Well, from my sharing last week, you may be led to believe that my parents were more the sergeant major type. To some extent they were as they needed to “pull rank” on us sometimes for our own good. However, the reason why we did not rebel against them was because they have found ways to express their love for us. The best outward expression was to give of their time.
Both my parents would ensure that they have enough time with each of my three siblings and I, to find out what we are going through and to tell us that they love us. My mother made the big sacrifice of giving up her job once my eldest sister was born. Until now, my father still has a one-on-one date with us on each of our birthdays. He also makes sure he can pick us from school during his off-day. They both acknowledge their individual responsibility to invest their time in our relationship.
Communicate With Your Spouse
Having said that, with the schedules that people have these days, it takes concerted effort to have even an hour a day to spend with your child. That’s where the importance of communication comes in. As mentioned, my mom is a full-time home-maker and so she is able to spend a lot more time with us. There are times when my father only comes home after we are all asleep. On those nights, my mother updates him about us and keeps him in the loop on household matters. Communication is important even in families with two working parents. This is due to the difference in ways that a child interacts with his mother and with his father. Each parent is likely to have a unique understanding of what the child is going through and so it is important for both parents to share what they perceive and know with each other.
The last practical step that I would like to share is to not compare. Comparing is something which happens quite naturally in our minds. We must be careful, though, not to let the thoughts slip out into our words or our actions. I have a cousin who is of the same age as I am, but a lot smarter. Not once have my parents asked why my grades do not match hers. My sisters are both a lot more organized than I am and my parents have punished me on numerous occasions for not taking care of my belongings, but they do not tell me to be more like my sisters. You see, the children do the comparing themselves, but if they sense that their parents are comparing them to one another, it could call into question the love that the parents have for them – is their love dependent on how much the child lives up to their expectations? Freedom and even trust can be conditional, but unless the love a parent gives is without condition, it is of no value to the child.
By not sparing the rod and by not ceding to our crying when we were younger, my parents were able to stamp their authority. By giving of their time and communicating with each other, they are able to better understand and support us. Finally, in not comparing me with my siblings, my parents assure me of their unconditional love which enables me to trust and obey their decisions, even the tough ones.
Abraham is an Economics student at the Singapore Management University.