According to a recent survey, one in five British dads stops hugging their kids completely once they reach the age of ten. The research, which was commissioned by Fairy Non Bio, took in the responses of 2,000 men in the UK and aimed to investigate how many of them hug their children, when they are most likely to stop doing so and whether the dads of today are bigger huggers than their fathers were.
Two thirds of the respondents said that they hugged their children more than their fathers hugged them, so I find it surprising that there seems to be such an abrupt halt to this simple display of affection when their kids turn ten. Of those who said they no longer cuddled their children after this age, over half said that it was because they were too old while one in five felt it made their kids feel uncomfortable.
The research also found that there’s a significant shift in how we show affection to our children once they reach their teens. At this point, hugging drops to fifth place behind things like verbal affection and giving attention to their interests. This statistic isn’t so surprising as we all remember what it was like to be a teenager but, going back to the one in five statistic, there are a few things that don’t add up as far as I’m concerned.
Personally, I think some of those answering the survey weren’t being entirely honest with themselves – particularly those who stated that it was because they felt their ten-year-olds were made to feel uncomfortable. The amateur psychologist in me thinks that, in many cases, it’s probably the other way round and that they’re projecting their own awkwardness onto their children. We don’t suddenly stop needing hugs, after all.
Dr Simon Thompson, Psychologist and Neuroscientist, explains their importance: “Hugs impact on us in a variety of ways. At the physical level, they provide us with tactile comfort, softness, and closeness. At the hormonal level, the body’s natural chemicals are released for our emotional well-being and to protect us from harm; and the hug has become part of that in ensuring the necessary chemicals are released and regulated.
“We all need reassurance throughout different stages of our life and the hug has become more than a symbol of the reassurance and protection. It is needed by those who are vulnerable in that particular instant, but it has to be delivered by those trusted and respected in order to maximise the effect. If you have a strong relationship of trust and respect with them, then who better, than your father or mother?”
I agree with him. Dylan is halfway towards the headline statistic and I can’t imagine not hugging him after his tenth birthday. While I’d never consider myself a big hugger, I’ve got no problem with doing so and always give him a hug when I drop him off at school. Likewise with Xander at pre school.
I still hug my dad and my close friends too and don’t care if people think showing affection is a sign of weakness – because they’re wrong. Admittedly, five years is a long way away and the boys may not want to be hugged in front of their friends, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop completely.
Disclosure: this post was produced in collaboration with Fairy Non Bio