I vividly recall my father’s long fingers and open hands as he spoke and welcomed others into his presence. I wisely knew not to interrupt him when I saw his face buried in his hands as he was deep in thought. I appreciated his big hands when he carried me to the emergency room a few times for accidents I had while playing imaginatively. And I tried to follow his teaching on how to appropriately grasp a baseball for a fast ball or a curve ball. Four years since his passing and what I mostly cherish were his embracing hands that would drain out my worries of the world.
There are many unique features about hands. You probably know that fingers carry unique fingerprints. Did you know that the hands carry more sensory receptors than any other part of the body? So, in a way, we carry our feelings in our hands. We also can pick up on how people feel just by observing their hands. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the privilege of being raised by a father who emoted love through his hands. He was welcoming, kind, loving, and also protective – never overstepping his boundaries. Instead of being a father who is remembered by angry hands that hurt and can’t be trusted, be a father who through his hands welcomes, guides, and loves.
- Welcoming hands: Assume an attitude and a posture that invites your children to come to you with questions about the world, about the relationships in their life, and about life in general. When they approach you, go down to their eye level; hold their hands; look into their eyes. Take them in and be as present as possible. By giving them the gift of your presence, you are telling them that they are welcomed, that they are valued, and that they matter. This will forge in their lives a strong sense of identity that will help them be confident adults.
- Guiding hands: Take the time to teach your children. Invite them to join you while you work on the car, while you fix a door handle, or while replacing a light bulb. Not only are you giving him/her the opportunity to learn practical day-to-day skills needed in the real world, but, in so doing, you will connect and bond. As you work on projects together, teach your kids about your values, hopes, and wishes.
- Loving hands: Embrace your children. Carry them; tickle them; play with their toys; smooth over their hair. Create memories that remind them that you love them. Ensure the memories you create are not filled with closed fits or painful stings. Ensure that your hands are not ones to be avoided but ones to be cherished. Teach them through your example what is appropriate and not appropriate and how to establish appropriate boundaries.
Family Bridges’ vision is strong families for purpose driven children. For more resources on parenting and fatherhood, be sure to download our Podcast, The Struggle Is Real. This panel-style podcast is led by three hosts and a special weekly guest where the discussion is based on professionally executed skits that show parenting techniques that work.
Dr. Alicia E. La Hoz, CEO, Family Bridges, Chicago, IL