To help your children turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Life’s Little Instruction Book
Today’s Meditation :
Our society tends to push the narrative that children are more interested in toys than affection, that they desire things more than they desire the company of those who love them, and unfortunately a lot of parents buy into this myth. But children do not want more things… they want more time; they want to be loved, to be noticed and feel relevant, to be shown consideration and concern. They want to be shown all the love and affection that their parents can give to them, even during those times when they put up walls or wear masks to hide their feelings.
Perhaps this has something to do with the growing number of adolescents and teens who are suffering from depression. Children who do not receive affection from their parents will often times develop coping strategies to deal with not getting it such as acting like they do not want or need it. This is confusing to the parents as it sends the wrong signals, and then parents who are not spending enough time with their children feel that the child does not want them to anyway, which can lead down a dangerous path: if we become too uninvolved in our child’s life, they may go looking elsewhere for that missing affection, be that in bad relationships, gangs, drugs, sex, violence, or some other negative and unhealthy place.
As parents, we are the adults… we are the ones who need to be cognizent of the needs of our children. And because we have the benefit of living through childhood, and of growing wiser with our years of education and experience, we should know better than to neglect our youth–whether they are our children or simply a part of our lives somehow. And although buying something for a child will bring about momentary satisfaction, and allow us to experience that momentary excitment and joy from getting something new, that happiness is transitory; spending time with that child, however, will last forever in the hearts of both them and us.
The majority of people will tell you that the adults that made the greatest positive impact on them as children, were the ones who made time for them. In truth, our children will remember us for how well we loved them–how often we held them, read to them, listened to them, encouraged them, and supported them–not for the things we bought them.
Today’s Challenge: Spend quality time with a child.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of adults had the strongest effect on you when you were young? How did you feel when someone spent time with you?
How do we get the idea that most kids want us to buy them things instead of spending time with them? Is that accurate? Even if it is accurate, do the kids necessarily know what’s best for them, or just what they want in terms of immediate gratification?
Why do so many adults spend so little time with young people?
If we had paid no more attention to our plants than we have to our children, we would now be living in a jungle of weeds.