PARENTS: A Child Spells Love, T-I-M-E!
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Father/Son Fishing Story
I’d like to start with a fishing story of a father and a son and how they viewed their time together very differently:
In the faint light of the attic, an old man, tall and stooped, bent his great frame and made his way to a stack of boxes that sat near one of the little half-windows. Brushing aside a wisp of cobwebs, he tilted the top box toward the light and began to carefully lift out one old photograph album after another. Eyes once bright but now dim searched longingly for the source that had drawn him here.
It began with the fond recollection of the love of his life, long gone, and somewhere in these albums was a photo of her he hoped to rediscover. Silent as a mouse, he patiently opened the long buried treasures and soon was lost in a sea of memories. Although his world had not stopped spinning when his wife left it, the past was more alive in his heart than his present aloneness.
Setting aside one of the dusty albums, he pulled from the box what appeared to be a journal from his grown son's childhood. He could not recall ever having seen it before, or that his son had ever kept a journal. Why did Elizabeth always save the children's old junk? he wondered, shaking his white head.
Opening the yellowed pages, he glanced over a short reading, and his lips curved in an unconscious smile. Even his eyes brightened as he read the words that spoke clear and sweet to his soul. It was the voice of the little boy who had grown up far too fast in this very house, and whose voice had grown fainter and fainter over the years. In the utter silence of the attic, the words of a guileless six-year-old worked their magic and carried the old man back to a time almost totally forgotten.
Entry after entry stirred a sentimental hunger in his heart like the longing a gardener feels in the winter for the fragrance of spring flowers. But it was accompanied by the painful memory that his son's simple recollections of those days were far different from his own. But how different?
Reminded that he had kept a daily journal of his business activities over the years, he closed his son's journal and turned to leave, having forgotten the cherished photo that originally triggered his search. Hunched over to keep from bumping his head on the rafters, the old man stepped to the wooden stairway and made his descent, then headed down a carpeted stairway that led to the den.
Opening a glass cabinet door, he reached in and pulled out an old business journal. Turning, he sat down at his desk and placed the two journals beside each other. His was leather-bound and engraved neatly with his name in gold, while his son's was tattered and the name "Jimmy" had been nearly scuffed from its surface. He ran a long skinny finger over the letters, as though he could restore what had been worn way with time and use.
As he opened his journal, the old man's eyes fell upon an inscription that stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words:
‘Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing.'
With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy's journal and found the boy's entry for the same day, June 4. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read:
‘Went fishing with my dad. Best day of my life.’
Children Spell Love - T.I.M.E
As you can see from this story, children spell ‘Love’ - T.I.M.E! In this fast paced WORLD that we live in, we as parents, need to be intentional about taking time to spend with our children. When we do, our children feel loved, they feel safe and they feel secure. It lets them know that we care about them and it is proven to be a benefit to their self-esteem, growth, well-being and development. The time that we spend with our children may seem like a waste of time or maybe even insignificant but God can use that time to bless them and us.
9 Tips for Busy Families
In her article, “Tips for Spending Quality Time with Your Child”, Jessica Alvarado says that as parents, we need to make choices to ensure time spent with our children is high-quality. She has 9 tips for busy families:
1. Have a daily “connect” time with your child. Do this face-to-face, if possible; but if this isn’t
an option, create a routine for doing so in other ways, such as leaving a note in your
child’s lunch bag, posting a note by his toothbrush, or writing an encouraging quote on a
shared whiteboard in the house.
2. Create a special ritual for you and your child—something
that can be done every day. For example, let your child
choose and read one book with you at bedtime.
3. Tell your child you love them every day. And tell them how
important they are to you and how they make you feel.
4. Reinforce positive behavior. For example, if your child
completes their chores without you asking, acknowledge it
with words of appreciation—even if you don’t have the
chance do so until the next day.
5. Make and eat meals with your children whenever possible.
If time is limited, look for simple meals that require very little
preparation, or grab a healthy snack such as an apple and sit
for a few minutes and chat with your child.
6. Schedule time for doing an activity of your child’s
choosing. Be sure to follow through and complete the activity
without any distractions.
7. Play with your child, even if it’s during bath time or outside
before you drop her off at preschool. Every little bit of time
makes a positive impact!
8. Laugh and be silly with your child.
9. Turn off technology when you spend time with your child. Try
not to text, answer calls, scroll through social media, or watch
'Quality' not 'Quantity'
Alvarado says that meaningful connections are about ‘quality of time’, not ‘quantity of time’. She says to keep it simple and connect with your child in ways that make sense for your lifestyle and relationship. Each connection has a lasting impact and provides the support and reassurance that your child needs.
Here are some examples of ways that I tried to connect with my 3 daughters while they were growing up.
Connecting with My Daughters
*We had a special 'Secret Badge Hand Shake'. I remember my mom had a special hand shake with me and my siblings growing up. So, I made one up for my girls.
*We had a 'Secret Hand Squeeze'. When I would squeeze their hands 4 times, it was a secret message for 4 words that meant “Do You Love Me”. They were to squeeze 3 times that meant “Yes I do”. Then I’d squeeze 2 times which meant “How much?” They would respond back with 1 “Big squeeze” which meant a lot. They usually would grab with 2 hands and squeeze as hard as they could. Then we would reverse roles. They would squeeze my hand 4 times and so on.
*The girls loved 'Playing Spook' in the basement. I made this game up. I would put a big blanket over them and would give them a flashlight. They would sit on the edges of the blanket and I would turn out the lights. I would quietly work my way around the blanket and slowly try to find a crevice to sneak my had through and grab their leg. If they felt my hand coming through, they would plug the crevice so I had to sneak and find another path. They absolutely loved it.
*When the girls were really little, I’d get on the floor and would stack cups, blocks, any toy that they had. I’d stack them up and they loved knocking them down. I’d stack them back up and they would knock them down. I know it seems like a waste of time, but anytime that you spend with your child builds love, safety and security into their lives.
*At bedtime, I’d read them a book and the say our 'Bedtime Prayers' before turning out the light. Right before bed is a great time to get your kids to open up to you about their day. This is especially important the older they get. Eventually, they won’t need you to read or say their prayers so take advantage of this time as long as you can.
*I loved having them sit on my lap and read to Them. I’d find a series that they enjoyed reading and look forward to that time of snuggling up in a chair and being physically close to each other and enjoying a book together. My middle daughter enjoyed ‘The Cooper Kid Series’ by Frank Peretti. My other daughters loved the ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis. We’d read ‘The Box Car Children’ by Gertrude Chandler Warner and other classic children literature.
Research on Reading
Research shows that regular reading with your child can provide a number of benefits such as. . .
*improved brain connectivity.
*increased vocabulary and comprehension.
*empowering them to empathize with other people.
*aiding in sleep readiness.
*lower blood pressure and heart rate.
*preventing cognitive decline as you age.
*We owned a pool and we would have Midnight Swims with our girls and their friends. They really weren’t at midnight but usually at dusk. The water and activity had a relaxing affect before sending the girls to bed.
*Families eating meals together provides an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthening ties and building better family relationships. They build a sense of belonging which leads to a stronger self-esteem.
*A number of other things we tried to do as a family to build relationships were bon fires, Easter egg hunts, camping excursions, Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions and much more.
Keep It Simple
Remember to keep things simple, be consistent and try to connect with your child in ways that make sense for you and your family.
May God bless you as you show LOVE to your child through the quality TIME that you spend together.