Children are unique in many ways. From crib to college, they are personalities that are as different as the wild flowers in any field. Just like these blooms, they are the golden beauty of the hand that created them, and the graceful delicate notes of a sonnet. They are just beginning and so the freshness of all they see, do, and say are gems that may need a lot of polishing, but underneath there is always the brilliance of precious jewels and stones that only can come from years of absorbing love, care, and nurturing.
It is a very sad fact that over three billion people go to bed hungry in the world every single night. A fact that is much sadder is that over four billion children go to bed hungry for love, attention, and encouragement. While their physical bodies are growing, their need for more than sustenance seems to expand and encompass their entire existence.
Many parents lament the fact that children just don’t listen to them. These parents are positive that their knowledge from facing every day life, getting through hurdles in handling situations such as jobs, careers, and money are far beyond the reach of their offspring, but still children just don’t hear what a parent is trying to teach them. The truth of the matter is that children do not really care how much you know or just how smart you are until they know and are sure just how much you care about them and love them. They can sense a parent who feels only the need to be a parent, but not someone who a child can turn to, talk to, or even dream with. I am not saying that parents should be “pals” with their children. They are and always will be the parents, the adults in the home, but children want a confidant, a listener, and someone who loves with no strings and no boundaries. They realize that if you don’t love them with open arms no matter what they do, you have to love them with bear hugs for who they are and who they are yet to become. Parents may hate and detest an action, but the child should always be the recipient of unconditional love and always to be allowed to start over and move on.
It may only take the parents’ time to eat meals together at least a few times a week, or for one parent to walk to the library with a child and just “listen.” It can be taking out some books yourself, as the example of your wanting to nurture reading in your child will then be more of a concrete belief than just “words.” If you want your child to follow, words may introduce a concept, but actions will culminate the lesson. While driving, if you don’t wear a seatbelt, then the message is not “Put on your seat belt”, it will be “Choose the law you wish to obey or the one you would like to ignore.” Which lesson then is the one that you are trying to convey?
If you as a parent regard your job as a paycheck from week to week, then the directive that is being given to the child is that work is a chore, it is only an economic means of getting what you really want in life, and you must take a job as only “making time.” If this is the message, then the sad fact is that a child sees it as a person’s outlook on life determining their output into life. If you only do the minimum to get by, then what you put out will reflect this as your goal. However, if your passion for work or hobby is exuberant and worth pursuing, then the child will follow suit and find challenges and problems only bridges to be crossed and setbacks as small hills to be conquered. Makes quite a difference doesn’t it?
However you decide to make your child feel loved and special, know that it is not the amount of money you spend on them, or the elaborate ways you try to communicate, because in the long-run, the bottom line is that children will always spell love as T-I-M-E. This time is spent with you, it is time spent in growing and learning, and together with you, they can grow in both body and character, and they can learn ways to reach the stars, but they will need that map and those directions that only come with TIME, because TIME will always translate into LOVE. Something to think about.
©Arleen M. Kaptur March, 2009