There Is No Compensation For Time Spent With Your Kids

Something we as parents often feel guilty about is not spending enough time with our kids, or sometimes, not spending enough time with one of our children when we have multiple. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of compensating your kids in other ways to ease your guilt. We know we shouldn’t, but it makes us feel better to say, “Since I’m not there to go to the park with you, I’ll let you pick out anything you want in the candy store with the nanny,” or, “I’ll bring home a special treat.”

The problem is when we do this, we are teaching our kids several things that will stick with them. First off, we aren’t teaching them that disappoint is a fact of life and as a parent, it is impossible to be there every second. We’re also teaching them that they will get presents when things don’t go their way. They will start to expect extra things or place higher value on things like money. The truth is a candy bar or even something like a later bedtime can’t make up for you – the parent – being there, so there is no sense in teaching your children that those things are on the same playing field.

Whenever you feel yourself starting to give your child what you might deem as a “reward,” stop and ask whether you are actually rewarding your child for something that is deserving of praise or a special treat or are making up for something you feel you owe. If it’s the latter, try taking the approach of having a sensible conversation and explaining why you can’t be there. Can you spend extra quality time with your child in the near future? Make sure you explain that time together is of the utmost importance to you, and then take steps to show you mean it.

If you use money, food and other incentives to “make up” for your time, you are essentially sending the message that material things hold significance. Awareness is key, and nothing can make up for quality time.

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