I could not believe the commercial aimed at parents that I saw on television last night. It showed two children parked in front of the TV as their parents were walking out the door (dressed for a night on the town). As they walked out, the father turns around and says "now don't forget to practice your video games tonight!"
Just another of the "you don't have to get involved - just get your kid this knowledge based gadget" ads - this one was just a little more up-front.
The message is disturbing. Parental involvement is an option.
You are the most important thing in your child’s life. The truth is that you are not an option!
Having worked with children and their families for over 35 years, this increasing trend of promoting parental non-involvement is very disturbing to me.
Is it really any wonder that our kids are losing interest in reading? Or visiting bookstores? Or spending any time really discussing things that are important to them with their parents? We see the sad results of this in the news every day. The parent with the shocked look who says "I had no idea my child was doing those horrible things." Really?
When was the last time you spent any time thinking about what your child might need FROM YOU as opposed to the self-centered "What about me! Don't I deserve....." that I hear so often from distressed parents.
I realize that the increasing demands of our society on our time and finances make finding this time extremely difficult. A little time can always be found if you really look.
Take some time out. Everyone can find 1 half hour during the week to spend talking to - or maybe actually reading and discussing - a story with your child. Hint: Try turning off the TV for just 1/2 hour some evening. You may find your own life is actually more interesting than the made-up ones that you see on the TV screen.
As readers of my articles know, I am a tremendous fan of spending time reading with your child. Reading and having discussions can set the stage for learning experiences and memories that can last a child a lifetime. This one-on-one time with your child is a precious gift that only you can give.
Also - before you select a book or story - read it first and then ask yourself the question "is there something in this story that I would really want to discuss with my child - something that might be beneficial to him/her?"
If the answer is "not really" - choose another book.
There are a number of wonderful children’s books out there that teach - or set the stage for - meaningful discussions in areas that are important to your child. One such book is The Adventures of Seamus the Sheltie that I wrote to specifically address this need. This book recently won the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award. There are many others.
And yes, parental involvement is required.