When you are a working parent you are always challenged with the time you have for your child. You feel guilty for all the moments you missed and every time your child struggles with something you wonder if it would have been easier if you were around more.
One parent kept telling me how her daughter had a great spring break but she didn’t get to spend anytime with her. Mom had set her daughter up on play dates and fun activities, surrounded her with people she knew she loved and made sure her daughter was happy. However she still moaned about not being able to spend anytime with her. As we started exploring her feelings, she talked about feeling guilt of not spending time with her daughter because she was an introvert. Mom was convinced if she spent more time with her daughter, her daughter would say hi to more adults.
Guilt weighs on the thoughts and feelings of a parent when they are at work and when they come home. They look at every ‘failure’ of the child as a personal failure of theirs.
We look at these moments as off track behaviour asking for connection. Children need their parents for their sense of connection and completion. This sense of connection in an ideal world is there all the time and parents and children would be together. However the reality is not the same. Unless a parent enjoys spending all that time with their child they should not stay at home. We need to move away from looking at how many hours a parent spends with the child, to how many times the parent connects with the child eveyday.
Another parent struggled with separation anxiety with her daughter on a daily basis. Every day at work for her was time away from her daughter. We came up with a song
‘ I love you when I am with you
I love you when I am away
I love you when I am home
I love you when I am at work
I love you in the morning
I love you in the night..’ and so on.
The parent would sing this song to her daughter everyday before going to work. When her daughter came home from school babysitter would call mom and she would sing this song again. Over a period of time her daughter started feeling her mom’s warmth and love everytime she was not around.
Fathers often feel a sense of no control around their children when they are at work and their child is with mom. They want to do things with their child and for their child, but do not know how to start and where to go with it.
For all working parents we have 2 tools to start with.
When you are with your child at home, take out some special time. This would be child let time where you give the child complete power and control over yourself. Your child may decide to reject you and its ok. You tell your child you miss him and you want to be with him and will wait right here for him. Your child may test you by making you do tasks you would always say no to. Watch TV if that’s where you say no or create a mess if you are a neat freak. They need to see how far are you willing to go for them. Learn more about special time here.
Your child may have a great time with you during special time but may get upset and angry when the time gets over. This is not a waste of special time, but it is the gift of special time. Your child is trusting you enough with their bad feelings. They need you around to help release them. As they release these feelings their good thinking will kick in and they will be connected and happy again.
Tell your child you are right there, you love your child and you are so sorry its hard for them. Do not advice or explain. Simply being there, showering them with attention and providing support is all your child needs for their brain to get back on track. Learn more about stay listening here.
As a working parent your time with your child is short and doubly precious. Using these tools helps you be purposeful so you can use the time well.