Author: Kim Ashbaugh
I once asked my eldest, who had recently graduated from high school, what her favorite childhood memory was. She could not recall any particular memory, but said “when you and Daddy played with me.”
Oh, the importance of individual time! It cannot be neglected in parenting, though many daily tasks try to take the forefront. Just as we need to spend one-on-one time with God and with our spouse,
we need to spend one-on-one time with each child, to develop that oh-so-important relationship.
When I was little, both my parents spent individual time with me. I still love to inhale when I walk into the Home Depot, because the smell of freshly-cut lumber brings back memories of my Dad taking me along on a trip to the lumber yard as he did business there. My Mom cared for our home while spending time with me. We simply did the tasks she had to do anyway…. together. Even when my baby sister came along, my mom did not neglect to spend time with me in all the hours of caring for her. She simply showed me how to do everything with my doll that she was doing with my sister. We bathed our babies, fed our babies, changed our babies. I’m sure I got tired of it after awhile and wandered away, but my Mom was always there for me.
As our children get older, and there are more of them, individual time becomes more of a challenge. Sometimes we need to get out of the house. It does not have to be expensive… a cup of coffee, an ice cream cone, a walk in the park. One of my children loves for me to come to her room at bedtime, stay, and talk. It’s late… but I do it anyway. She will be on her own before I know it, and I will miss these times.
You do not have to have elaborate plans or say anything profound during individual times with each child. It’s more about showing them they matter,that you are carving out time for them, so when they have profound questions of their own, your relationship is already solid and they will come to you.
Try to keep the individual time just for that one child, especially as they get older. I once made the mistake of texting with my eldest, away at college, during a shopping trip with my youngest. The youngest felt I could not focus on just her even for a couple hours. So I put the phone in my pocket and focused on that highly important individual who was right in front of me. I know in years to come, I’ll be glad I did.
Next Week’s Author: Susan Arico