What Happens to a Child Never Hugged

I was in the third grade and it was show and tell. Everyone else had something to show and I just had something to tell. I don’t know what possessed me but I remember standing before the class and sharing my telling. With no dramatics I plainly stated what I wanted to share.
“I hate my mother”
That was all I had to say and walked backed to my desk in silence. There was no questions asked why I felt that way or what made me say it, not from the teacher or the other students.
The one person who did want to know why I said it was my mother. This was before the new technologies such as Facebook and Twitter, but by time I got home she already knew what I said and she stood in the living room waiting for me.
She glared at me.
“So you hate me huh?” I’ll give you something to hate me for”
The race was on as she pulled out her freshly cut switch and like a cheetah I turned and ran out the door with her behind me getting in as many hits as she could.
I was regulated to my room for the rest of the month but when you’re young it feels longer.
My mother never hugged me.
That wasn’t the reason for my statement but I think my young self knew that I was missing out on an important connection between mother and child. Growing up we were scared of her. We would hear her pull in from work and no matter what we were doing, whether it was watching television, making Ramen Noodles or talking on the phone, we would stop what we were doing and run. Then we would wait in our room waiting to hear how her mood was. Did she have a good day or bad? Because if was bad we knew the day was going to be bad for us.
We never used to run from her but I remember how one day she came home from work and me and my three siblings ran out to greet her.
Her response, “Why are you motherfuckers embarrassing me?
It was the last day we ran to her.
These memories came back when I had a recent dinner with my cousin. His mother being my mother’s sister had so much in common that I never realized it.All this time I thought I was alone in my experience but he shared the same story of him never hearing his mother saying she loved him.But she bought them stuff.
Stuff!
It made me realize that that’s how my mother and her siblings were raised.
The way my mother showed love was through material items. By providing a roof over our heads, buying groceries, putting gifts under the tree, to her that was love.
During my time as a youth worker I worked with so many families that did the same thing. That considered buying their child a XBox 360 showed their sense of love.
I think I would have rather went on an empty stomach just to experience a hug of love.
What happens to a child never hugged?
They learn to not hug back and they reach in their wallet to show their love. They feel a emptiness, a non-completed bond. They don’t know how to accept hugs because it’s so unusual and makes one feel there’s a hidden agenda.
Now that I’m older I do realize she gave what she got. What I had to learn was how to break that cycle.
I wished during that time of show and tell instead of telling everyone I hate my mother, that I could say “I don’t care what my mother buys for me, I just want her hug.”
What happens to a child never hugged?
It depends, some learn how to learn about love themselves, some forget how to fly and some use bitterness as the dirt that fills their empty garden.
No material object can replace the touch of a parent.

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About Aundaray

Aundaray is currently receiving his Masters in Public Relation and Communications at New York University. He has blogged for Huffington Post and various magazines. His interest is in discovering the effects of social media within business and cultures and the impact it has.
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13 Responses to What Happens to a Child Never Hugged

  1. Anonymous says:

    i reda this and yes what u said all seems true

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was well fed and clothed but not hugged. I rocked my head in bed for years and was criticised for it! Relationship with my mother only worked on her terms. She'd provided materially so she'd been a good mother. She still re,embers my faults very well. I believe she has Asperger's Syndrome. She says she has no issues with my upbringing. I am middle child, second and last daughter!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My parents hugged me when I was 28 years old. Up to that time, I never thought much about it. I always had problems showing any affection for as long as I could remember and I just thought that was how I was. I never liked my mom. She was a mean person for nearly all of my upbringing. My dad was a nice enough person and provided well for us, but I never connected with him. The closest he ever came to teaching me anything about life was when my mom caught me watching a rated R movie on HBO that had naked females and he told her, “I'd rather have him learning that from TV than at school”. I remember the words exactly and always thought that was the stupidest thing I ever heard and it has remained the only thing my dad ever tried to teach me.

    I guess they read a book or something when I was @28. Suddenly they start telling me they love me and kept hugging me. It was very strange and I didn't like it. They didn't discuss why they were doing it or say anything about my upbringing. I was ready to go all the way through life pretending nothing was wrong. Never blame them for anything. I had lots of nice things growing up and it wasn't like I was abused and beaten, so why would I complain?

    After a while I grew to resent them hugging me and telling me I was loved. The time to do it was when I was a child, here I was a grown man and I felt they have now taken something away from me, my one shield I had to accept me for what I was. They never apologized or talked about not hugging me or showing much affection for nearly 30 years of my life, they just pretended like they always hugged me and were emotionally there for me. I didn't know how to feel about that for years. Untill they kept pestering me about getting married and providing them with grandchildren.

