I’m sitting here at the desk in a cold upstairs family room. The kids are at school, I’ve got the iTunes playing and I’m contemplating whether or not to turn the heater on. The side of me that loves comfort says, “yeah, turn it on” which is battling the side of me that likes to save money. I guess I’ll stick with the latter until my fingers stiffen as I type.
My tip for today may seem simple, but read on to discover there’s more to giving your child real attention. Yes, that’s the tip: giving your child real attention. Now, I don’t want to heap on guilt, I simply feel compelled to help parents not make the mistakes I’ve made.
What I’m encouraging is for parents to be genuine about their interactions with their kids. This means, giving eye contact, putting the phone down, or putting the pot on simmer, but it also means more than that. It means giving of yourself to them and this does require insight and an amount of sacrifice at times.
Really giving of yourself means you may be hanging up on someone who’s crying their troubles, you might be skipping the best part of the movie when you don’t have DVR. You may have to close the Facebook chat or skip a day on your blog. It does seem that our attention is beaconed at inconvenient times.
So, why all this attention and sacrifice to your children? Can’t their needs be less now that they’re older and can fend for themselves? Here’s why… because children need us at all ages. Listening to them while they’re young will lay a strong foundation for future, difficult times.
If I could re-parent my children, I’d go back to those days when I’d constantly hear, “mom, mom!” and I’d put down what I was doing and check to see what it was they wanted and then decide if there was any more of me they needed. What I mean is that I would be more intentional in my interactions throughout the day. If what they needed was simply locating a toy or finding a favorite clothing item, I might linger a little longer to see if this interaction might turn into more conversation. Who knows, I may have heard, “Mom, I had a bad day today, or mom, somebody called me a name.”
Sadly, half-way attention can lead to detachment. I know because I have three children and they all know when I give them real attention or not and they’ve known this for quite a while.
They know when I’m engaged for real or not. Now that they’re teenagers, they don’t hesitate to tell me or quiz me on what they’ve shared. This is embarrassing and humbling at the same time.
On the other hand, I actually enjoy when they call me out these days. In the past, I think they gave up or didn’t say anything and so the lines of communication kind of shut down and this led to a break down in our relationships.
Truth is, my heart aches when I realize how my relationships with my kids was affected. If I could only take back teh attitude of not caring or busyness. Actually, I do today. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.
So, give real time to your children today. Help them to practice opening up to you and sharing their day. Ask them to tell you a positive moment and a negative moment or simply hang around a little longer. Be available.
Go to them, seek them out, follow them around one day. See if this leads to them sharing themselves with you.