The Family Peace Foundation maintains one of the most effective ways for adults to strengthen families is to spend at least 8 minutes a day of warm, loving, focused attention with each child. Yet research from the UK suggests that this is becoming a real struggle for many families.
A UK poll of 2,000 children conducted in July 2013 for Virgin Holidays and Universal Orlando Resort found that the top 10 reasons parents gave for not spending time with their children were:
- Myself or my partner work long hours
- We spend our evenings/weekend keeping up with household chores
- The children are at school when I’m not working
- The children are often watching TV
- Myself or my partner work anti-social hours
- The children are often playing computer games
- The children are at an age where they don’t really want to spend time with us
- The children are often out with friends
- The children spend their evenings studying
- We spend a lot of time at various sports/after school clubs separately
The bottom line is that families are busier than ever. Parents are working, children are at school and evenings and weekends are taken up with a host of clubs, sports and play dates with friends.
All of this means that many families struggle with spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. Interestingly, grandparents fared even worse. They seem to be a long way down the list of priorities when it comes to squeezing in visits during busy weekends. Instead of enjoying their grandchildren growing up, many have to make do with quick visits on special occasions or snatched moments in between weekend activities.
Too often, the speed of modern life can mean, opportunities for multiple generations of families to spend quality time together is the exception, rather than the rule.
So, how can we make the most of the scarce time we have?
It’s all about quality time. Put down your devices, look your children in the eyes, ask them questions about their day at school, friends and any hobby they are engaged in.
Focus on their content and then paraphrase back to them what they have said to you, so that they know you have heard and understood. If there is good news, take an opportunity to reinforce your feelings of love and admiration.
Something like, “It sounds like you are really pleased with the results of your latest science experiment, I’m so proud of you.”
Doing this on a regular basis builds a strong sense of attachment and self-worth, which will come in very handy when the storm clouds of adolescence roll in.