Every child needs to feel like he is cared for and loved in equal measures by both his parents. Unfortunately, it often happens that children become closer to one parent, while the other parent stays out of touch, for long hours on business and work commitments. Today, family has become a part of parents’ schedule, and not vice versa. The ideal way to spend leisure time with children, should be to keep work and family time separate from each other, while giving due justice to both areas of our life.
Negative Impact of Less Family Time
Guilt and Its Effects
When parents are not able to spend time with their children, they feel guilty and left out. Which loving father or mother wouldn’t wish to spend some time having fun with their kids, and getting to know each other better? When parents are on a time crunch and find themselves reaching home late, they too feel disappointed with themselves for not having done enough. This guilt can make them avoid their kids all together, or get too bogged down by stress, which makes them snap and get irritated with the children and the spouse. So much of misery simply states that the anger is coming from love and the inability to express it. The flip side to this guilt is that, parents end up trying to buy love from their children by giving them gifts, toys, candies, and more pocket-money. This results in children throwing tantrums, when parents don’t buy them something they want. Children innocently perceive gifts as the modus operandi of how their parents show affection towards them.
Children Feel Weary
When a child doesn’t get to see and interact with a parent or both his parents, he/she is bound to feel unloved and detached. The answer to a good upbringing is not to raise the child through a nanny, babysitter or grandparents. What children need is quality time with parents, as often as possible. Remember quality does not imply quantity, as the two are very different aspects. Parents may spend hours with their children, but if those hours are spent admonishing, criticizing, and arguing with the children and the spouse, then the entire objective is defeated. Children end up feeling weary of their parents and often tend to ignore and shun interaction.
In cases, where parents and children do not get to spend much time talking to one another, children often end up answering back and being rude. Children feel alienated, uncared for and retaliatory against their parents. This problem is conventionally associated with adolescence and teenagers, but even children as young as 6-8 are increasingly showing similar rebellious behavior. Such children feel that their parents do not understand them and are too wound up in their own lives and their jobs. Children who are looked after by loving grandparents are comparatively luckier than kids who grow up with babysitters. This is where things can take a turn for the worse. Unhappy children will make friends with the wrong company at school, they will become rude and troublesome during class and may even take to bullying other kids. All these actions are blatant signs that the child is not being given the care and love he deserves. It’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure such an eventuality does not occur.
Unless there is at least one parent monitoring the child’s education during the initial few years, the lack of educational assistance can severely hamper the learning aptitude of the child. Learning has to be made fun and interactive for the child, by both the parents. A recent study shows that children who are taught by the father are relatively sharper and more receptive to new information. Such kids fare better in academic and IQ results. They are also naturally tuned to be more street-smart, thereby making them gear up for looking after their own interests and security as they grow older. Children who are left to care for themselves, often score lesser in studies, as they get easily distracted by toys, Internet and TV. Even if there is a babysitter at hand for helping in the homework, the end results will not be as satisfactory as compared to when parents take interest in teaching the child themselves. Always remember that children need dollops of love and affection, and at the same time need soothing discipline, so as to help them mend their errors.
Importance of Spending Quality Time with Children
It takes time to create and maintain relationships. Similarly as parents, we need to take time out for our kids. Everyday is important and every free minute counts. Making an effort to utilize every moment possible, will allow you to spend more a good amount of time with your kids. You may not see much coming off it now, but this practice will yield its positive results in the future, when the kids are in high school and college etc. Gaining the trust of your children is the greatest asset any parent can hope for and once you’re in their good books, you can be assured that your children will never make wrong decisions, when it comes to their own lives. It is important for parents to be aware of the events happening in their child’s life, and must participate in discussion, so as to guide them to the right path. Growing up can be confusing and adolescence difficult. Parents can share their own experiences and failures with their children, so that the child is made aware of the consequences of their thoughts and actions.
Instilling Everlasting Values
Children observe, process, and assimilate values from their parents as well as their immediate surrounding. Everything they learn is through years and years of ingraining of morals and principles, which the family upholds. Children learn to be respectful towards elders and protective towards younger siblings and cousins. They learn the difference between right and wrong, safe and unsafe. They grow up to understand the value of education, hard work, honesty, kindness, and forgiveness. Children gradually become more receptive to the challenges their parents face and all the hardships they have undergone in their own personal lives for attaining the standard of life they enjoy today.
Acceptance and Strength of Character
A family offers the perfect environment for the child to develop a healthy and balanced personality. Good parents accept their children for who they are and never compare them or judge them. Children must be given the freedom to express their feelings, and creativity without a worry in the world. Parents must be aware of their children’s talents and accordingly provide them with further training and encouragement, so that the children feel more confident about themselves. Confidence can take people far and help them contribute positively to the society. Similarly your child too can grow up to become a confident individual, only and only if you give him/her your support.
Ways to Spend Time with Your Kids
#1 Family Comes First
You will need to reschedule your timetable, so that half an hour or more, each day is devoted only for the children. This time must be spent doing various activities such as, playing, listening to music, rolling on the carpet or the garden, playing catch, or simply taking a walk, while talking. If you have more than one child, you will need to ensure that you give individual attention to each child everyday, so that none feels left out or less loved. Speak to your spouse about this new change and set a fixed hour for each parent. The ideal option is to eat breakfast or dinner together as a family, each and every day. Parents can sit together and read a story for their kids, before tucking the kids in bed. Praying together is also an excellent time for bonding.
#2 Quality vs Quantity
The objective is to spend the free time you get with your children, in a productive and positive manner. Utilize every bit of free time you get, which could include the time when you are driving your child to school and back, or when they come back from school and have not yet sat down to start their homework. Wake them up half an hour earlier on school days, so that you can have fun preparing breakfast together. Make it a point to start no TV time so that the kids do not while away this precious time watching cartoons and advertisements. You can have fun preparing dinner together and washing the dishes thereafter. You can have fun selecting what clothes the kids will be wearing the next day to school, by dressing up and poking fun at each other. All of this need not be done within one day and can be spread over the entire week as well as the weekend.
#3 Always Thinking of You
If your job drags you down into late hours, you will naturally not be able to accomplish the usual daily bonding activities. Instead, you could always keep reminding the kids that you are constantly thinking about them and missing them. Leave small notes in the lunch bag or on top of their neatly piled clothes for the day. Make them their favorite breakfast and set it on the table, so that when the kids wake up, they will know you made it specially for them. If you are on a business trip and cannot make it home for the next few days, you can leave voice recorded messages on the machine or the cell phone. Make it a point to video chat with them online every night, so that you can talk about their day and wish them goodnight.
#4 Peer vs Parent
When it comes to dealing with teenagers, the dynamics of the relationship can turn tricky. At times you will need to put yourself in their shoes, so as to help you understand what they’re going through. You will need to treat your teenager as a peer in order to gain his trust, however hard it may seem. Nonetheless, you must know where to draw the line, so that they don’t get carried away. You must make sure that you step in as the parent, when required. The best way to deepen the bond with your teenager is to share your experiences with him/her. Talk about your heartbreaks and dilemmas that you faced, while growing up. The confusion and the resentment you experienced as a teenager and how you dealt with them and found appropriate solutions. Talk about the mistakes you made and how you tried to mend your way, through the years. Your teenager will respect your honesty and will gain invaluable insight about life.
No matter how busy you may be or how wound up with chores, always remember to hug your children and let them know that you love them. You’d be surprised if you found out how much these gestures matter, in the long run.