Wednesday, March 11, 2009

He wanted the "whole full" of it ...

I remember the day my three-year-old watched me cut a sandwich before placing half of it on his plate. He looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, "But I wanted the whole full of it, Momma."

As parents, we are sometimes guilty of giving our children "half a serving" of our time and attention when they actually need the whole full of it. While packing lunches or washing dishes, we listen to them chatter with our backs turned to them. And in doing so, we miss the sparkle in their eyes as they share a new discovery...or the sadness as they realize we're too busy to really listen with the heart.

Okay, maybe we can't turn to face them and neglect dinner on the stove. But a glance in their direction and some eye contact is certainly called for now and then. Without it, we are little more than robotic parents going about our duties with a mechanical nod, expressionless eyes and metallic voices. At least once in the next 24 hours, give your child the attention they desperately need. It means you're really listening and you care.

When parents choose to give their children active attention for even 5 minutes, they've done a great thing. It means the eyes, voice and heart are all connected. And when the parent's heart is connected to the child's heart, good things are bound to happen.

Whether your child is four of fourteen, you'll come away from that moment knowing you gave your honest effort - the whole full of it - to being a great parent in that one brief span of time. The rewards, however, linger much longer.

As we practice this behavior again and again, our children will actually demand less - not more - of our time and attention. The reason? They feel secure, appreciated, valued and loved. And we feel less guilt at brushing them off too easily.

Good parenting isn't a half-hearted effort. It's a "whole-full-of-it" effort with tremendous rewards. Enjoy the journey!

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