From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Remember family: How time slips away

 Parents and grandparents today are faced with the daunting task of reassuring children of stability in a fast moving world. We live in a time when everybody is rushing. Children are rushing to grow up. People are rushing at work, at home, and through their lives. While itís hard to criticize folks for working hard, the results are easy to see. Our stress levels are through the roof. We pretend that we are offering our loved ones quality, if not quantity time, but the truth is we often sacrifice having meaningful relationships in order to get things done.

        ďThe best thing you can give your child is your time.Ē Twenty five years ago, I saw these wonderful words painted on a plate in a gift shop in Tampa, Florida. While I wish I would have purchased the plate, I am grateful that I remembered the words, as its message has stayed with me. Like my missed opportunity to buy the plate, I have learned that as a parent, you canít always go back to retrieve lost moments with your children. Our kidsí games, award ceremonies, school plays and other significant times in their lives become part of their memories. As parents, we are either a part of those memories or not. Never doubt how much you matter to your child. You and your presence are extremely important in their lives.

        Itís easy to become addicted to staying busy. Thereís something that is very gratifying about being busy. We gain a sense of accomplishment, we try our best, we demonstrate our commitment, and we strengthen our value in the workplace as we devote and donate our time. The problem lies in lack of balance. If we donít take time to be involved with our spouses and families, our commitment to them lessens. Parent-child bonding and husband-wife bonding require time spent together doing things together. This is the only way to develop a shared history and common memories. Stories are our legacies. How do you want to be remembered?

        Time Management: Re-evaluating how you spend your time. If the purpose of organizing our time is to increase productivity, that should leave more time for family life. But gone are the days of 8-hour shifts, 40 hour weeks, and the notion of a closing time. For too many of us, our work schedules demand more than one-third of our time. Long term, family life moves to the back burner; and when spouses work on different shifts, marriage also moves to the back burner. In worse-case-scenarios, office families take priority over home families and resentment takes over. Children can adapt to missing their parents but this certainly leaves a lasting impression. Some children view work as a bad thing because it robs them of time with their parents and makes them feel unimportant. Some spouses view work as a bad thing because it robs them of time with their mate and the experience of shared parenthood.

        Imagine your relationship with your children in the future. Take a moment to daydream. In the future, it will be time for your children to take care of you. At some point, you and your spouse will once again be relating to each other one-on-one. When these developmental changes occur, your relationships will either be satisfying and welcomed, or they will be viewed with dread. Ideally, you and your child will have developed interpersonal respect for one another and you and your spouse will develop new found passion, companionship, romance, relaxation and fun. All of this depends on maintaining these relationships throughout your life.

It meant a lot to me that my father arrived home each night at 5pm like clockwork. My brother and I knew that being a family was important to him. But we also knew that according to my Dad,  the most important person in the world was my mother. It is hard to describe the sense of security we derived when we were reminded that we would never be allowed to come between my parents. We gained a sense of security as my Father reminded us that someday my brother and I would be leaving home but that they would always be together. From childhood forward, not only were my brother and I growing, but also, my parents were constantly growing in their interests, activities, and love for each other.  As I look back today, their prophecy came true. Both my brother and I left home for college at age 18, never to return home as full-time residents.

Today we have our own families. And fortunately, my parents are still deeply in love with each other. Their love for each other still gives me a very deep feeling of security and I am grateful that my children see this love between their grandparents. As I face the daunting task of reassuring my children in a world which is uncertain, Iím certain that experiencing healthy relationships all around them will communicate more than I could ever express in words. We must remember that our children gain their sense of security first from their families. If they are armed with our encouragement, they will have the necessary courage to face rest of the world.

©Copyright, 2006, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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