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Growth Spurts: Towel Hugs

I don’t remember how it started, but sometime after my firstborn learned to walk, the tradition of “towel hugs” began at our house. Here’s how it works. After the toddler/preschooler gets out of the bath, they give their hooded towel to Daddy, who is sitting on the floor in the living room. Then the toddler/preschooler, who is quite naked, goes into the kitchen and waits for Daddy’s signal. There is much giddiness in the midst of the waiting–the anticipation is almost too much! And when they hear the “Okaaaayyy!” from Daddy, the little nudist runs full-force from one room to the next, squealing and not slowing down a bit, right into the extended, towel-bearing arms of Daddy, who proceeds to be “knocked down backwards” as he embraces the little one in a towel hug, and much laughter ensues from both father and child. It is pure joy!

All three of my children enjoyed this little post-bathtime ritual. Katie, my youngest, actually created an extended version of this ritual for herself. One of the hooded towels looked like a duck, so after she got her towel hug, she proceeded to waddle and quack around the room until Daddy “shot” her. She would then fall to the ground, and he would go pick her up and carry the “dead duck” by the towel up to her room. I have no idea how or when this started; I just know that it always made us crack up and that Katie has just always liked to be carried as much as possible. But I digress…

Some nights the kids got just one towel hug, but other nights there were several. No matter the number, though, they never failed to produce laughter in all of us. But I think it was more than just something funny to do; it was a great way for father and child alike to show love for each other.

And what a beautiful expression it was! Here is a child, totally naked and uninhibited, running with full confidence into their father’s arms, knowing that he loves and cares for them completely and takes absolute joy in them! And isn’t that what we all crave? Isn’t that what babies enter the world naturally expecting?

Sadly, it is life that teaches us that this isn’t always a reality. We learn that people will let us down and tend to love us with condition or with strings attached–even those who are closest to us and love us the most. It is human nature. I personally believe that there is only one Father–God–who will never let us down or leave us or stop caring for us. His embrace is always open and waiting for us, and He takes such joy in us! I am learning to love my kids the way that I do because of the way that God loves me. My love is far from the perfection that is God’s love, but His love is my example.

My children are now 10, 12, and 14 years old, so it’s been a long time since we’ve done towel hugs. But my prayer is that they still know and believe that, although each of us has made and will continue to make a mess of things, we love our children completely and take such joy in them–that they can always run to us full-force and that we will always meet them with open arms.


Carrie Bevell Partridge wishes that every child in the world would experience the love of the Father.


About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at and

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