I grew up in a community that had a large population of single parents, lower income families and immigrants new to Canada. I understood from a young age that my mother and I were, not financially sound, or for lack of a better word, poor. My childhood despite our circumstances was quite good. The point of me sharing this is not the issue of our finances, rather how much time my mother spent with me. My mother could of worked double shifts at her job with Nestle. But she made the decision the day that I was born to focus on me.
She awoke my creative mind with storytelling, she taught me to read before I entered elementary school, and helped me to understand the value of being polite. When my mother spent time with me she was fully engaged. We had conversations, which could last for hours. I loved to talk even back then. I am sure she must have been tired, but she would ask questions to prompt the discussion further. I know her attention is one of the major reasons, why I have a strong sense of self. Now that I am a mother, I do my best to always be in the moment with Emma.
Over the weekend a good friend of mine came for a visit. She is a recreational therapist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. She has seen first hand the results of unhealthy parenting. During Earth Hour, with candles lit, and a few glasses of wine, we talked about what children need from their parents. It boiled down to time, but time that was entrenched with commitment. A parent needs to be committed to reading, playing and listening to their child. If the time spent, has the little one playing a video game for hours by themselves, there is no engagement, and no connection with the parent. Eventually when the child/teen is ready to connect, it will not be with Mom or Dad. Outside sources will have a greater influence on what the teen will do, think or say. The parent’s voice will become background noise, something that can be tuned out quite easily. When I was growing up, that would be a scary scenario, just think about now.