Love Languages for Adult Children: Physical Touch

This blog is one in a series of six addressing the topic of SPEAKING YOUR ADULT CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE.   We may have done this when they were young and now believe that speaking the love language of our adult child is not as important. But nothing is further from the truth.  The first blog in the series Speaking Your Child’s Language explains why. 
The test to determine what your child’s love language might be can be found at
He was always my hugger as a little boy.
We snuggled on the couch for hours. 
I miss having my kids sit in my lap and look into my eyes. Is that weird? 


Parents of adult children can have a tough time figuring out how to speak love into their adult kids.

You may be struggling with communicating love to your adult child— especially if your 20-something or 30-something adult child’s  love language is physical touch. Infancy and toddlerhood demand physical touch—all the bathing and kissing boo-boos filled our days when our kids were young. The necessity of physical touch in the early years diminishes as children walk, run, and then DRIVE without our assistance. But that does not stop the need for physical touch.
Despite the fact that our adult children have spouses and perhaps even children of their own—they still need our literal physical touch. If your adult child’s love language is one of the other four languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, or quality time, that human STILL needs physical touch. Physical touch is an activator for the other love languages.  Physical touch speaks to a person by saying, “Hey look! I see you there. I am present with you.” 
Obviously, there is no more lap-sitting and snuggling with your  grown-up child. But, if that kid has a love language of physical touch you are NOT out of options:
  • Pat her on the back
  • Welcome him with a hug
  • Make direct eye contact when she is speaking to you
  • Stand shoulder to shoulder when making a meal
  • Put your arm around him when taking a picture
  • Sandwich her hands in both of yours when you give her a compliment
  • Touch his arm as he is saying good-bye
  • Encourage touch football, wrestling, or sports with all the adult kids
  • Hold, hug, cuddle their little ones—when you have done it for their children you have done it for them (but you knew that!)




Even if you are living a distance from the child and  mainly communicate by phone, try Google Hangout or FaceTime or some other way to actually make CONTACT with them. A virtual hug outranks no hug for your physical touchers. This is a great idea for ALL your kids. 
We have tried LOTS of video chat ideas. Currently our guys are using Marco Polo because their crazy schedules (and different time zones) don’t always allow us to LIVE chat. While this is NOT optimal, it is better than giving up the eye contact and desire to be there.
WARNING: for our physical touchers any hurtful touch is ESPECIALLY damaging.  If your physical toucher has a tendency to get loud and pick a fight during a particularly difficult time in his/her life PHYSICALLY MOVE AWAY FROM HIM/HER. Avoid the situation where an adult child might become physical. Obviously, this is important for a child with ANY love language but a child with physical touch as a love language feels terrible condemnation and shame if he hits a person he loves. This is why a physical toucher is repulsed by the idea of spanking a child, or anything physically hurtful.
As a parent of adults whose love language is physical touch you may need to ask for forgiveness for a physical punishment performed in their childhood or adolescence. Some adults carry deep wounds from being physically reprimanded as older children or teens. These wounds present themselves in the form of aggression to parents from the adult children or long absences or excuses to not attend family events.
If your adult child exhibits signs of aggression or disconnect toward you, ASK the child. You may feel you are opening a can of worms concerning their growing up, but there is no other way to find out where the lack of love and closeness originate.


What happens when you find out you have injured this child? You know that answer also: lovingly apologize. You may not even remember the event, but the feeling of lovelessness is REAL to the child—and you love the child more than your own pride. I know you do.

Author: Dr. Johnnie K. Seago

Johnnie Seago is a national conference speaker who is passionate about building leadership in families. As the mother to eight adult children, she desires families to learn to connect and communicate to build a community of support. She extends her leadership and team building experience to schools, businesses, and civic groups. Johnnie’s messages equip leaders to: Find their strength in the design God used to create them Find their purpose for which God created them Partner with others for support in reaching goals Commit to the dreams God has placed on their heart Become accountable for their success as leaders Johnnie’s ministry to families includes: Helping families transition from childhood to adulthood Teaching parents to communicate with their adult children Working through difficult situations as teens become adults Providing resources and ideas for productive grand-parenting Johnnie and her husband, Ted has been married for 40 years. They live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas on a lake where they enjoy boating and water sports and the occasional day of floating and reading.

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