Take the Time to Be a Good PARENT
Extracurricular activities are good for children, but they should not replace the time parents spend with their children. Peer pressure guides our lives as well as those of our children. We want our children to have the opportunities that other children have, and we find ourselves enrolling them in activities just because someone we know said it was wonderful for their children. Summer camps, piano and tennis lessons, dancing, and sports are all good for your children, but they shouldn’t take the place of parenting time.
Parents need to sit down with their children and make group decisions about which activities the children get involved with. If children are involved in too many activities, they end up feeling tired. By cutting back, the children will likely be better rested and less tired. Also, parents won’t feel like the family chauffeur, and they may see an improvement in the activities in which the children do remain involved.
Families need to go back to a less stressed–out way of living. They need to spend more time with each other, even if it’s quiet time for everyone. When was the last time you spent a quiet afternoon doing nothing but playing with your children or listening to them read a book? Also, it’s important that we teach our children how to amuse themselves when their peers are not around.
This day in age, we are not teaching our children to enjoy being home. Most parents would rather have their children anywhere else but at home. It’s not easy having a house full of kids. I know! The house will always be messy. The floors will never be clean. The phone will never stop ringing. And the pantry will always be empty. It means spending a lot of Friday and Saturday nights at home because your children are having friends over. However, the rewards of getting to know your children’s friends far outweigh any inconvenience.
There was a time when mothers taught their daughters how to set a table, sew a button on a blouse, or bake a cake. Fathers taught their sons how to paint a fence or how to work with tools. Teaching these activities to a child meant that a parent had to spend time with their children. They were allowing their children the opportunities to form a relationship with them. While sharing an activity you both enjoy, help create the environment to form relationships with your children and afford them opportunities to bring up important issues that are necessary in working out the sometimes very complex relationship between a parent and a child.
Parents today are not communicating with their children, because they are not taking the time to really know who their children are. Children are growing up facing important issues on their own because Mom and Dad are not home or just don’t take the time to spend with them.
It’s tough raising children today. Even when you’re there for you them, situations arise that you have no control over. Your children will do things you don’t agree with. It’s a tug of war. As parents you will be pulling at one end trying not to lose the grip on your child, and your child will be pulling on the other end letting go of the rope every once in awhile to experiment.
The important thing is that children know that they can let go of the rope, but as soon as they feel like they’re drowning, they can latch on again and there will always be someone at the other end ready to reel them in.
The gift of time is the most important gift we can give our children. Once they grow up and leave home –and if we haven’t shared our lives with them– they will not be sharing their lives with us.
By Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, certified parent educator and parent coach with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom, and Redirecting Corporate America.