Are You Present With Your Children?
Margaret Paul, Ph.D
How often are you fully and completely present when you are with your children?
One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to be fully present
with them. This can often be a big challenge.
When my three children were growing up, I worked full time as a counselor, wrote
books, traveled on book tours, and pursued my passion as an artist - in addition
to spending time with my husband. The only way I could be fully present when I
was with my children was to set aside "time alone" with them. "Time alone" was
daily quality time I spent with each of my children, doing whatever they wanted
to do. During this time I did not answer the phone or deal with the many issues
of running a household. It was time set aside to be fully present with them, not
even thinking about other things.
The message you give to your children when you don't spend quality time being
fully present is that they are not important. When answering the phone, or getting
things done, or thinking about what you have to do tomorrow is more important than
being present with your children, they get the message that being with them and
really knowing them is not very important to you.
When I was growing up, my mother was always busy. She never had the time to just
be with me. She never wanted to know about my thoughts and feelings, or about how
things were going at school. She never had the time to play with me or just hang
out with me. While she said that she loved me and that I was important to her, I
never felt it. Words don't cut it when the actions don't follow.
If it is not important to you to just be with your children - talking with them,
playing with them, taking a walk, holding them, listening to them, sharing love with
them, gazing at them with love - then they will likely not feel loved by you. No
matter how many things you buy them, or how often you tell them you love them, if
they are not important enough to you to REALLY be with them, then it is likely they
will not feel loved and cherished by you.
Your children need your focused attention, and when they don't get it, they may
pull for it in various ways. They may chatter on and on, trying to keep your
attention. They may act out by fighting with each other, or by not listening to
you or going into resistance regarding chores, homework, hygiene, bedtime, and
so on. For many children, even negative attention feels better than no attention.
This may create a very negative vicious circle, in that the more they act out, the
less you feeling like being with them, but the less you are with them in a loving
and attentive way, the more they may act out.
Think about how you feel when someone gives you his or her full attention. Doesn't
it feel wonderful? How often does someone look you in the eyes and give you his or
her full attention? How often do you feel really listened to and heard by someone?
Unfortunately, many people are so intent on being listened to and heard that they
don't listen and hear.
The simple act of being fully present with your children will do more for them than
you can imagine. I have many clients who were deeply impacted by a friend or relative
who really listened to them - even if it only occurred occasionally.
You have an opportunity to give your children a great gift - being fully present with
them with your love, compassion, empathy, interest, sense of humor, playfulness, and
affection. You have the opportunity each day, even if it is just for half an hour, to
fully cherish them.
They grow up so fast. Don't miss this opportunity each day.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books,
including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" and
"Healing Your Aloneness." She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner
Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her
web site for a FREE
Inner Bonding course or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone Sessions Available.