We get so distracted by our devices, our jobs and our general business that we forget children need and want the simplest things from us:
- Having picnics in our own gardens
- Cooking together
- Washing cars together
- Cuddling in bed together
- Talking in the car together
- Talking to them when they’re in our trolleys at the shops
- Watching them play sport or perform without interfering or pressurising them
- Reading extra-long bedtime stories to them
- Playing a game together
- Teaching them life skills so that they will learn how to be independent
They want our time and attention – it’s the currency that runs between us. They want togetherness and we often don’t realise it. Instead, we:
- Micro-manage their every move every day, either in person or via a third party
- Are not present because we are busy building careers or, in many cases, earning a living just to get by
- Buy them the latest and greatest gadgets because they must have them
- Dress them in all the right brands
- Put them through and expensive education which they may or may not need
- Enrol them in way too many extramural activities to ensure we tap into their talent
- Spend a lot of time on our devices in their company – our cellphones, laptops and tablets
I’m not making this stuff up. At the end of a recent Parenting on the Run workshop I presented at the Working Mothers Expo, there happened to be two little girls in the room who were about 8 and 11 years old. As a rule, children are not supposed to be in my parenting workshops because I talk about them, of course. However, this being an open, public expo, I could not stop them. They lapped up everything and loved the dice games that were played.
So, I finished my talk and the organiser handed the microphone around for audience to ask questions. The last hand that went up was from the eight-year old little girl, who burst into tears and asked what she should do if her mummy never plays with her, even when she is home and in the house. It was heart-wrenching and 80+ mothers were instantly brought to tears. This was living proof that my argument was sound and that children are desperate for real connection with us in the simplest of ways.
This festive season, don’t make parenting more complicated or more expensive than it needs to be. Keep it simple and keep finding new ways to connect with your children. They want and need you. The game we need to play to make them independent and confident children is to connect and then let go a little bit, connect again and let go a little bit more, and so it goes on with us loving and yet releasing our children into the world. I call it Let Go & Let Grow. Think about it.