Children are needy creatures. It’s a given that they need food, clothing and shelter. As a parent, I want to give them other things as well. I think it’s in our nature to give to our children. However, it’s easy to confuse children’s needs and their greeds.
If you’re like me, you want to give them opportunities and things that you didn’t have growing up. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking our children really do need the latest electronic device or gadget. (I’m guilty of this too.)
It’s also easy to think we have to have them involved in every extracurricular activity. We justify this by saying, “It will make them a better person” or “It will help their self-esteem”. While some of this may be true, I wonder if we often do these things because it helps us to feel better about ourselves as parents? For some reason, we feel like a better parent when we’re giving something to our children. I wonder how much we do for our children is really about our self-esteem as parents?
The reality is our children really don’t need a lot of things from us, but what they do need is some intangible things. I began to ponder what my children really needed to be a successful adult one day. This is important to think about because eventually, I want them off of my payroll and onto someone else’s.
I asked myself this question, “If I couldn’t give my children another thing what could they get from me that would meet their emotional and intellectual needs?”
I came up with a short list of intangible items:
They need to know they have my undivided attention. They shouldn’t have to compete with my iPhone for my attention. (It hurts to type this!) This might mean cutting my phone off or leaving it in another room. Your iPhone isn’t going to visit you when you get older.
Your children need to be hugged, kissed and wrestled with. Simply put, children need to be touched by their parents. Studies have shown that children who are shown physical affection by their parents grow up to be more emotionally stable adults. While in college, a professor said something I’ve never forgotten, “If you don’t love on your children, someone else will.”
Your children should know you love them, but they need to know you like them as well. They also need to know you accept them for who they are. Your children are individuals and they should be treated as such. My children’s personalities are different, so I respond to each one of them differently.
(I couldn’t think of an “A” word for this one!) The greatest way to show you love them is by spending time with them. If you have girls, plan dates with them. If you have boys, you can have “man-dates” with them.
While we can’t give our children everything, we can give them these things. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder as to what is really important concerning our children. Our children need us and not just our stuff.