January 21, 2018

How do you spell love to a child? T – I – M – E !

By Kelly Kendall

It has been said that people won’t remember what you tell them, however, they will remember how you made them feel. When we spend time with our children, they feel important and it creates memories. Some crave more time than others, according to the Five Love Languages survey. ‘Quality Time’ is one of the languages, according to Gary Chapman, and, interestingly, it is the one that shows up for many people, no matter the circumstances, but especially in those who live apart from their children.

The song by Cat Stevens, entitled, “The Cat in the Cradle” describes a father and a son who simply don’t give each other their time and the pain it causes for each at different stages of life. According to a study led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, “A father’s resources, relationships, and parenting beliefs affect how he spends time with his children and financially provides for his family.”

An article written in 1996 by Paul Roberts and Bill Moseley entitled, “Understanding the challenges of fatherhood” shares the following idea with regard to fatherhood:

This was supposed to be the Golden Era of Paternity. After decades of domestic aloofness, men came charging into parenthood with an almost religious enthusiasm. We attended Lamaze classes and crowded into birthing rooms. We mastered diapering, spent more time at home with the kids, and wallowed in the flood of “papa” literature.Yet for all of our fervor, the paternal revolution has had a slightly hollow ring. It’s not simply the relentless accounts of fatherhood’s dark side–the abuse, the neglect, the abandonment–that make us so self-conscious. Rather, it’s the fact that for all our earnest sensitivity, we can’t escape questions of our psychological necessity. What is it, precisely, that fathers do? What critical difference do we make in the lives of our children?

Some key findings about fathers from the Pew Research Center indicate that balancing work and family is a real challenge for fathers—for many reasons, including financial pressures, which require long hours or even part-time work in addition to their full time job just to pay the monthly bills. “About half of working dads (52%) say it is very or somewhat difficult to do so, a slightly smaller share than the 60% of working mothers who say the same. And about three-in-ten working dads (29%) say they ‘always feel rushed,’ as do 37% of working mothers. Working fathers are also about as likely as working mothers to say that they would prefer to be home with their children, but that they need to work because they need the income (48% of dads vs. 52% of moms).”

A study by Urban Institute scholars found that “fathers who lived with their children tended to spend more time with them: helping them with homework, taking them to the extracurricular activities, offering emotional support, etc.” In this study, their assumption was that positive fathering is related to child well-being. Their key finding, however, was that this pattern held true for both low-income and high-income residential fathers, flying in the face of the ‘deadbeat dad’ narrative. Regardless of income level, some parenting behaviors varied by whether fathers lived with their children. Residential fathers, regardless of income, spend considerably more time with their children than nonresidential fathers, with the gap only widening as the children continue to age. Residential fathers were also more responsible and warm than nonresidential fathers, measured in how likely they were to take their child to a doctor’s appointment, put them to bed, praise them, and show them physical affection. Overall, this particular study found that fathers who live with their children tend to play a more active role in their lives—which bodes well for their child’s health and development.

Published authors Dave Klassen and Glen Hoos had some ideas on how to create quality time with your kids. These ideas can help you develop deeper relationships with your children, even in spite of a hectic schedule even on your days off. The more children we have, the harder it is to find the time to give each child the attention they need and deserve. Here are their ideas: “Ten Ways to Develop Your Relationships With Your Kids”:

  1. Road trips: I take a child on many of the daily errands I run, whether to the dump, to the bookstore, or to the grocery store.
  2. Nicknames: Each of my kids has a nickname that no one else has given, as special tokens of my affection.
  3. Dates: I have dates with each of my children. Like my wife, they deserve to have my undivided attention every once in a while.
  4. A master’s degree: I want to know everything about my kids. I’ve been trying to get a master’s degree, majoring in my family.
  5. Eat together: In our home breakfast is chaos, and by lunchtime, we are scattered to the four winds. As much as our schedules allow, we try to have dinner together as a family—to reconnect and recharge after a busy day.
  6. Pray together: Prayer is important to me. Whether it’s on the way to soccer try-outs, in the car as the ambulance passes us to go to an accident, during the evening before bed, on the way to school or at the supper table, we pray about the past, the present and future.
  7. Family trips: I believe a family that plays together, stays together. Going for walks, riding bikes, hiking, going camping, swimming, going to a museum, to parades, to the July 1st fireworks… the list is endless.
  8. Be available: Our children need to know that they are important to us. My kids have permission to call me on my cell phone or at work anytime they need to. Sometimes they’ll leave messages like, “Hey Dad, I just called to tell you I love you.”
  9. Put their activities into your schedule: My calendar is filled with my kids’ practices, games, school assemblies, and other important events that I don’t want to miss.
  10. Play their games: Each of my children has special interests, and when my time permits I play their games with them. It may involve playing goalie for NHL Shoot-out, playing Uno or checkers, watching a kids’ video, playing house or tea party or dress-up games, or watching home theatre productions.

At the end of the day, the way you spell love to a child is simply, T – I – M – E !

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