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By Esih Efuru

Elise, a nine year old girl in my neighborhood, talks to her friends all of the time about her super hero mom. She’s not a super hero mom because she can make rain look like skittles falling from the sky or turn water into strawberry milk. She’s a super mom because she gives lots of hugs and kisses, and for Elise, that’s the best thing ever. She has grown accustomed to approaching her mom with outstretched arms throughout her day, which is her signal for another dose of warm and fuzzy love. Elise swears by it, and her friends are now eager to get it too. Do you remember what it was like to get a hug from your parents on your way out of the door to school? Did your face light up and make you warm all day?

Whether you realized it then or remember it now, those hugs most likely planted a seed that led you to become the person you are right now. The simple gesture of an embrace has a most profound impact on a child and how they translate the message of love from those they interact with. Starting your children’s day with a warm hug and kiss shows them that they are loved, that they are a priority, and sets the tone for a positive and love-filled day. In fact, a spontaneous squeeze and peck, with an affirmation added in for good measure, will mean the world to them. Landing them one in public is not a bad idea either. Hugs and kisses are the soil that cultivated a legacy of inner strength and pride, which will allow them to know that they are loved, resist the desire to search for it in others, and develop the courage to face their ever-changing world.

Esih Efuru, a 43 year old writer, artist and minister, is raising a daughter in Charlotte, NC. Email her