So Busy Parenting we Forget to Love and Cherish our Children
by Stephen Frueh, Ph.D.
Parenting is way of life. It demands consistent consciousness and attentiveness. There’s safety, health, learning, relationships, play – all needing our guidance and focus. We want a lot for these little people who are on the way to taking their place in the world’s scheme of things.
Our own ‘tween’ delights, confounds, amazes and enchants daily. She’s clearly becoming a force, a ‘future’ woman in whom it is not difficult to see the early outlines – the promise of beauty, intelligence and craft of her coming full maturity.
We work hard to ‘be there’ for her. We work to supply the necessary substance for school, music lessons, sports, clothes and so on. We work equally as hard at tuning into her needs. She needs a good ear available, needs inspiration for her need for continuity with her music and other projects. She needs guidance in the many challenges of peers, challenges of usage of time, challenges of fitness and health.
All this takes a lot of energy and we recently have been talking about missing ‘lap time.’ Here’s a story. I’m a marriage coach. The other day I was invited to sit with a family of four – mother, father and two early teenage girls. There was a great deal of anger and misunderstanding. Some shouting. Plenty of defensiveness. A little scolding. Everybody was scolding everybody else.
As they worked through the many challenges things calmed down. The father motioned to his daughter to come over and sit on his lap. She did. As soon as that happened the other daughter was invited by the mother to sit on her lap. Soon we were all full of tears of gratitude.
It wasn’t hard to see that a good part of the tension, the anger and frustration, was related to a longing for closeness. Their upper middle class lives are full of demands. It’s easy to miss the simplest need to be touched, held, seen, loved.
Cherishing our children takes as much attentiveness as seeing that their homework is done and their teeth are brushed. And, if you’re worried about peer influence taking them in the ‘wrong’ direction, focus on spending some close unfettered time (no radio, no ipod, no tv) with them. Focus on offering a lap, a hug or even a simple caress on the cheek. It works wonders for everyone in the family.
Stephen W. Frueh PhD is the author of With These Rings and From Marginal to Magnificent: How to Make your Marriage Sing (August 2009). He is coach for couples who want to realize the full possibilities of their marriage. Stephen also is a leadership coach working with business leaders and executive teams to fully realize their potential.
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