In the hustle-and-bustle of the day, shaving time has been critical toward greater work productivity. Manufacturing plants push to reduce their cycle time for producing parts. Call centers push to resolve a customer’s inquiry in the fewest minutes possible. Technology companies push to create the newest craze. New hires are expected to learn their jobs in days instead of months. Athletes are expected to run faster with every game or meet. Parents are expected to cuddle with and read to their children as fast as they can. Wait a minute! That last expectation doesn’t seem right. Parents are expected to do what? That is right! Many parents are expected to minimize bonding time with their children in order to meet the demands of the day. We are slavishly saying “YES” to more time with our to-do list and “NO” to our children.
Now there are some of you who will disagree with the assertion about parents are enslaved to their list and must shave time with their children. But do our actions as parents say otherwise? When was the last time we sat with our children and just BE with them, and let the relationship of the moment determine when boding time should finish? (The practice of presence some call it.) Unhurried, unrushed, just purely immersed with each other. How absurd to think that as parents we actively work to reduce the bonding or face-to-face time with our children to satisfy the demands of a piece of paper. The truth is – we do inadvertently.
Many of us believe multi-tasking can overcome everything. However, our children know when our minds are off them and on something else. They know when you are touching, caressing and guarding the smooth and delicate face of a touch screen, masquerading as the new born of the family. Children know when you are out to lunch and the elevator is still on the ground floor figuratively speaking. My son is great at detecting when Daddy is focusing on reading or writing (but not on this article) instead on him. Although my son is in my presence, he knows it is not genuine time but rushed. I am not truly focusing on him to know him at an emotional level. It reminds me that multi-tasking works well with activity but not well in bonding with people especially our children.
You may reply that doesn’t apply to me, because I take my children to karate, soccer, music, dance etc. We spend a lot of time together in the car and at the dance studio, gymnasium, basketball court, baseball diamond, football field or all the above. I agree that bonding indeed can take place during those car rides or celebrating a 1st place victory. However, let us not confuse this time as truly deep, bonding time with our children. How can it be when we are screaming at them from the bleachers? Or our backs are literally turn to them majority of time while driving? Imagine dating someone who would only want to spend time with you while you are in the backseat as s/he is driving. How long would that relationship last? Not too long I hope. Yet – we expect to build an intimate relationship with our children while performing a shuttle service for them. Sorry! That is not time that digs deep into the hearts of our children.
Our children do not understand the words “I love you” when you are not actively spending time with them. Actually, children hear the word “time” louder than the words “I love you”. Time for children is then instinctively translated into the feelings of “I love you”. Shaving time with our children makes the translation for them tougher to the point of confusion. The more time we shave, the more they translate no-time to “I’m not important”; “I’m not special”; or “I’m not loved”. I know many of us don’t purposely go out making our children feel bad about their selves. Yet it does not change the fact that time is more a native tongue to them than their mother tongue at home.
If you are discovering that your children are repeatedly acting out, check to see how much time you are shaving off with them. (The issue of bullying could stem from an absent of emotional time with our children. The bully is looking to control someone at school or online, because they cannot control their parents to listen to them at home.) Remember, children experience time much longer than we do. Time moves a WHOLE lot slower. When we miss them for a day, it feels like a few days to them. This is why you go on a road trip with them they always ask you, at ad nauseam, “are we there yet.” It is also tells you why timeouts are so painful for them. Using those examples as negative object lessons should motivate us as parents to speak our children’s native language by giving them the time they need. This is the only way we can truly say we love them and create maximum productivity.
Is creating more time easy within our already compressed schedules? It is certainly not easy! I struggle as a parent like you to read that bedtime story without tucking myself to bed under my child’s arm as she finishes read her story to me. However, I push to create time nevertheless and maximize it.
~ Denley W. McIntosh
P.S. My first test will be finding that gift of time this evening for my son’s birthday (June 26) as he turns 2 years old. To use Dr. Gary Chapman’s terminology from the 5 Love Languages, his love language is time that is all he hears.