I am forever debating in my head if I’m giving enough attention to my child.
Being a SAHM I am around my child most of the time in the morning preparing her for school, dropping her at the bus stop, picking her up in the afternoon, helping her with homework and also putting her to sleep. Not to forget the time spent trying to keep her fed and playing with her.
In terms of invested time and energy, I’m investing 65% of what I have on weekdays and perhaps 80% on weekends. But, still, there are occasions when Pari complains “Mumma you aren’t paying attention to me.”
The first time she told me this, my eyes popped out & my jaw dropped in disbelief. In my head, I muttered, “What on earth does paying attention means for a 4-year-old?”
Initially, I dismissed it as a one-off thing on my child’s part and soon forgot about it. But hardly a day or two had passed when Pari said the same thing again.
This time, I chose to stop whatever I was doing and get to listen to her point of view.
After beating about the bush when Pari finally got to the point, these were her words, “Mumma I’m not saying you don’t do enough for me, but when you are with me, you aren’t paying attention to me.”
“You are busy staring on your computer screen, rushing me around in the time you’ve got free but you are not really listening to what I have to say or seeing what I’ve to show.”
“Love is more than just a feeling: it’s a process requiring continual attention.” ~Molleen Matsumura
I promised Pari to think about it and change my ways and couldn’t help but probe myself deeper to see why Pari had been feeling so.
I ran the events of the day and also the past few days in my head and this was what I found. I work from home and that makes my working hours rather erratic. I don’t have a defined schedule hence while I am spending time with my child, in my mind, I am busy drafting articles and checking my iPad at every beep.
This behaviour isn’t going unnoticed by my child. When I’m in the middle of an article and Pari approaches me for something, I do respond but mostly with my one eye or my mind still glued to the computer screen.
There is so much talk about quality time and quantity time spent with children.
In my case, I believe I’m investing a lot of time in my child, but the reality isn’t exactly so in Pari’s eyes.
There was a dearth of positive attention.
What is positive attention?
Positive attention is how we express our joy and warmth in our relationship with our children, through simple loving gestures.
Simply smiling lovingly, touching caringly, showing interest in our child’s interests, activities and achievements and so on.
Why is positive attention SO important?
Like each one of us, our little people look out for signs that show them they are valued, capable, wonderful beings that bring joy to others by what they do and who they are.
And we caregivers of the children in our families are the key persons whom our children look up to for determining their value, nurturing their self-confidence and most importantly help build their self-image over time.
It took me a long time to realise that,
The behaviour(s) that I most promptly reacted to with my most focused attention, were the ones my little one repeated most often.
THIS was why, if I stopped, put everything I was doing down to check my child’s screaming or drumming, she was sure to repeat it whenever she wanted my undivided attention.
Armed with this understanding, I knew I had a lot of work to do. And I did just that.
One day I chose to sit with Pari while we chit-chat about how our day has been to get her views on what kind of attention she craves for.
After a few days, when I had won over her confidence that ‘Mom was truly interested in knowing what she craved for’ things began to change dramatically from then on.
I still have the same 24 hours in my day.
I still work the same as before.
The only difference is that,
I have realigned my priorities and execution plan.
The times Pari said she’s happy managing on her own, I let her be.
I trust her to do her thing, her way, like eating snacks the way she enjoys. Not probing, spoon-feeding her. Surprisingly, it has made room for a lot of time I was wasting earlier and giving me breaks to relax or do a thing of my own.
But the times when she really likes for me to be around her, I turn off my computer, not respond to notifications on my gadgets and be exclusive to her.
Needless to say, Pari is liking our times together but the truth is, I’m loving the attention she has started giving me cause I’ve started showing her that I care for her needs.
As parents, it’s not enough to be there, hands idle and ears tuned in for all our children have to say.
Paying attention means more than being physically present.
It means learning how to listen to our kids, how to talk to them, and how to respond to their actions.
And it doesn’t mean we parents can’t have a busy life of our own, especially work life.
It all boils down to being attentive to our children’s needs (both physical & emotional) so that when things go wrong, we are aware of all the parameters that could be causing the distress.
Good, quality attention will improve the quality of our family’s life.
Besides, there is always time for quality.
“Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.”
~ Janet Fitch
Are you paying enough attention to your child?
* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge. My theme is Parenting.
Please find my other parenting posts here.