Don’t you hate it that I have started out this recommendation with the word attention?
Educators and child psychologists tell us that the first three to four years of a child’s life are critical, formative years that greatly determine the basic make up of the “person.” Certainly everyone develops beyond those early years, but the core of the individual is established by then. Although things were tight financially, I was blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with both of my kids during those highly developmental years.
A dear friend of mine, actually my hero, paid an unexpected visit to me one afternoon when my son, Brett, was young. After I apologized profusely for the mess around the house, she hugged me and brought everything back into focus for me with this one statement, “Cathy, someday – all too soon – Brett will be gone from your house and you will not be able to do with him what you are doing right now. You are an excellent mother because you spend time with Brett rather than spending all of your time worrying about things that don’t really matter. Someday you can spend all of your time cleaning house if you choose, but… you stay right there on that floor playing with that little boy.” Wow! Talk about getting my priorities back in place!
Making decisions and getting priorities correct are a part of our daily lives. I always ask myself the following question when I have to make a decision between two things: “In the span of a lifetime, which will make the greatest difference?” It is a good way for me to get and keep my priorities in order when I am confused. I have taught my clients and my kids to ask themselves the same question when the decision is a difficult one.
I know that many families today don’t have the same opportunities that I had. Single parents who are trying to put food on the table may not be able to make the choice of staying at home like I did. Even if you are not able to have a parent or grandparent home with the children, select your child’s caregiver carefully. This will have a strong impact on the development of your child and who they will become as they mature. Your child may spend eight or more hours with a caregiver rather than a parent, so invest some time on determining if your choice of caregiver is just right for you and for your child.
When you are with your child, give them your focus and attention. They will need your love, your listening ear, and your cuddling–no matter how much they get from someone else.
Quality time means knowing when it is important to be with each other. This means for you and your kids . When is it important to you that you be with them? When is it important to them that you are there? Sometimes, kids say that they don’t care to protect their feelings, and sometimes they truly do not care; however, if you want to be there–tell them so!
All too quickly, children go on to their own lives, and, as parents, we miss them much more than they miss us. As they continue their journey, make sure they know that they are a top priority to you. Allow them to carry that knowledge in their hearts long after you are gone.
Allow your children to become…