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For Our Kids, Time is Love

Sometimes parents feel frustrated and think, "We've given him so much love and we do so much for him, why is he having problems?" They find their child is emotionally immature, in trouble at school, throws temper tantrums, is defiant, arrogant or under achieving.

Most parents strive to so their best for their children, expending energy and giving time, money and love. But despite their intentions, parents are often at a loss as to what to do for their child.

Parents have grand ideas and dreams for their children. They want their children to have high self-respect, self-worth, and self-esteem. In short, to be successful and happy in their lives. Parents wonder how they can do this for their children. Where can they find a magic formula for their children's happiness?

The first thing parents can do is to see life through their child's perspective. Is he feeling all the love the parents feel for him? Most parents love their child infinitely so? They'd give up their life for him if indeed it ever came to that. The question isn't whether or not parents love their children. The question is whether or not the child feels that amount of love. Parents need to stop and see if the love they are feeling is getting through to their children.

Dorothy Corkille Briggs writes in Your Child 's Self Esteem, "There's a big difference between being loved and feeling loved. It is the child's feeling about being loved or unloved that affects how he will deveolp." A child's inner knowing, "I am loved," makes all the difference in the world regarding his behavior or misbehavior. In short, towards his future as a caring, compassionate responsible human being.

Parent's need to spend time asking themselves, "does my child feel all this love that I have for him?" If they think that you don't, then parents should commit to do things differently, to ensure they will feel loved.

Briggs writes about what she calls "Genuine Encounter Moments," (GEM) as a powerful way for parents to show their love, and more importantly, for the child to feel loved. Simply put, a GEM is a focused attention between the parent and the child, with affection, love and eye contact. The parent is fully present physically, as well as emotionally and mentally. The parent is only focus on the child, not the laundry, work, or what's on the news. To the child, time equals love. This is love.

It does matter what the activity is; checkers, a guessing or board game, Barbies, peek-a-boo, or telling jokes. What matters is the emotional presence of the parent with the child, creating happy memories together. One mother cheerfully listens every day to her seven year old son tell her all about Ford and Chevrolet trucks. That's great!

How often is a genuine encounter needed? The more the better! Children never outgrow the need for a genuine encounter. Each day parents need to spend uninterrupted time with their child, the child's need to misbehave decreases. A child who misbehaves, may be letting his actions demonstrate his need for love and attention--a genuine encounter! Children need the focused attention every day, but certainly not when they are demanding it.

Many parents have experienced that just this simple (yet profound) idea of genuine encounters has greatly improved their relationship with their children. Spending time with your children need to be at the top of the daily to-do list and not postponed until tomorrow. Briggs writes, "If children feel your wholehearted presence periodically, they can tolerate times when your attention is elsewhere."

My mother (a mother of three) recently said that when we were growing up, kids could take it for granted that mom and dad loved them. But it's so much harder now in the 90's than it was in the 50's and 60's with all the changes and stresses of the times. With that in mind, parents need to consciously make the effort to ensure their children feel included, valued, and loved. Regular "Genuine Encounter Moments" could be that magic formula after all!

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