Social Question

mazingerz88's avatar

What are the potential psychological effects of not being hugged by one’s parents since childhood ?

Asked by mazingerz88 (26250points) 1 month ago from iPhone

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14 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Lack of touch in infants can cause autism like symptoms. Rocking, withdrawn, blank staring faces, less likely to speak, sleep disruptions. All sorts of side effects. There are some well documented observations. Many years ago there was a famous report of children in orphanages in Romania who were not tended to well, and were not held or played with enough.

Even later in childhood it has some profound effects. It’s basically neglect.

Smashley's avatar

They can be rough. Attachment disorders are a real risk, and though potentially treatable, will likely reverberate through a person’s life. I think it profoundly messes with our brain chemistry, our relationships with other people and our own identities.

canidmajor's avatar

A bit confused, here. By “since childhood”, @mazingerz88, do you mean they were hugged during childhood and not after, or not at all since birth?

jca2's avatar

I think it has to be taken in context. Some parents are not necessarily physically demonstrative but can be nurturing in other ways – i.e. teaching the child things, telling the child stories, reading books with the child, etc. Not hugging a child is not in and of itself necessarily equivalent to being cold and distant and negligent.

mazingerz88's avatar

@canidmajor Possibly hugged during childhood but said person now an adult not having a single memory of any of that possible hugging.

janbb's avatar

Thanks for clarifying @mazingerz88 . I had the same confusion as @canidmajor about what you meant by “since.”

I agree with @jca2 that I wouldn’t consider not having a memory of hugging per se as indicative of coldness or unloving parenting. I don’t remember my parents hugging me although I have a general sense of my mother being very affectionate. My father didn’t hug me in my recollection but it is very clear to me that he was an involved, loving parent. They each had their batshit crazy aspects but I don’t feel the presence or absence of hugs had much to do with their love.

I want to add that if an adult has a perception that they were not given enough love or enough of what they needed to thrive as an adult, than a memory of minimal physical affection could be a part of that.

JLeslie's avatar

Not having a memory of being hugged—what do the siblings and the parents say? Is that their memory too? The family just wasn’t the hugging, snuggle, make a nest in front of the TV type? I think as kids move into their preteen and teens there is naturally much less of that.

I would warn that memory is very tricky. Adult children who I know who were abused often have very little memory of childhood, and close to zero memory of happy times, even though a majority of their childhood might have been happy.

I’m a big believer in confirmation bias, and children in bad situations, especially as they get into teens and 20’s, they focus on the negative to propel themselves forward into independence. People do this when they get divorced, suddenly everything bad that the spouse does gets more magnified, more impossible to ignore, hard to remember or recognize anything good. People do it when they need to move to a new city, change jobs, the brain can have very selective memory, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

That’s not to say that’s happening to you, there is no way for me to know. I certainly am not saying any abuse or neglect should be ignored just because there were good times also, I would never say that. All I’m saying is memory is fallible, but yours might be very accurate.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I have not had a hug since Covid started. I’m ok.

rebbel's avatar

One can hug one selves, @RedDeerGuy1, if need be.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@rebbel I have had virtual hugs. I also hug my pillows.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are lots of people throughout my life who hug. Also, my parents were good about that as well, but still missed after 30 years.

Jeruba's avatar

Older adults whose parents were reared in the first half of the 20th century may have been brought up on the advice that prevailed before Dr. Benjamin Spock. Here is what preceded Dr. Spock’s revolutionary approach:

Child-rearing experts in the early 1900s promoted conformity and detachment in raising children. In 1928, John B. Watson, one of the founders of behaviorist psychology, argued that children should be treated as adults. Mothers should habituate their children to strict schedules, let them cry themselves to sleep and avoid too much love and attention. In his 1930 book, “Behaviorism,” he wrote:

“Never, never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning.”

Dr. Spock’s book, “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Childcare,” came out in 1946, at the start of the postwar baby boom (1946–1964), and changed Americans’ view of parenting. But some parents stood by the old approach, displaying little affection and treating “coddling” almost as if it were a crime. Maybe it was their way of justifying what their own parents had done, as if taking a different approach might have forced them to acknowledge how they had been undernurtured in their own upbringing.

My parents had Dr. Spock’s book on a bookshelf in the living room, but my mother confessed to me when I was in my twenties that her mother and grandmothers had cautioned her against too much cuddling of her children, of whom I was the eldest. As a result, she had been very conflicted about the right way to behave with us. It took a while, I think, for social attitudes to change. Some of us may still feel lingering effects of those old models.

kritiper's avatar

I was one of eight kids, and I don’t remember EVER getting a hug. Dad always told us stuff like “Boys don’t do that” and Mom was too busy keeping house.

JLeslie's avatar

If you had lots of siblings you probably received touch requirements from playing with sibs. Many boys rough and tumble, girls do each other hair, hold hands. Years ago it wasn’t uncommon for children to sleep together in a bed.

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