having feelings was okay. My dad was not afraid to cry during a movie, pick up “girl items” for me at the store, or hang out with my friends and me. He made us all laugh.
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Sadly, my father passed in 2020, but his memory lives on. I share stories with my children about him. I try to lead by example by being affectionate and helping them understand their feelings.
A few lessons I learned from having an affectionate dad were:
- Always be okay with laughing at yourself. When you do something silly, or fall down, don’t be afraid to laugh. My dad was always telling jokes, and if someone made fun of him, he would say, “Yup, I did do that!” And then he would laugh, too. He was able to shrug it off.
- Asking for help does not make you weak. My dad taught me it is okay to ask for help. He made sure we knew he was always there to help us, even if we were in trouble. He still wanted us to call him.
- Having feelings is okay. My dad was not afraid to cry every year when we watched It’s a Wonderful Life. He always told me it’s okay to cry over something sad. Happy, joyful tears were okay, too! Life is too short not to show how you feel. And a good cry is just what the soul needs sometimes.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. My dad got into fights a lot as a kid. But he taught us there are other ways to stand up for yourself and show who you are without having to use your fists. Showing emotions is good, but do it constructively.
- Treat others with kindness. My dad was one of those who gave assistance and helped others as much as he could — even to the people who weren’t always nice in return. One time I was with my father when we got sideswiped in his car. The guy was very rude and tried to blame it on us, but my dad just said, “Hey man, it’s okay. Why don’t I buy you lunch?” The guy just got in his car and drove off. But these interactions with my father were always teaching me. He would buy food for the person down on their luck sitting outside of Taco Bell. He believed in paying it forward. It always touched my heart when my dad would go out of his way for someone else. It instilled kindness in me, too.
I know not everyone is as affectionate as I am, and I understand that. These days I ask permission before give someone a hug, especially with someone new.
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But sometimes you can just tell when someone might need one. Looking back, I think the biggest things I learned from my affectionate dad are that kindness can be easily given and that laughter and hugs are truly the best medicine.
Suzy, I love this article so much. You were so blessed to have a dad who knew how to be affectionate. I feel so blessed that my husband is a lot like you described your dad.
Thank you for sharing his legacy with us.