Whatever our reasons for having babies, when we introduce a newborn to this world, we make an implicit promise to devote large chunks of our invaluable time to care and love that young one. However, it’s a promise easily broken. Sometimes, after a weary day at work, it’s hard to entertain a child’s endless interrogation. It’s tempting to turn to the classic parenting line: “I’ve no time, go and watch TV.”
We forget that, like adults, children need time to talk, to reveal what’s in their little hearts and in their small world.
Because our grown-up brains may now be sluggish and rusty we forget that young minds hunger for knowledge. They’ve only been around for a few years and life on Mother Earth is new to them. How else are they supposed to understand the world if they don’t ask questions? Having such an attitude will make it easier to practise patience when bombarded with childish questions.
In these hectic times, we still endeavour to keep appointments with the dentist, the doctor, our boss, and our friends. Why then do we, at times, fail to make appointments with the most important beings in our lives - our children? Here’s a challenge: make an appointment to spend quantity time participating in different fun and educational activities with your child.
A friend of mine and his wife have made definite appointments with their two teenage daughters. For example, weekly, these parents set aside an hour or so to discuss a book dealing with issues facing young people. Page by page, as a family, they go through the book. To make this time special for their girls, the parents have introduced a ‘question time.’
During this session, the teenagers are free to ask the parents any question, including how the adults dealt with specific teen problems in their time. The parents have found that the time they spend with the teenagers has strengthened the family bond, improved heartfelt communication and eroded any generation gap.
Giving your child time has its unexpected benefits. A young father found out that when he got home and played with his one-year-old son, his work-related stress eased off. Spending time with the toddler proved therapeutic.
As grownups, the memories we cherish of our own childhood, are those moments when our parents devoted a lot of time to us: reading a book, camping, playing hide and seek, singing a lullaby or simply just being there. Likewise, we want to give our children the gift of our time, knowing that one day, in their adulthood, they’ll look back and muse, “Yes, I was loved.”
Do you struggle to find time to spend with your family? How do you address the problem?