The early pages of The Snuggle Party Guidebook discuss the epidemic of touch deprivation, and its profound impacts upon well being, personal development, and the health of our culture as a whole. While the book focuses upon the often-ignored topic of touch among adults, the nurturing we receive as children clearly plays a role as well.
Among those in most need of increased nurturing touch may be very young children in the foster care system. Having co-fostered a girl from three months until just over two years of age, I say this for a few reasons:
- When children are separated from their biological parents at a very young age, they’re deprived of regular physical bonding with their biological mother–this is a very strong bond that’s being broken. This includes breast feeding, which has a range of benefits.
- Many young foster children go through a few homes before they end up in a longer-term or permanent placement, and often get bounced back and forth between birth parent(s), other relatives, and foster family/ies before being placed more permanently. This creates additional stress, as they must shift both emotional and physical bonds.
- Many of the caring and courageous adults who serve as foster parents have limited income and other resources. Any stipend received, if any, is quickly spent on items like diapers and formula. On top of this, foster care systems are often not a funding priority. Simply making sure that a child’s basic food and safety needs are met is a feat.
My former partner frequently carried our foster daughter around in a carrier, giving her a significant amount of physical contact during her first two years. Five days a week, she would put Hannah (a pseudonym) in the frontal carrier facing her, walk one to five blocks to the bus stop, and spend about half an hour on the bus to daycare and work. In the evening, she’d repeat the process. This provided at least an hour and a half of physically connective time each day.
Because the carrier was being used so much, comfort was key. At one point in time we probably had seven or eight different models being “test driven,” some new, some used, and some borrowed from friends.
My former partner later adopted Hannah, who seems to be joyful and vibrant at four years of age, despite some of the challenges she initially faced. I believe that the amount of physical closeness Hannah experienced has been very important.
I hope that all kids can grow up in an even healthier world, where both children and adults have an abundance of affection. Regardless of what type of playing field they may find themselves upon at the time of birth.
For these reasons, I’m donating 20% of net profits from Amazon sales of The Snuggle Party Guidebook through October 2015 (the month of Hannah’s fifth birthday) to a specific cause: purchasing baby carriers for foster children.
Obviously not all parents have the time or energy to carry a small child around for 90 minutes a day–to this day I remain very impressed by that loving commitment–but every little bit helps.
The Big Goal, and How You Can Help
I’d love to be able to help at least 100 kids. Estimating an average cost of $30 to $50 for carriers of reasonable quality, that means we’d need to sell at least 3,500 to 5,000 books over the next year at their current prices.
More, of course, would be even more amazing! If this went viral and we could help 1,000 families, how cool would that be?
As I’m not yet independently wealthy and rely partially upon book sales for a living, I’ll be up front: On my end, the remaining revenue would help me to devote more time to meaningful projects.
Because the book covers a little-understood topic, it’s sold only a handful of copies so far. This is despite many great comments from experts and other readers. So your help in spreading the word is greatly appreciated, and tremendously needed. Please share this post across your social networks, and encourage friends and family to check it out.
The book itself addresses some of the challenging issues our culture faces around physical affection as a whole. This includes some sensitive topics that may feel like a stretch, such as sexuality, homophobia, and the like. Only by courageously and openly talking about these topics can we can create a warmer, friendlier, and more connected world.
Many kids out there aren’t as fortunate as Hannah has been. I believe that much of the neglect and abuse they suffer may be symptoms of cultural distortions around love and affection.
Additional information on The Snuggle Party Guidebook, including a range of free and downloadable resources, is at snuggleparty.org.
Notes: I’m initially planning to include only Amazon proceeds because I anticipate them accounting for the vast majority of sales. However, if sales through other channels make up more than roughly 20% of profit, I’ll also include them. Specific carrier model(s) and recipient organization(s) will be determined later; purchase decisions may be left up to the organization.