Most of us agree that parenting is arguably the most important job anyone could do. In this post, I want to talk about the No. 1 reason why many parents today fail in their parenting job. The key word is “Time”.
When Internet hit the world, the complaints poured in from parents. Parents complained of children addicted to computer games, Internet chat rooms, demanding to have their own mobile phones and devices, so they could access anything online, anywhere.
A recent report illustrated that things have changed. The balance has now swung to the other side: A growing number of children are now complaining that their parents are so attached to their mobile phones and devices, it makes these children feel ignored and neglected. The word that came up repeatedly was, ‘sad’.
An eight-year-old boy said that pretty often, when he came to his mother to ask her about something, she would ask him to wait, so she could finish whatsapping a friend or finish her post on Facebook or Instagram or reply an email related to work – the list goes on.
It reminds me of the time when I was at a restaurant, waiting to be served. At the next table sat two women and a young girl, not more than five years old. As the two women checked their mobile phones, posed and snapped photos of themselves and rechecked their mobile phones, the little girl buried her head in her arms and looked away. There was such sadness in her face, I wish I could get up and tell the women to stop whatever they were doing and start paying attention to her.
The drama went on until I left.
Here is to remind you that TIME is the most valuable, important investment you could ever make as a parent. Take the time to look at your child when he comes to you. Take the time to listen and understand what she is saying. It won’t be long before they grow up. If you don’t give them your time when they need it, it is unlikely for them to make you their reference point when they need it.
At times, it is good to remind ourselves of the difference we parents can make to shape our children’s thoughts and actions. Perhaps you have heard of the oft-quoted saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. To an extent this is true, but taken to the extreme, it might imply as if we parents are off the hook and other people should bear the responsibility in case our offspring don’t turn out right.
So let us make the record straight. As a teacher of mine said, “Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but what a parent can do is much much more than what a village can do.” Never underestimate the power and influence that you, the parent, can make. All the little things that you do on a daily basis, which your kids observe, are the most powerful lessons you are imparting to your children. Never mind if the world is showing them something on the contrary.
Let me share a personal experience. Growing up, my parents never bought any entertainment magazine, the pages of which were filled with reports and photos of actors, singers and entertainers. Ever. What they did buy were other reading materials that were worth reading.
I saw plenty of entertainment magazines whenever I visited my cousins’ and neighbours’ homes. My parents never told me not to buy those magazines. Yet it never crossed my mind to read, let alone buy them. When it comes to raising the future generation, action speaks louder than words. Case closed.
This article was published in page 35 of the February 2016 edition of Alwasat, a bilingual Australian newspaper based in Melbourne. Read it online at https://issuu.com/alwasat2011/docs/february_2016