As our children's eyes open to a new day, how do we greet them? Is it in a distracted, hurried way, while thinking about all the chores of the day and mentally making to-do lists? Do we often sound something like this? To our 3-year-old, ‘Shreya, come, come, wake up kanna, it is 7.15! Time to get ready!’. To our 8-year-old, ‘You did not hear the alarm! It already rang twice! Wash up and have your breakfast quickly’, or to our teenager, ‘C’mon late again! When did you sleep last night?! How long were you chatting??’
As our children come out from the school gates in the afternoon, are we on the mobile or busy chatting with other school parents? Is our small one being dragged along while we are still on a call or are we questioning them incessantly about what happened at school.
‘Did you submit your homework? Did you finish your tiffin? What did the teacher teach you today? Why is your dress so dirty?!’
When we open the doors of our homes to our older children, do we see their tired faces and hunched bodies? Is it a preoccupied ‘Hi, how was your day?’ with a round of instructions.
‘Hey! Put your shoes in the rack, Go and change quickly, snack is on the table. See what I made for you? You like it na? Hurry! No! No TV until you finish homework!’
And as we are putting them to bed are we shushing them and hurrying them to go to sleep, ‘No, not another story! It’s late. Sleep now, baba.’ or to their older siblings, ‘Have you packed your bag? Did you finish your assignment?
Every child, whether a toddler or a teenager, needs to feel deeply loved, valued and cared for by us. When we re-connect with our children after being apart it is an opportunity for us to show them how much they mean to us. We have at least four such occasions every day when we get to welcome, meet and receive our children- Wake up time, returning from school time, coming back from play/tuition time and sleep time.
What is meant by ‘welcoming, meeting and receiving the child’?
It is the happiness with which we meet them after each separation. It is the way we look fully into their eyes when we wake them in the morning, the way we receive them when we pick them up from school or the way we say goodnight.
It is the smile, wave or a hug we give them to show how joyful we are to see them again. It is listening to their little conversations, to the chatter and laughter, paying attention to what they may be feeling at the moment – happy or sad or anxious or disappointed or angry. It is holding hands or linking arms, ruffling their hair or jostling with each other.
These expressions show our children that their Amma and Appa are happy to see them – we missed you, we want to hear what you have to say, we want to know about your day, anything you want to share.
When the child knows how important they are to us, then a secure attachment between the parent and child is built. This bond will help us guide and support the child throughout their lives.
Now let us rewind to the start of the day and make the most of each of these moments! How do you want to welcome your child to a new and beautiful day?
Author: Sujata Dewaji is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.