Life can quickly become a fast-paced and over stimulating routine of day to day activities, responsibilities and commitments for most families. As soon as the covers come off and feet hit the floor it seems that it is all go, go go. Some people spend hours on end in the car driving here and there trying to get the kids to all their extra curricular and school activities fitting in errands and shopping along the way. The radio is usually blaring while mom is on her cell phone making appointments and catching up with friends while a portable DVD player spins favorite movies in the back seat. Anything to pass the time and avoid a fuss or conversation along the way. Husbands and wives spend more time apart than ever before and it is rare that a family gathers at the kitchen table to eat a meal together. It is time to ask yourself- are you really enjoying your children?
Initially the thought of a family brings upon visions of the little white house surrounded by the picket fence with flowers growing in a window box. Parents imagine a life that is full of a child’s laughter and delight. Many can’t wait for their new baby to begin to walk and interact more with them. You look forward to school and softball games, your child’s first friend and endless hours sitting on the bed together watching movies while chatting about life together. The relationship between parent and child that lives in fantasy is rarely seen to fruition. The problem is that while children are young they desperately want to cling to their family life and be surrounded by the people who love them the most. Then parents react to pressure or expectations and begin to push them out the door as quickly as they came in. Children are starting school earlier and there are now t-ball and flag football teams organized for the illusive 4 years olds.
All this hustle and bustle makes for whiny, tired and over scheduled children who quite clearly get on their parents nerves. They are seen as rude, spoiled, privileged, and unappreciative young people. Parents shake their heads in amazement wondering how in the world their child can be so whiny spending a crazy week in Disney World or when it is quite clear that the entire family routine revolves around what the children want. Inadvertently parents guilt their children into believing that all is being done in their best interest and with their needs in mind yet it seems that no one is all that happy much of the time. Parents are over worked with over stretched budgets and children are now expected to work an 8 hour day whether at school or day care and then come home to do more. Often even the weekends are not safe from the punctuated stress of having way too much on the plate of life. The sad part is that with all this stuff going on many families have forgotten he simple ways to be together and to be happy. The picket white fence needs some major painting and the perfect family home sits empty more than it is filled. This is not the way life is supposed to be.
Rewind back about 40 years or so when families seemed to look from within for everything they needed. There were fewer distractions to keep people separate and autonomy was not looked at as a necessary tool to growing up. Parents lurked around every neighborhood corner ready to stand guard and watch the children. They spent time talking to their kids and had more limitations and discipline that allowed the children to feel safe. Laughter came from telling jokes and stories rather than from the newest sitcom. Time was spent working together and extra curricular activities were saved for weekend days when families could spend time together. Perhaps, we have lost the innate desire to really spend our time enjoying our children. All parents know that they grow up fast and soon approaching is the day when they will leave the home. The question is – are we giving our children anything worth coming back for?
Can we easily talk to our children about everything from sex to friends? Do your children seem happy in your presence or are they always pouting and downtrodden? Do you really know how difficult it is to keep up with the demands of your child’s day, whether they are in day care or grades school? Are you absolutely sure that what they are doing are all things that they enjoy and want to do or is it more about trying to fix some hang up in your own childhood? If you asked the kids would they have the freedom to answer you honestly? Probably the most important question is whether or not you have begun to dread waking up in the morning to endure another day in the rat race that is your life?
Enjoying your children is about getting to know them inside and out. It is about hearing them laugh and helping them to find a soft place in life that they can turn to in order to escape the demands and pressures they face. Enjoying your children is watching them sleep and realizing that they actually want the hug and kiss on the forehead that they are receiving. Deep down all children want their parents to be proud and they want to know from the deepest level of their being that they make their folks happy. Really happy! Children need to enjoy their parents and not just hear laughter but realize that they are a larger part of the reason that their parents laugh. Children want to feel important, necessary and happy and they need to know that all they need can be found within the circle of their very own family. Time together should be non-stressful and it should be one of the things that modern families schedule in to their to-do lists every day. Missing any opportunity to truly enjoy one another is missing out on one of the greatest joys in life.
Although they may seem to want lots of stuff to fill up their life; children are often satisfied with little. They understand better than adults that there are few things that can be bought which replace time spent together. After a long time of giving in to the draining schedules and commitments of life it can be hard to transition back to quiet and peace. It can be difficult to find the first words that open dialogue between parent and child and it can realty hard to gain back the trust of your children. All this time, they perceived you as demanding, uncaring, uninvolved and completely hung u on all the ‘supposed to’s’ and ‘have to’s’ in life avoiding the ‘want to’s’ that entail spending quality time together. Enjoying your children is about just being together without a single demand or pressing thing that must take you away from one another. Sometimes being together is quiet without words while other times it is sitting together making memories and creating the safe foundation all people need to live a solid life.