Prince Harry is speaking out about the lack of physical affection he received throughout his childhood and how it affects him as a father today.
On Saturday, the Duke of Sussex discussed his four-year-old son, Archie, and one-year-old daughter, Lilibet, whom he shares with wife Meghan Markle, during a live streamed conversation with Dr Gabor Maté. The conversation centred on mental health awareness and personal healing.
During the conversation, Maté pointed out that in Harry’s tell-all memoir, Spare, he wrote about the lack of hugs he received from members of the royal family. When asked how this family dynamic has impacted his parenting skills, the duke said it encouraged him be more affectionate with his children.
“It leaves me in the position now, as a father of two kids of my own, to make sure that I smother them with love and affection,” he said. “Not smother them to the point where they’re trying to get away and I’m like, ‘No, come here I need to hug you.’”
He then shared what he feels his responsibilities are as a parent.
“I, as a father, feel a huge responsibility that I don’t pass on any traumas, or any I guess negative experiences, that I’ve had as a kid or as a man growing up, and that’s work,” he said. “That’s putting in the work and that’s daily being cautious of my behaviour and my reactions to both of my kids.”
The 38-year-old also noted that he’s “caught himself” in moments where he should have been “smothering [his] children with that love”.
“And in that moment I might not be, and I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no, if you’re here, you need to. If you’re here...and this is where everyone else is. You need to be here,’” he continued. “And I enjoy that…And I wouldn’t have been as aware of it if I had not done the therapy and the work that I’ve done.”
Maté then asked Harry how he thought his children would be impacted if they weren’t hugged growing up. In response, he said: “I don’t know what the impact would be, but I think the result would be very similar.”
“And that’s why again, I am grateful to have been able to change my environment. Which I fully appreciate that not everyone can do,” he continued.
Throughout his memoir Spare, Harry reflected on the lack of hugging throughout his childhood and revealed that he never hugged his grandmother. In an excerpt from the memoir, he writes about seeing his grandmother enjoying her Golden Jubilee concert in 2002 and why he opted not to hug her even though he wanted to.
“To see her tapping her foot and swaying in time, I wanted to hug her,” he wrote. “But of course I didn’t. Out of the question. I never had done and couldn’t imagine any circumstance under which such an act would be sanctioned.”
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