In our world today, parents can often feel that they are not being good parents unless their children have access to countless battery-operated toys, or even more extra-mural activities and sports to choose from. The result is a parent who is running from pillar to post in an effort to give their child everything they can…
But what matters most to children? Is it all the goodies, a designer room, and a jam-packed schedule? Or is it the smile on your face when they walk into a room? If you guessed the latter, you’re right.
Over 16 years, Erin Kurt (a US based teacher) asked her students every Mother’s Day to give her tips on being a better mother. Every year, no matter what country she found herself in, or what the demographic of the students in her class was, the answers were always the same – it’s the small things that parents do that make the biggest difference to their children.
Here is her top 10 list of all time:
1. Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in and sing me a song. Also, tell me stories about when you were little.
2. Give me hugs and kisses and sit and talk to me privately.
3. Spend quality time with just me, without my brothers and sisters around.
4. Give me nutritious food so that I can grow up healthy.
5. At dinner, talk about what we could do together over the weekend.
6. At night, talk to me about anything – love, school, family etc.
7. Let me play outside… a lot.
8. Cuddle under a blanket and watch our favourite television shows together.
9. Discipline me. It makes me feel like you care.
10. Leave special messages in my desk or lunch bag. Now, this is by no means an empirical study… but it certainly makes emotional sense to us. We adults tend to view life through the glasses that society has taught us to wear, while children can be profoundly insightful simply because they see things as they really are.
What we can learn from this is that Jesse Jackson was perfectly right when he said: “Your children need your presence more than your presents”.
We live in a society in which, for the most part, time is more scarce than money – so this kind of lifestyle may sound like a tall order to many parents. However, when we know better… we do better and each and every parent can choose to get better at making time to give these simple gifts of love: Attention, Loving Actions and Words, Healthy Food, Playtime, and Discipline – isn’t that great news?
*We think it’s striking how well the children’s top 10 list aligns with Sue Palmar’s article in the Daily Mail titled “Why are children today so unhappy?” Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-468866/Why-children-today-unhappy.html