Investing into your child(ren)

If you would be expecting a post about how to make the most money for whatever you put into your child(ren), then you’re at the wrong spot, what I am trying to touch here is on a different level. I think most parents will agree that having a  child (to keep things consistent, I will refer to a single child, but works for pretty much any number of them) will change your life 180 degrees, if for better or worse will strongly depend on you, but what you make of it is what in the end really counts.

To come back to the title of this post, the investment I am referring to is not counted in how many game consoles the child has, how many games (or toys) you buy, it is not about instrument lessons you pay or sports teams, but what you invest in the first place, is your time and attention to the child. Or should. Only too often you see parents that are both working full time and therefore only are able to spend little time with their children (or in a sadder spin on this, parents that do not WANT to spend their time with their children…), but are trying to overcompensate in the wrong direction.

Often the child is either swamped with toys and gifts, where the less time can be spent corresponds to the more money thrown at them, or they are enrolled in (too) many extracurricular activities that will eat away even more of the precious time and in the end tire out both parents and child. Some people seem to think that investing money into the child will make the problems go away, but more often than not all the child wants is attention and to be with the parents, even if it is something as easy (and cheap) as going to the park or reading a book or just watching some TV together, often a child is way simpler than you would think.

A lot of people around here have one or more children enrolled in the Canadian national sport of hockey. Little do they know originally that the majority of their “spare” time is going to be swallowed whole by practices, games, tournaments etc., which often means ice times at 6.30 am in the morning (Calgary is really bad for this, for example) or overnight tournaments on weekends and therefore eating away from other activities that could be done otherwise, such as special outings to the zoo, when they have a special event going on, a festival or a show, because “hockey comes first” and if you do not show up every time, you are in trouble. Which is sad, to be shackled by something that should be a pastime, a  hobby, not a job, especially if the kids are not even in their teens yet.

Sometimes just making the effort and spending the time with the child, just the two/three of you, can make a big difference, because the child wants to be with you, the parent(s). Even if they do it with the school, still go out and go apple picking in fall, go see Santa in the mall (no, I’m not trying to rhyme here), do things with your child, you and him/her, savour the time you spend with them to do things that you WANT to do, not that you HAVE to do because the child might get kicked off the team or something along those lines…

Also, if you bury them with toys and games all the time, they will a) begin to expect to get something whenever you go out shopping and b) automatically spend more time with the toys and games and start to lose interest in doing things with you on a personal and emotional level, because they get somewhat estranged from it and that is where things can spiral straight out of control. Very easy examples are taking a walk, going to the park, playing with cars (or dolls), reading a book, drawing, puzzles or even just having fun together tickling each other, laying on the bed, being silly, it does not take much to make them happy.

So before you brush them off or assume that they will just want that gazillionth video game, try to ask them what they would like to do and you might be amazed by how easy the answer might be… Only too soon your child will want to spend time with their friends and not be interested as much anymore in just being with you and you will regret having lost this special bond, also because they will imitate you and if you do not give them attention or show them things, they will start to do the same, both to you and probably further down the road to their own children. (615)

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4 comments to Investing into your child(ren)

  • [...] an earlier post in our “Thoughts” category I had referred to investing into your children and how important and easy it sometimes is to concentrate on the basics. If you look at your [...]

  • Michelle

    I do agree that it is very important to spend time with your children, however I don’t agree with your view on the Calgary Hockey parents. “Which is sad, to be shackled by something that should be a pastime, a hobby, not a job, especially if the kids are not even in their teens yet.”-this could possibly be something the child enjoys. I grew up playing softball (sometimes 10 games in a weekend) and it was something I enjoyed and still something I shared with them as they were at all of my games and practices. If this is how they wish to spend their spare time I see nothing wrong with that. I think it can vary from family to family…It could be sports for one family or crafts for another…

    • Alex

      Hi Michelle,

      thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. When I was referring to Calgary, I was not talking about the parents, but that the city is notoriously “bad” when it comes down to ice time, where many youth teams have to play at 6 or 6.30 am to get any ice time at all.

      While I agree that chances are that the child thoroughly enjoys it, many sports are so all-encompassing that they do not leave any time for downtime, as in no time to do other things on weekends, because you have to be at hockey, at practice, at games, at tournaments, something that I have witnessed with colleagues of mine (not just in Calgary) many times, such as missing out on meeting Santa, going to a special event at the zoo or at the port, because God forbid, they would have missed a practice…

      Also it is not fair to compare sports to crafts, for example, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that we do more crafts than sports. For one I haven’t found any craft practice and tournaments yet and for the other, if you don’t show up for your Saturday morning craft, well, it’ll still be there on Sunday, while with organized sports you have the pressure of having to show up. Yes, it teaches responsibility to commit to something, but I hope that you understand what I mean.

      • Michelle

        I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one lol. I still find nothing wrong with waking up at 7am for ice time or playing a sport all weekend. It was something I grew up doing and loved it. I am so thankful my parents supported me and traveled all through the US with me so I could do something I loved (with them). Are there times where waking up at 7am is not fun, sure. It teaches discipline and hard work can help you reach your goal. My goal was to get a full scholarship and play division 1 softball. So those few mornings where maybe I didn’t want to wake up paid off in the end when I reached my goal. Never did my parents say you have to play this year, it was always my choice. It also teaches what it is like to be part of a team. Maybe today I don’t really feel like playing, but my team needs me and I will be there for them. Important lessons in life can really be learned through sports; dedication, hardwork, teamwork, self-esteem, discipline…I also still had a fun childhood where I still did crafts, sat on Santa’s lap and went to plenty of Zoos. On the other hand, I think it is fine if a child doesn’t want to play sports and is interested in other things. It is all about supporting our children and there isn’t one correct way. We all raise our children differently and have our own special bonds with them, so I just find it a little unfair to judge others because they are doing something a little different. This is why we have a world full of different people with different personalities and outlooks on life (it’s a good thing) :)

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