October 29, 2006

"You Can Fake Like You Care,

But You Cannot Fake Being There

Busy family schedules can rob our children of needed attention.

In the lives of our kids it is often easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget to "show up" in our kid's lives. It is common, in the hurry of the day to speak much more cheerfully to the person serving coffee at the Quick-Stop on the way to work than to those in our family that we love. With the busy schedule that most families live today, it never hurts to stop and develop a plan for SHOWING THAT WE CARE. We cannot just assume that others know that we care. Our children are especially in need of our presence in their lives. They need to experience their value in the world expressed in many ways by parents. In order to give them that attention we must have a PLAN.

Here is a list of ways that we can show our love for our children: (and remember that spouses can benefit from the same loving actions!)

*Notice them... get caught staring at them and even throw in a wink.
Answer their questions with full attention at eye level.
*Create traditions and fight for them.
*Laugh at their jokes.
*Include them in your jokes. (If that makes you uncomfortable, Maybe you ought to change the jokes you tell.)
*Smile at them frequently.
*Acknowledge them with a heartfelt "Good morning!" and a "Hi!" when you see them.
*Discuss their dreams with them (nightmares included.)
*Be relaxed in their presence.
*Just sit with them while they are doing things.
*Say their names.
*Contribute to their collections.
*Hide surprises for them to find.
*Kneel, squat, or sit so that you are at their eye level when you talk to them or listen to them.
*Go and find them at unexpected times.
*Play outside together.
*Surprise them.
*Remember their birthdays and other significant days in their lives. ("This is a celebration of the day that you took your first step, trip to the doctor, etc.)
*Ask them to tell you about themselves.
*When they ask your advice give them a choice of options and let them choose between them.
*Give them time to think while answering questions and, of most importance, listen to their answers.
*Stay with them when they are afraid.
*Notice when they are absent and let them know that you miss them.
*Follow them when they lead.
*Play with them... Adults can start the water balloon fight!
*Expect their best... and accept that their best might not perfection.
*Be available.
*Do what they like to do.
*Share their excitement.
*Be honest.
*Be sincere.
*Include them in conversations.
*Brag about them when they don't think you know they are listening.
*Call them from work.
*Eat meals together.
*Plan discussion topics for dinner and announce them ahead of time.
*Tell them what your expectations are for their behavior.
*Practice desired behaviors with them before they are in the situation.
*Introduce them to adults and tell the adult something of significance about them rather than telling them about the adult.
*Help them to see mistakes as learning opportunities and not failures.
*Tape record messages to them.
*Tape record them.
*Video tape them just being themselves... like during one of those dinner conversations.
*Write them letters and send the letters to them in the mail.
*Go places together... take them along on errands.
*Build something together.
*Give them jobs at home that require thought and planning.
*Let them do the jobs that you give them.
*Welcome (and use) their suggestions.
*Make decisions together.
*When you make decisions for them include them in your thought processes so that they can make that decision next time.
*Help them to take stands on moral and ethical issues and then stand with them.
*Hug them.
*Set boundaries but help them to understand the reasons for those boundaries.
*Believe what they say.
*Tackle new tasks together.
*Cheer for their accomplishments.
*Encourage them to help others and recognize them when they do.
*Create a safe environment for them.
*Share secrets.
*Stop and enjoy time together; even a minute at the bathroom sink.
*Be consistent but flexible.
*Praise loudly, criticize softly.
*Let them act their age.
*Tell them about yourself.
*Tell them what you believe and why you believe it.
*Help them to become an expert at something.
*Laugh with them DAILY!
*Ask their opinion about things.
*Show that you are excited to see them.
*Let them tell you how they feel.
*Display their artwork around the house... nicely framed.
*Thank them!
*Smile at them constantly.
*Keep promises... even small ones. In there eyes promises are all the same size.
*Find a common interest.
*Let them pick the music, at home or in the car, and listen to it with them.
*Apologize when you've done something wrong.
*Hold hands.
*Take a walk.
*Read aloud together.
*Read moral literature and help them understand it.
*Use your ears more than your mouth.
*Show up at events.
*Learn from them and let them know what you learned.
*Tell them how terrific they are.
*Always suggest a better behavior when they have chosen an inappropriate one.
*Be nice.
*Look them in the eye when you talk to them.
*Give them space when they need it.
*Use the rides in the car as interaction time.
*Tell them how much you like being with them.
*Develop a "secret word" for your family.
*Meet their friends.
*Meet their friend’s parents.
*Admit it when you make a mistake.
*Be honest with them and in their presence.
*Give them a private nickname and don't use it in front of others. (Let them do the same with you.)
*Above all laugh, Laugh, LAUGH, and laugh some more.
*Print this list and use at least one each day.

You can PLAN to show your love for your kids. Add to this list or create a new list of your own. Search elsewhere for lists of ways of showing that you love and care for your children. We found many of the ideas on this list in YMCA handouts, church bulletins, childcare brochures, and other places.

Remember that you can fake like you care but you can't fake being there. The common element to each item on the above list is time.

Kids spell love "t-i-m-e!"

Give your kids lots of your time and they will grow up knowing that they are valued people!

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