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Kiss me at the door when our work day is done.

Hold my hand in the kitchen as we miracle a meal into existence.

Smile across the table when our home is so loud with the sounds of children we cannot focus.

Touch.

It has long been the way humans reciprocate affection. Culturally, as we become more normalized to the sexualization of industry and comfortable with passion privately, are we losing our affinity for basic affection?

Here are three reasons why you should unabashedly use public displays of affection to benefit your family. Make PDA NBD in your home.

1. Affectionate Touch Calms
Has your spouse ever tried to initiate sex because he thought it would help you relax? Mine too, but that’s not the kind of touch we’re talking about here. We’re talking PG, in front of the kids, appropriately tender, perhaps even considered boring, non-boudoir touch.

Affectionate touch reduces cortisol levels in the brain and activates a burst of oxytocin, otherwise dubbed the “love hormone,” resulting in reduced stress. Recent neurological research also suggests warm touch activates the vagus nerve in the brain that holds the power to soothe conditioned fear associations.

This lowered stress level and reduction to fear in parents, in turn, affects children who subconsciously assess the emotional safety of their environment. Seeing parents secure allows children to feel secure.

The Gottman Institute shares the “Magic Ratio” of 5:1 for healthy marriages to stay connected even in the midst of conflict. This is five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. Body language, facial expressions, and affectionate touch are key elements of these positive bridges during hard marriage moments. During times of peace, affectionate touch allows us to bond closer.

Medical science and social science confirm what we knew all along: touch is good for our bodies and our minds.

2. Affectionate Touch Allows Presence In The Present
Family life is a hurried life. It’s easy to get swept away in the rush of schedules and swapping of gear and quick milk runs. Finding moments to share physical contact is a porthole back to the present.

Simple moments of touch between spouses are invitations to remember the gift of a shared life. A kiss. A hug. A squeeze on the shoulder forces us to slow down, even for a few seconds. They allow us to notice and be noticed. These PDA moments both ground us and fuel us.

This is the meaning in the mess of life. Of course we want our kids to become used to this integral aspect of family life. Most likely, the purity of this small act will be so inviting a child will jump right in between the hug to become fully immersed in the moment as well.

3. Affectionate Touch Creates Kind Kids
Let’s face it, we want to raise kind kids in a hurting world. Affectionate touch between spouses is an act of kindness. Kindness, like any other moral characteristic, is caught more than taught. Our kids weigh our actions as emphatically more important than our words. The more children witness and experience kindness, the more they will be kind. We tone and expand our ability to give and receive kindness and compassion by building upon accumulated small moments.

Normalize these microactions of togetherness and tenderness. The benefits run even deeper than we yet know and the ripple effects spread wider than we can dream. Our marriages, our children, and thereby our world, will only be the better for it. 

Public displays of affection in front of our kids become no big deal when, really, we know it’s one of the biggest deals of all.

Make PDA NBD FTW! 

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Jenny Leboffe

Jenny lives in San Diego with her husband and five kids. She writes about everyday family life, foster care, adoption, and the spiritual expansion of motherhood at jennyleboffe.com. Join her story on Facebook or Instagram

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