For those of us old enough to remember the news stories that came out of Romania in the late 80’s/ early 90’s, the plight of the Romanian orphans personifies institutionalised neglect and abuse. Under Nicolae Ceausescu, both abortion and contraception were forbidden which led to a rise in birth rates and, in turn, resulted in many children being abandoned.
I had a friend who gave up a year to go and work amongst these children, taking his skills there in order to make a difference. There were many stories I remember hearing about the plight of those forgotten children, but it’s the haunting conclusion of a social observation that made me determined to hug my kids as often as possible.
Sociologists found two identical orphanages -same size, same ratio of staff and children, same conditions. The only difference was that in one orphanage the babies died well before their first birthdays and yet in the other the majority survived.
After months of observation the sociologist found one other difference between the two institutions. Although the children in the first orphanage were fed and changed they were never picked up and hugged for long periods of time. Whereas their counter parts in the second orphanage would be picked up and held by staff as they went about their duties.
The sociologists concluded one thing – that the babies were dying for want of human contact and physical touch. And their reasoning why this was vital for survival? Human contact, the process of bonding with another made the babies feel loved.
Scepticism aside for a moment – how many of us have survived hard times because we have felt the love of those around us?
I find an excuse to – as our Yankee pals would say – “love on my kids