As parents, we love all of our children the same. We need and enjoy the company of one child just as much as we need the company of our other children. It’s our job to love all of our children and to make each one of them feel loved. But what do our children need from us?
Our children need to feel loved, supported, and they need the individual attention from each parent just as much as they need the shared attention. Our children NEED one-on-one time with each parent. This individual time with a parent gives each child a sense of importance. It lets each child know that they matter enough to you for you to set some time aside specifically for them. It demonstrates that we care about them as an individual and that helps to boost their self-esteem.
Individuality is important and we need to remember this. It’s so easy to group all of our children as one on a day-to-day basis with words like, “you guys” “kids” and “all of you.” While they are all our children, each one of them is an individual and when we let our children know that we understand that, that we do remember, and that we appreciate them, and love the individual that they are, our children’s self-esteem will flourish. They will develop a strong sense of being part of family and their community.
How Do I Do This?
I’ve been asked by many mothers “How do I do this?” And this is a valid question if you’ve never thought about it. First, be the one to approach your child.
For a daughter, ask her if she would like to hang out on Thursday evening and go get your nails done, watch a movie, go to dinner, anything that you’d enjoy doing together. Or simply go have a drink at Starbucks and catch up. This shouldn’t be a hammer session, where you’re trying to find out every bit of information from your daughter. But rather a time to simply connect and have a nice time together. Remind her that you’re there for her, that you notice her accomplishments or her latest struggles, let her know that you see her and notice her in the craziness of every day and that you love her.
With a son, mothers have shared with me that it’s a lot harder to bond with them, especially the older your son is. I agree to some extent. Boys and girls have different interests for the most part so this already makes finding something fun to do together more challenging. My advice here is, to try to invite them out to lunch but if they aren’t sold on this idea, try sitting next to them when they are playing a video game and ask them to teach you to play or simply ask them if you can join them. The point is to try to join in on one of your son’s existing interests versus pulling him out of his environment and into one that he’s not too happy in. But don’t worry because moving conversations can occur when you least expect them to. With some boys, sometimes your presence and just taking the time out of your schedule to sit with them is a reminder of your love and support. Of course, don’t leave these important messages to assumption. Say them out loud! I love you. I’m always here for you. Perhaps after your son is comfortable with spending this simple one-on-one time with you, you could ask him if he’d like to grab a bite to eat sometime next week. Just remember if your boy has never received this type of individual attention, he might think it’s weird. And it might be a few times before he begins to feel comfortable with you. So take it slow and enjoy the process of becoming close to him.
Younger children are so much easier to plan dates with. And giving them one-on-one time is as important for them as it is for your older children. Grab one of your little ones and have an ice cream date. Take a walk to the park, play games, or do the activities that they like to do. You can also ask them how they would like to spend the day with you.
This Time Is Your Opportunity
This one-on-one time with your children is your opportunity to demonstrate your love and support for each child as an individual so avoid talking about what she and her brother didn’t do or why he and his sister are constantly fighting. Focus on the likes, upcoming events, worries, etc. of the child you have in front of you. Each child will feel your love and appreciate the time you set aside for just them.
Don’t Give Up So Easily!
It’s important to reach out over and over again. Especially if your child is opposed to it. Don’t give up so easily. I always tell my parents, your son is 14, that means that for 14 years they have been accustomed to not receiving this type of attention, so turning that around will take some time as well. Be patient and don’t get angry or disappointed if things don’t go perfectly the first time or the second or third time. Keep trying. They are your children, what more in this life deserves more time, more love, more investment than our children? Nothing.
You Have Three Children, But You Also Have Three Individuals
One thing I hear often is “my son James is fine if we don’t hang out but my other son Julian is a different story” or “I don’t know why Nelly is having such a hard time with the move, Lucy is doing great with it.” That’s because they are completely different people. Therefore, each child will handle things differently. For me, it’s like night and day, one child from the other. Convincing some parents of this is not as easy though. I’ve seen it for myself, many parents see their children as one unit, my children, our children, the kids, and then they find it frustrating when one child is having a harder time coping with something while the other child is doing great. Your children are different. Try and remember that. They are not just collectively that one thing, your children. No, they are individuals, they are people with specific needs. You may have three children but you also have three individuals, each with their own ways, their own struggles, interests, and more. Remember this.
One-on-one attention benefits your relationship with your children and it benefits each one of your children in positive ways. Your children will be strong and confident because you have shown them that they matter. You have demonstrated to them that they have a voice and you want to hear it. To have that type of attention and recognition from a parent boosts a kids self-esteem and self-worth.
It’s a Blessing But It’s Hard!
You might already tell your three or four children that you love them on a daily basis, and that’s great! Our children love us so much and there is a brief time in our lives, when time with us is all our children really want. We need to take advantage of this time and show them how much they matter to us. The responsibility of raising a child is not easy, it’s a blessing but it’s hard! Yet, here we are, doing it, parenting, doing the best we can! Which is exactly what we need to do, give it our all while we can. These are the days that you will probably look back on the most. The days when your children were with you. And I hope you’ll smile knowing you took the time to let each one of your children know that you love them for who they are as a person. And not just for being your child.
I have a 4-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter and believe me I’m still conscious about giving my 20-year-old her individual quality time. It’s important, she’s important. Plus I love it. We reconnect, we have a good time, and it keeps us close by sharing our own special moments.
As for my son, it’s a lot easier to spend alone time with him at his age but I know he’ll reach an age where a lot of the things we do now will sound pretty boring to him. But if I’m consistent with always making individual time for him it’s more probable that we will always be able to come up with something to do together that we can enjoy.
I urge you to start this one-on-one time with each one of your children if you don’t already do it. It doesn’t have to be about spending money. A stroll to the park, going for ice cream, staying in and watching a movie or playing a game board, just as long as you take the time out to dedicate to each child and make them feel special.
I wish all of you awesome moms and dads a great time on your one-on-one dates with each one of your kids!
Thank You for Reading
(Listening to: Into My Arms- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)