Unequivocally Ambiguous

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I Am a Clingy Father in Need of Constant Hugging

by | Mar 26, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

Parenting Advice From Pick-Up Artists — Part 1

July 4, 2021. Petaluma, CA. Photo by author. 

I’m a clingy father.

I feel it every day.

When I see my daughters, my heart quickly fills with love. I want to immediately tell them I love them. I want to pick them up and give them big bear hugs. I want to give them a kiss attack, which is what I call consecutively kissing their cheeks.

Latinos are very affectionate, but the affection is not limited to words of affirmation. We are what is scientifically known as touchy-feely. I kissed my dad on the cheek every time I saw him. My mom would have a hug mandate, and there was a minimum amount of hug we needed to fill out if we wanted to eat.

I want to show that same kind of affection to my daughters, and at times I feel proud I have.

One evening, when our neighbors visited with their kids, I saw my oldest daughter openly hugging and kissing them. When they played with her toys, she stood close to them and put her arm right over their shoulder. I saw these kids immediately look at their moms to understand what was going on. They didn’t know what to do with the affection my daughter was showing them.

But it warmed my heart.

My kissing and hugging can be too much for them, and even as toddlers, they have come to a place where they are establishing their boundaries. The parenting philosophy my wife and I follow encourages parents to respect that boundary. It is conflicting for me because it stands against everything I’ve learned by osmosis as a Latino.

A part of me is tempted to use all the tactics my mom used growing up to ensure she got what she needed from us. I’m confused by all these newfangled terms in the news, like gaslighting, Munchausen by proxy, catfishing, hoodwinking, emotional manipulation, and racketeering. That’s what we would call ‘parenting’ in Colombia.

Between the emotional warfare tactics and un buen chancletazo (one single smack with a traditional sandal), Latina moms were sure to raise well-behaved citizens — fearful, anxious, troubled, sure, but well-behaved.

But that’s not the parenting strategy I use now. I follow the RIE method, gentle parenting, and Montessori, which are philosophies that honor the senior citizen wisdom your kids are born with even though they’ve only been on earth for less years than the fingers on one of your hands.

It’s hard to fight my initial impulses, like when I want to permanently hug them. I shared with my wife how hard it was to accept not being hugged by them all the time, and she told me, “Maybe if you didn’t ask for attention so much, you would get more of it.”


That hurt.

My wife was just trying to help, but it hurt because it reminded me of a time when I was still in the dating pool. I thought I was done with the games once I married her.

I dated in a time that is hard to imagine now. There were dating websites, but it was nothing like it is today.

Today, dating is like placing an order with Domino’s Pizza campaign. If you text Domino’s an emoji of a pizza slice, it immediately places an order that will be delivered in under thirty minutes or is free. Dating these days can look like ordering from Domino’s: millennial texts an emoji of eggplant and what I think are tears, and, just like a, the booty call has been arranged in one or two characters.

Say what you must, but you can never blame these kids for inefficiencies when it comes to sex.

We also didn’t swipe anywhere unless we were talking about swiping our credit cards to pay for dinner, movies, or coffee. Other than that, we would have to find out face-to-face those introductory details displayed today on profiles with highly edited pictures.

But, when I was dating, something else was trendy: advice from Pick-Up Artists.

That’s right! I dated in a time when men’s idea of romancing women was dressing up in clown costumes and giving women backhanded compliments to get into their pants and never calling them again. I mean, just a nice bunch of well-adjusted individuals.

My wife’s comment reminded me of them, making me wonder how Pick-Up Artists would approach parenting.

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