Just Be There.

by Dr. Marc Drummond

Father and son

Did you know that the word “parenting,” while found in print as early as 1918, was not a common or generally accepted word until the 1970s? In fact, the intransitive “to parent” did not show up in print until 1970. But since then, it’s worked its way into the mainstream and then some. A 2023 search for “parenting books” on Amazon yields over 50,000 results. Social media is packed with posts by parents sharing their tips, tricks, hacks, and general approaches whether you seek them or not. There’s even a primetime TV show now called “The Parent Test” where participants put their diverse parenting styles to practice in a reality show setting.

So, which style is best? There is no best style.

One thing all experts can agree on is the importance of spending time with your kids. But how much time? Depending on the research, the recommended amount of time is somewhere between 20 minutes to two hours a day, but the reality is that each child is different and so is every family. The amount of time to spend with your child is entirely dependent on that child and your unique family situation. Believe it or not, the concept of “spending time” with your children is a fairly new phenomenon. We can obviously all agree that spending time with your kids is important, right? And it almost seems silly to devote so much time to this topic? However, as parents we spend a lot of time near our children, which is different than spending time with our children.

How do you spend time WITH your kids? BE AVAILABLE.

Make yourself available to your children, especially when they initiate conversation. Granted, hearing the same story about some character on TV may seem trivial at times, but when you put down your phone and make that child the focus of all of your attention a couple of things happen:

1. They know that they are important enough for you to stop and pay attention to them. Parents are often stressed and crunched for time while juggling a job, bills, etc. Children pick up on our stress though, and when you take the time to focus on what they need, they feel like they, too, are important.

2. If children feel that they are not being heard at an early age, you can be sure they will not approach you when something important happens to them in their teens. Having an open door policy with your children at an early age is so very important because it sets the stage for really important conversations later on.

In closing, it is crucial to give kids attention regardless of how trivial something may be to you, because it is meaningful to them. So, put your phone down, turn off the television, get off the couch, get on their level and spend time with your kids. They will appreciate that more than you can imagine!

Marc Drummond, Psy.D., MBA received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology - Chicago. He also holds an MBA from Old Dominion University and a Masters of Science in Education from Eastern Illinois University. He has worked with children, adolescents, adults, and families since 1996.
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