What’s (not) going on behind closed doors?

Kirjoittaja on New Yorkissa varttunut ja Helsingissä naisistunut copywriter.

Dear Mom,

The other day I hugged my husband. His response? “Move, you’re blocking the TV.”

It’s not exactly breaking news that most Finns aren’t touchy-feely people. But today I came across an amazing article that literally drives that point home. The article is entitled “Touch is as important to children as sleep,” and what’s amazing about it is the fact that SOMEONE ACTUALLY FELT THE NEED TO WRITE AN ARTICLE TELLING PARENTS WHY THEY SHOULD TOUCH THEIR KIDS!!!

With a 2-year-old and an almost 4-year-old at home, I’m not sure how people manage not to touch their kids. But hey, this is Finland and I know plenty of adult kids who greet their own parents with a firm handshake and a nod.

As child psychiatrist Jukka Mäkelä writes, Finnish kids are taught from a young age to be as independent and self-reliant as possible. As a result, he says: “Our healthcare system needs to teach parents that touch is as important to children’s development as sleep, nutrition or exercise.”

Wow, that’s crazy and depressing. But let’s read on.

Mäkelä encourages parents of older kids to ask them how they’re doing, even when they’re glued to their laptops. “Try putting your hands on their shoulders and giving them a light massage while you do,” he says.

Yeah, that sounds like a really cool way to break the ice with your tween….

Mäkelä does have a doctorate degree and a Marimekko Jokapoika shirt, so I have to assume he knows what he’s talking about. And, more importantly, that it needs saying.

But here’s an idea! Instead of talking to parents about the importance of touch, maybe we could hire some of the Latinas, Latinos, southern Europeans, Americans, Middle Easterners living here to teach it in action. I’d LOVE to see that!

Until then, I’m going to keep on hugging. There’s nothing good on TV on Wednesdays, so this could be my night!

Hugs, Lissu