What memories do you have of your father’s touch? Or did he ever even touch you? Perhaps you knew his touch through physical discipline. Or, maybe he used his hands to demonstrate his love. Did he guide you with his touch?
A father’s touch is very powerful. It’s an extremely emotional package no matter how he is delivering it. It is different from the touch of a mother because the father is viewed differently by the children in the family hierarchy. Often, a father’s touch is far rarer than a mother’s. Part of the reason is a father may be gone to another area to work and the child may find themselves in the company of their mother by default.
Many fathers don’t demonstrate their affection in the same way mothers do. It’s hard to define why this might be. The different emotions that drive touch can be rather elusive and resist being identified. You might just use a broad brush stroke and say that, often, children receive less physical affection from their fathers than their mothers. Right or wrong, rarity is usually given a higher value than commonality.
In my photograph, a young father baths his children along the headwaters of the Yanuncay River in rural Ecuador. As his daughter looks on he splashes water, rinsing the soap from his sons freshly washed skin. The white bar is visible behind her right knee. He is a man who loves his children and it is so easily seen in the tenderness of his interaction with them.
The daughter, awaiting her turn, seems mesmerized by the physical actions of her father washing her older brother. Everyone in the scene is at ease with each other and their situation, even though big brothers eyes are scrunched up from the rinsing. The results of physical kindness, affection, toward one another seems strongly evident.
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Even though Zeak has been gone for forty years, I still recall what it was like when he touched me, and didn’t. Like most dads, he gave me big hugs, kisses too, sometimes. He also spanked me as a way of correcting behaviors he didn’t like. Or, maybe, it was behaviors my mother didn’t like. He guided me with his touch and in many ways. When I call him to my mind, and I do, I sometimes review our relationship in segments of time when I was a very young child. As his son, I recall clearly what he did and didn’t do with his affection.
I know my daughter has clear recollection of my touch, as she grew up, because she tells me about it.
Fathers, know the powers that you have within your touch as you apply the same to your children. They will never forget what you have freely given them or what you have kept back for yourself. When they are needy, and at your well of emotions, hug them up close to you. Invite them to drop their bucket deep and linger long as they slake their thirst from the affection you offer them.