If we want to be connected to our children in loving ways we need to spend time with them—a lot of time! This statement isn’t meant to make people feel guilty. It just happens to be true. In order to connect with another person you have to spend time with him or her and that goes double for children. Children don’t fully understand the future and they don’t care about the past. What they know is the present and that is part of what makes them so delightful. You can remind them that you spent the previous day with them going to the zoo. Okay. That’s fine. You can promise that you will see them on the weekend. Yeah. Sure. But what they know is the now—the precious present.
So how much time is enough? We can’t be with them every minute. We have many demands on our time. I know very well the conflict I felt about this issue. I worked part time all throughout my four sons’ growing up. It seemed that I was always dealing with the question of how much time to spend on work and how much with my family. I made shortcuts on housework, PTA and other activities that I felt were expendable.
But perhaps the amount of time isn’t the real question. The real question is whether we make our children a part of our lives—at work, at home and everywhere. Do we let them know about what we do? Do take them to work if that is feasible? Do we take an interest in their developing hobbies and activities? Do we impact them and allow them to impact us?
Emotional presence is easy to spot, especially when it is absent, but it is difficult to describe. There is a great deal of research on mothers and infants that identify the ways in which mothers are emotionally present for their children. Observers have identified real and measurable factors that distinguish successful parents from those whose children may be at risk. I have described several of those elements in my book Family Entanglement: Unraveling the Knots and Finding Joy in the Parent-Child Journey at www.amazon.com If you want to read further about this important topic please check it out.
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Last reviewed: 18 Aug 2014