Children need parent’s presence,time and attention

by Mary Ann on January 24, 2011

Time and attention are rare and valuable gifts

pictures of grandparents

Don and Mary Ann

Don and I have been married almost 40 years. It has been a good marriage and we have raised a fine family. But we have been married a long time!

The other day I mentioned that I thought we needed a little romance. We have had plenty of romance in our marriage, just not lately. I was certainly feeling the need to have some.

A few days ago Don was home and spent a couple of hours in the kitchen making a terrific casserole for lunch. He set the table and we ate together, a thing that doesn’t happen often in the middle of the day. It was nice and we had a fine conversation. We both enjoyed it. As we were finishing he looked at me and said, “This is how I’m romancing you.” Hmmmm. I just smiled and didn’t say a thing.

Last night romance came up again. He said, “Gee, honey, I made you a casserole.”

“Don, a casserole is not romance. It is nice, it is kind and it is serving but it isn’t romance. I think you have been married too long and need to look romance up in the dictionary.”

“Then I don’t get any points for romance, right.”

“Right, no points.”

grandparents photos

Now I am not mad at Don. I love him very much but I am not getting what I need which is some romance. Used as a verb it means ‘to court’. So I am not getting what I need and he is disappointed because he took two hours and did something for me and still gets no points for romance.

Parents find themselves in this same situation, getting no points when they think they are filling a child’s need for their presence.

Children need and want your presence. They ask for it in many ways. They snuggle up beside you and ask, “Whatcha doin mom/dad?” They keep coming to you when they know you are busy and they ask silly questions. They throw a tantrum. Oh yes, they ask for our presence in many ways.

busy mom clip art

Taking care of "business"

We parents are frequently confused and frustrated because we aren’t getting our well deserved points. Didn’t we just cook and serve a wonderful meal which we all sat down and ate? Didn’t you just take them clear across town to their ballet lessons and don’t you take the time to do that every week. Didn’t you wash the clothes and hang your daughter’s favorite dress in the closet so she could have it for the party tonight.  And didn’t you sit with the whole family while they watched Benji?

Because you have invested so much time you equate that with being present with your children, just like Don thought investing time equated to romance. But you aren’t present,  you are being kind, you are nice, you are taking care of business and you are serving. You are not really being present.

Here is how I learned about presence for the first time. Oh, I had had plenty of opportunities to learn it but it just hadn’t sunk in. This time, however, I got the message.

When my daughter Marie was about three she and I had an experience that opened my eyes to the importance of being present, even for small amounts of time. I was in the middle of a sewing project. I do not love sewing! Worse, this project had a deadline which was fast approaching. Marie kept coming in and bothering me. She asked questions, whined about this and that, asked for food and on and on.

beautiful little girl pictures

Marie at three

Finally, I was ready to yell, maybe swat! Fortunately for me a thought came into my mind from somewhere outside of myself. I like to think that Heavenly Father was teaching me this principle. The thought was, “Why don’t you just hug her.” So that is what I did. I gathered her up and I gave her a loooong hug and said “I love you”. She went off happy as a clam and interestingly enough never came back. She just wanted a moment of my presence.

I have a friend and mentee who has nine children all under 11 living with her right now. She was distracted, interrupted and overly busy one day. They just never got to family learning time. As the day wore on the children became awful; they were fighting, noisy, making messes. Finally just before dinner she just stopped and they had their structured family learning time. It wasn’t a long amount of time but she listened to them. She read to them. She engaged with them and had fun with them. She said it made a difference in the rest of the evening. They calmed down. Things were more peaceful. They enjoyed eating together and being with each other.

She asked me if stopping in the middle of her dinner preparation was the right to do. Was she giving in to their naughtiness? She wondered if she did it because she felt that she owed it to them. I responded, “No, you didn’t owe it to them. You gave it to them because you love them and it was the right thing to do. They needed and wanted your presence.”

parent child pictures

Time and attention are rare and valuable gifts

Being present [effective home school teaching strategies] isn’t about taking care of children’s needs. It isn’t about doing our mom and dad thing. It is about giving our children our whole attention even if only for a moment or two. This is what children need and want and ask for in many ways and will keep asking until they get it.

Being present is a rare and valuable gift we can give to our children. Give your children that gift.

Would you like to learn more about being present and working with children ? Read children working together

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly January 28, 2011 at 12:23 am

Beautiful examples of how we all show and receive love so differently. And a lovely reminder to simply be present. To ourselves, our partners and our children. Thank you Mary Ann!


Kimberly January 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

Oh here is this video I think you will appreciate!


Mary Ann January 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm

This was just great. I sent it to my husband and I think he is really going to appreciate it! Thank you. : )


SnoopyGirl January 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Thank you for this wonderful reminder to be in the moment and to really reach out to our children instead of getting agitated that they are interrupting us. It is really why we are here. What could be more important?


Mary Ann January 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Absolutely nothing! Thank you for visiting, reading and understanding. : )


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