Researchers have found that what grown-up children look back on and value most is the time they spent with their parents – not the goodies, not the expensive gifts – but the quiet times, the fun times, the one-on-one talks.
One of the things most requested by my children was a time set aside for one child and one parent to share with each other. Any parent with more than one child can tell you how hard it is for each one to have equal time.
Our kids especially liked the “just mom and me” or “dad and me” idea. Each one always wanted that special time when just one of us would take them somewhere.
Author J. S. Salt in his book, “Always Kiss Me Good Night,” tells about asking more than a thousand kids to share what they would like to tell their parents about how best to raise them. Some of the responses follow.
-- “Stop talking on the phone and talk to me.” I don’t know of any child who is happy when a parent is on the phone. When my children were small, they always had an emergency question for me if I was on the phone. Today with all the cell phones in hand, the children many times have little chance to have their parents’ undivided attention.
-- “Keep your promises better.” Amen to that! Not much hurts worse than being promised something and then being told that it just can’t happen. Years ago my husband and I vowed to always keep our promises to our kids as much as humanly possible. If parents want the kids to keep their word, they need to practice promise keeping with them.
-- “Think about when you were a kid and don’t yell so much.” Do you like to be yelled at? Of course not. Nobody likes to be degraded by outbursts from others. As my son wrote in one of his personal information stories to a teacher, “I do best when people are nice to me.”
Kids certainly will need to be corrected, but it should be done with love and not by yelling and fit-throwing.
I watched two young men pick up their sons from elementary school one day and couldn’t keep from noticing how differently they handled the situation. One little boy was bouncing along beside his daddy, happy as a lark. The dad was smiling and obviously happy and proud as they got in the truck to go home.
The other little boy was carrying his book bag, not smiling, with his head slightly downward as his dad said in a terribly gruff and demanding voice, “What took you so long anyway? You get in that car!”
I had to fight back the tears as I looked over at the solemn lady waiting in the car, apparently the mother, and wondered what kind of home life that little boy had. How would he have the incentive to do his homework well if his father was like that when they got home?
-- “Say, ‘I love you’ once in a while – not just when I’m leaving for school.” It’s so important to say these words often and make the kids know we really mean what we’re saying.
-- “Treat me like your customer.” When our child disobeys or questions us, are we as nice to them as would be to a customer, a friend, or even a stranger?
-- “Let me get wet in the rain.” One of the sweetest joys our kids shared was playing in a summer shower or “puddle-hopping” after a big rain. My grandkids enjoyed doing that at my house just a few days ago.
-- “Don’t leave me in the car when you go to do stuff.” Of course, that’s a very dangerous thing in the summertime, but even if the temperature is decent, children don’t want to be left alone. They want to be a part of what’s going on.
-- “Snuggle me up in your arms.” Everyone likes to be snuggled, especially a child. They want us to just take the time to do it and not say we’re too busy.
-- “Tell me what I did right.” How often we point out what they did wrong but don’t bring attention to what they did right. We should make as big a deal about the good as we do the bad.
-- “Read to me (even though I can read.).” My younger daughter admits she wanted me to keep reading to her long after she could read on her own. She loved the different voices and expressions and being close beside me.
I wish I could say I’ve always handled my kids exactly right but I know I haven’t. If I could do it over, there are many things I would do differently.
When we become parents for the first time, we are inexperienced to say the least, and even though we can think of things we wish our parents had handled differently with us, we often get bogged down with the responsibility and fail to make the right choices ourselves. Nobody is perfect and our children will understand that if we at least spend time with them and do our best to be the person they need us to be. May God help us to take time, to show love and respect, and do our best to set the right example as we live day by day.
(Daily Corinthian columnist Lora Ann Huff is a Wenasoga resident and special columnist for the Daily Corinthian. Her column appears Friday. She may be reached at 1774 CR 700, Corinth, MS 38834.)