    Here I was, barely able to get along with people in general and all they wanted to know is when I was gonna get married and give them a grandkid. I felt like I was pushed out the door and had it slammed behind me. They had raised me for all my life with zero show of affection and then at the age of 28, without any explination, start doing what they should have been doing from the beginning. I look at it as them not accepting any of the blame for how I was. It made me very angry. I was ready to go through all of my life without complaint and just try to live it, stay in contact with my parents and pretend everything was OK for their benefit, but now I couldn't. I never talked to them again.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A loyal fan is born. well which is what i feel after reading your post.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love this I am glad u broke that cycle… I am hugged so I feel bad for u, have u tlked 2 ur mom bout it hope u hve now uhve rights… u should speak 2 her

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you everyone for ur input on this. My boyfriend was never hugged or told, “I love you.” His mom was not nurturing as well.
    He is not a “hugger.” I blamed myself til I got more background which explained a lot. This experience of withholding affection from children is a lifetime of hurt and confusion. Thanks again for shining a light on this.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was never hugged and felt distant from my parents, but the longer I went without any physical contact the more I craved it. When I was 11 I met my first girl friend who hugged and kissed me. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Ever since then I've been totally addicted to hugging, cuddling and kissing – love sex of course but it's more a means to an end. I'm 40 now and when my marriage ended last year I was devistated – no hugs 😦 so started hiring escorts just for hugs and kisses, was wonderful but empty once they had to leave. I find now that I have trouble focusing on anything at work for long periods because I just want to be hugged. When the receptionist walks past I dream of her sitting on my knee for just a few seconds so I could have a hug and kiss her. I'd give anything to be in a relationship again.

  8. Anonymous says:

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi I am helen and I am 25 years old. I am of somali decent (east african) and where we come from the norm was just that– affection? What does that even mean? I don't know why, but its so normal to somali people to not hug you or say I love you. My dad was a little more affection than my mom, my mom would squirm at the idea of a hug. One day my little sister and I wanted to see what she would do. I told her let's go hug mom we both jumped on her hugging her one in the back one in the front and she says in our native language” omg, can't you guys see I am busy cooking what do you want what do you need let me go”. I realized that our parents only show affection when you are pretty much like a baby, after about I'd say 8 years old, you can forget the hugs, kisses, I love you's because you won't ever hear them again so it feels like you never heard it because what are you gonna remember as a kid? As an adult (18- to now) when my dad and I are talking serious (bills, life, education) he tries to show affection as a closing to our convo and touches my head and hair and when he says ok I love you, I just find it so uncomfortable and I never knew why I always ran away at the idea of him being anywhere affectionate to me I still don't know why because I do want to hear and feel affection from him when he does I cringe. I am fucked up I know. I know my mom isn't gonna change at all. I met a guy who said he loved me, I didn't believe it of course but then I started to believe I could literally feel his love for me. I loved him so much for so long at first when he wanted to cuddle I was very self-conscience body wise he taught me that I was beautiful I started to believe it he showed me so much affection it made me cry. Now that we are not together I been lost in life ever since, because I feel like he was the only guy that loved me and I won't find another I was so bad at first to him resisting affection and more importantly not giving back any at all even tho I felt the same I could never utter the words I love you when I so desperately wanted him to know…. I'll never forget him or get over him . Its sad having someone that isn't your parents teach you how to love

  10. Anonymous says:

    My mom hugs me a lot even when I ask for a hug she hugs me. She is a nice mom. I agree with you that I rather have a hug than material possessions.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As an adoptive parent to two older girls and a toddler, I am forced to visit my childhood to understand my parenting of each child. The older ones are very emotionally needed and have an emotional age of 2. I got my older children when they were older (tweenagers). Meanwhile, my toddler that I had since birth is emotionally age appropriate! Since my childhood was void of emotional contact, I am having to retrain myself to emotionally avail myself to my children! I have no problem showing affection to my younger two but struggle with the oldest who is demanding the most emotional need. Helping heal their emotional pain is also helping to heal mine!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am so thankful that I found this blog. I have only faint memories of any expressions of warmth, affection and love. I was not touched, i.e. hugged, cuddled, patted, rocked, etc. Although I know that underneath it all I have sorely missed physical affection, I cringe when I am unexpectedly touched by other. I have also was not told that I was loved when I was a child. I remember that by age 7 or so, I essentially knew that I would not know love nor happiness and that I could not risk really caring about anyone or anything. I have always felt alone. Although I “know” that my parents and grandparents loved me, I just didn't feel it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    There is a book you can find on Amazon called “Love Like Falling” by Jason Duchscherer. It's about a girl whose mother didn't display any love or affection for her.

    It's a fascinating, dark, but beautiful read. Highly recommended.

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