Most of us would agree there are many theories on the best way to educate our children. There’s public schools, private schools, charter schools, home schools, co-ops, and any combination of these! Regardless of which paradigm you have for the best way to educate your kids, you most likely have an important underlying goal in your parenting: to connect well with your children and pass on your faith and values. So whether you’re spending all day teaching your kids or greeting them as you all return from work or school, if you want kids to stay connected to you, your faith and your values, you must be present.
By “present” we don’t just mean physically present. You will be there no doubt, teaching lessons, organizing schedules, giving rides, arranging play dates or negotiating use of the car. Presence is more than sharing air. The essence of it is sharing hearts – through full engagement with your child. When a parent is truly present with their child, that child knows she is respected, valued, and heard.
One mom told us of this insight from her son about presence. “Mom, we can tell you’re not listening when you just say, ‘That’s nice.’”
The flip side of that, and what the little guy couldn’t articulate, is – “When you stop and look at us and get excited with us, that’s when we know you’re listening!”
So in the transition to new routines that can carry any number of new challenges and pressures, remember to be present.
Here are some practical ideas to be fully present with your children:
- Put down what you are doing, and really listen to your child! (Like you would want a spouse or friend to listen to you!)
- Send them off to school with a prayer or blessing and a hug
- Talk about something that totally interests your child
- Simply watch them for a bit, and marvel at their uniqueness
- Develop a connecting habit as they come in from the bus – power hugs, fist bump routine, make a smoothie together, wrestle, play catch or dolls… you get the idea.
- If you homeschool, adapt to fit their unique interests: take time to go to the zoo, chase frogs, or even do your work in a big fort tent with them.
- Enjoy your kids!