Your “love” is NOT enough – nor is just your time – so how do you win??
But I’m not writing this article with intentions to make anyone feel bad, or guilty, defeated or annoyed… in fact, my intentions of writing this article are the complete opposite. I write this with intentions of getting you to confront the real truth, so that you are then able to make the corrections and set yourself free from feelings that are less than empowering for you and your child, such as guilt, condemnation, regret, helplessness etc.
There is one ingredient that most of us miss, that I discovered, and believe to be the most important…
Allow me to explain…
Recently, I read an incredible book, “The road less travelled“, that I believe explains love the best I have ever heard it explained… let me share it with you, exactly as it is written in this book…
“When we love something, it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us we spend time with it, time enjoying it, time taking care of it. Observe a teenager in love with his car and note the time he will spend admiring it, polishing it, repairing it, tuning it. Or an older person with a beloved rose garden, and the time spent pruning and mulching and fertilizing and studying it. So it is when we love our children; we spend time admiring them and caring for them. We give them our time.”
When we have no time to give our children, or no time that we are willing to give, we are essentially showing them that they are not of value to us, and therefore, essentially, we are not showing that we “love” them… on this point, I want to share one more excerpt from the book before I explain what I believe to be the missing ingredient in “loving” our children, that we can implement immediately, and turn everything around, EVEN if you don’t have much time!!!
The book goes on to say, “the time and the quality of time that their parents devote to them indicate to children the degree to which they are valued by their parents. Some basically unloving parents, in an attempt to cover up their lack of caring, repetitively and mechanically telling them how much they are valued, but not devoting significant time of high quality to them. Their children are never totally deceived by such hollow words. Consciously, they may cling to them, wanting to believe that they are loved, but unconsciously they know that their parents’ words do not match up with their deeds.
On the other hand, children who are truly loved, unconsciously know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold. For when children know that they are valued, when they truly feel valued in the deepest parts of themselves, then they feel valuable. The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ – is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood; it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood. Conversely, when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adulthood to destroy their spirit”.
I must say, I completely and utterly agree with this author… think about it… how many times did your parents “tell you” they love you, but you never really felt like they did? You might “know” that they love you, because that’s what they are supposed to do, but you never “felt” it. Or how many people do you know who had “stay at home mums” who were home with them all of the time, but they still didn’t truly feel loved, at the depth of their souls, even though their parent was always ‘around’? So then, it could be concluded, that love isn’t something you say, it’s something you DO… words of “love”, and the giving of “time” are not enough on their own… so what is the missing ingredient?
The perfect answer to the unrelenting need to know we are loving our children enough, and that they don’t just “know” it with their knowledge, but they FEEL it in their souls
(and we don’t drown trying to save them by giving them time we don’t have!)
So, to this point, we have established that in order for our children to feel loved, they must feel valued. And in order for them to feel valued, we must give them our time, because we always give our TIME to things we VALUE.
But in a world of insatiable demands that continue to pull us in every different direction, where we continually struggle to meet these demands, and despite our best efforts, still never feel like we meet them, amongst all this, how do we make sure our kids feel loved, with the limited time we actually have?
Personally, I don’t believe they need more of our time… they need more of our attention. In fact, this isn’t just my “belief”, or my own “opinion”. I’m going to be as bold as to say I know this is a FACT. I know it, because it works with my children, and it works with the many, many others that I have made suggestions to regarding this…
You CAN give your children more LOVE without giving them more TIME, and in fact, by giving them even less time, just by giving them your full ATTENTION with the limited time you’ve got… here’s what I know from my own experience…
Sometimes, just before I rush out to business meetings of an evening, I have spent the last couple of hours rushing around after school, meeting the never-ending demands of dropping them to dance, gymnastics, then home for dinner, then they eat while I get dressed, and then I’m out the door… on those days, I know I don’t have much “time” to give them… and so I just make sure I give them my FULL attention. Sometimes it is literally only for 3 or 4 minutes (no exaggeration!)… but I can guarantee you that those few minutes are enough to fill their little love buckets right to the top so that they are overflowing, if you give them your full attention during those few minutes.
On days like this, my girls are happier, calmer, feel more loved and aren’t craving attention as much as they do on days where it’s a weekend, we’re relaxing around the house not doing much, and I’m in the same room for hours on end, but they don’t get my attention because I’m reading a book, or playing on my phone, developing my website, or on facebook.
So in summary, making sure your children feel loved and valued has nothing to do with the amount of time you can give them, it has EVERYTHING to do with the amount of ATTENTION you give them. Your attention must be undivided and laser focused on nothing but them for just a few minutes…
You’ll end up with happy, love-filled children, and a content, at-peace parent!