I still remember a particular time when I was not exactly being an available parent.
I was busy working on some things on my computer, and feeling a little frustrated and stressed because I was having trouble figuring something out.
In the middle of my frustration, one of my older “kids” came in the room, and began to talk to me.
She told me a little about something from her day, and I responded — then went back to looking at the computer to figure things out. After a brief pause, she started talking again, and I looked at her and we talked again for a couple of minutes.
I thought she was done talking, so once again I began to try to figure out what I was working on.
Trying to figure it out was irritating me, and then SHE HAD THE NERVE TO TALK AGAIN – right in the middle of my irritation and frustration!
I’d like to say that once again I stopped working and kindly turned to listen, However, the reality is that I sighed in frustration and l turned to look at her again.
Then she said, “I’m sorry. I just want to tell you one more thing, then I’ll quit bothering you.”
OUCH! The minute the words came out of her mouth. I just knew I had made the mistake of putting my computer work before my daughter. And all she needed was for me to listen.
What are signs of emotionally unavailable parents?
Have you ever been there, and done that? Maybe not the exact same scenario, but you are trying to read a book, or talk to a friend, and one of the kids “needs” something – and you look at it as a “bother.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to EVER feel that I consider them as a bother!
I want to be available when they want or need a listening ear. Sometimes our kids need that listening ear at the most “inconvenient” times. Late at night, or when we are trying to get something done. But they need to know that they are welcome to come to us and talk at any time.
In order to avoid conveying the message: “I’m busy -you’re bothering me,” we need to purposefully work at being an available parent for our kids.
7 TIPS FOR BEING AN AVAILABLE PARENT
1. Predict when your kids will want to talk and be available for them.
One of my kids always likes to come and talk to me in the evening when everyone is busy elsewhere. But I’m usually trying to finish up some things at my desk and online. I have learned to expect him to come, and to just plan to spend some time chatting with him.
We have had some of our best conversations ever during those times, and I have learned to cherish the time with him.
2. Limit distractions when you are with your kids.
You can literally spend hours reading great, encouraging blogs about being a good mom or homeschooler, and the whole time you are ignoring your kids! I’m not saying don’t ever read those, because I think it’s important to get encouragement regularly.
What I am saying though is time spent online can be a HUGE time waster, so you MUST discipline yourself not to allow it to consume your days.
How do I become an emotionally available parent?
3. Schedule your online time to be available for your kids.
Set times when you will check your email, your Facebook page, or write posts on your blog. Set your schedule based on your kids’ schedules and needs. Be available when they are going to have downtime.
By scheduling and limiting your time online you are setting a good example for your kids about managing their time well.
4. If you work online, let your kids know when your scheduled work time is.
They need to respect that work time, and not disturb you unless it’s very important. This will let you get your work done, and allow you to be more available to the family the rest of the day.
Once your work is done, you won’t be frustrated when kids need your time or attention.
What is a supportive parent?
5. Encourage conversation around the table at mealtimes.
My older kids still talk about how they used to love those times. We would all just at the table and talk, and laugh together. Some of our best times were spent laughing and talking at the table after a meal.
6. If one of your kids needs to talk to you, invite them to go along on an errand.
Many of the best conversations with my kids have been when we were driving somewhere together alone. This way they have my undivided attention.
7. Give your kids individual attention in your daily routines.
I used to love having a kitchen helper. My kitchen helper would join me in meal preparation. They’d also help with some of the clean-up.
The reward for being the helper for the day was that they got to stay up an extra 30 minutes, and spend time with me, or me & my husband. They chose whether we played games, talked, or just snuggled on the couch reading books.
Having this setup helped me be sure that I purposefully spent time with each of the kids, letting them know they were important and special to me. They LOVED it, and it provided many great times of bonding with them.
When you purposefully choose your kids over the internet, your phone, or that book you are reading, and make yourself available, it says to them “You are important to me.” It affirms them and makes them feel loved.