During the holidays, the main focus of my son's life is presents. He's three. He just doesn't understand the deeper meaning behind all of it, regardless of how often I try to explain it to him. Part of the blame lies with me, as well. As a parent, I see how amazing my child is, so when I'm at Toys R Us filling the cart to the brim, I tell myself he deserves all these presents. Truthfully, I know that this is just stuff. But, it got me thinking about what it is that our children truly deserve from us as parents.
I'm not talking about toys, clothes, healthy meals, or even shelter. I'm talking about the things we give to our children each and every day that doesn't cost a thing. What do they deserve from us in terms of time, attention, patience, etc.? I don't believe that we owe our children our entire existence; we still need to maintain a sense of self and spend time doing things that we enjoy or we lose who we are. An unhappy parent usually makes for an unhappy child.
In that same sense though, we do owe our children a fair amount of our precious time. Our children deserve to know that they are important enough that we are willing to drop everything - even if it's only for an hour a day - to give them our undivided attention. My child deserves to feel that he is a priority in my life, not an inconvenience. I owe him the courtesy of listening to him when he talks to me, not just brushing him away or telling him I'm too busy.
I don't want my kid to feel special in the sense that he thinks he deserves an award, a trophy, or even a high-five for everything that he does. But, I want my child to know that - on a daily basis - I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life. He deserves to know that when I make choices, I take into consideration what is best for him as well as for myself. My choices don't just affect me, and I need to remember that. I also feel that it is my job to show and encourage my child to make good choices and to think about how his own choices might affect the people around him.
My actions and my attention show him I love him and that he is important - not my wallet.