Are we really available to our children? Do we make time for them and their passions in our busy schedules? Are we really present when we’re with them, or are we also elsewhere?
A few months back I sat in a coffee shop with my family and glanced over at four teenage boys sat together enjoying a coffee. Four friends enjoying time together, or so you’d have thought. Actually three of them sat on their phones engrossed with what they were reading and one sat there watching the others and looking around. This went on the whole 20 minutes I sat in the coffee shop.
Isn’t it interesting today that we can be with people, with friends or family, be present and yet not at the same time. We’re there with the potential to share, to enjoy each others company, able to influence each other and yet we can be more interested in what friends are saying or doing elsewhere. Missing out on the present! Losing that moment.
There’s no doubt about it we live in a society where people are encouraged to be available to everyone all the time. With phones that most people carry around with them even when at home, social media pages that encourage you to scroll through multiple times a day, because to be perfectly honest if you don’t you can genuinely miss out on information. We even receive messages that can allow people to see if you’ve read them or not. But isn’t this dangerous? Isn’t the temptation that we give more time to our friends and family elsewhere than those we are actually present with?
Have you ever heard about love languages? Gary D. Chapman wrote a book all about these love languages, different ways that we all express and receive love, ways we feel loved: time, touch, acts of service, gifts and words of affirmation. If you haven’t heard of them I’d encourage you to find out more. It’s a really helpful way of understanding the best ways to love our partners and our children.
My primary love language is time. In my mind, if you love me you’ll make time for me. It’s the same with my son. In fact I would imagine this is a primary one for most young children. He feels loved when I give him quality time.
My boy’s most common phrase at the moment is ‘Mummy come play with me’. He loves to play, and he loves to play with Mummy or Daddy. Isn’t it so easy though to be with our children, but somehow not with them. To be focused elsewhere. To sit with them with the best intentions of playing, but to feel the need to have to respond to those text messages that have just come through. To be planning what we will do for the rest of the week. To be reading up on what friends are doing.
I’m not saying these things are wrong, but I think we need to make sure that at certain points of the day, we are solely available to our children. No distractions, no other temptations because the reality is when we give them time, when we’re really present with them alone, we’re telling them we love them.
And just like those boys in the coffee shop, they missed out on a moment with their friends that they may never get back. They missed the opportunity to share with each other. Lets be present with our children, really present, because we don’t want to miss those precious moments that we may never get back.