Saturday, 7 May 2016

Building Relationships with Our Children

Life in Singapore can be very hectic. By the time I arrived home from work on Wednesday, it was past six. I hurriedly marked a revision paper that J had done and whisked the kids out for dinner as it would be too late if I cooked.

While walking home, J asked to go to a bookshop. I replied that he had an exam the next day and we had to get home quickly. Then, he was lured by The Force Awakens, which was playing on a screen at the entrance of a video shop. His reverie was only broken by my loud beckoning. Next, An was attracted to a water feature where a toddler was playing at. Again, I quickly pulled her away and mumbled that Gege had to sleep early.

We got home, washed up, did some last minute revision for J's exam, did our bedtime routine and slept. I barely had any noteworthy conversations with the kids. Poor little An was quite neglected as her brother's exams seemed to take priority. I did not even see Lyn before I slept as he had to work late. It can be easy for parents to just go through necessities and not take time to cultivate relationships with children.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been quite influenced by the parenting views of the Clarksons. The older Clarksons homeschooled their four children who are now adults. All of them love the Lord and are excelling in their respective domains.

I was reminded while reading Sally Clarkson's Mission of Motherhood that we should take time to build relationships with our children and to nurture their hearts. She cited an example of a teenager who said that he was alright as a kid as his mother was always around whenever he got home from school. They would chat and were pretty close. However, she started working when he started junior high. He had a lot of time at hand with no parental input, so he hung around wild kids and did things that emotionally scarred him for life.

I noticed that as I spent more time with J during his exam period, Little An was left to her own devices. She destroyed her brother's correction tape and kept demanding my immediate attention. On the other hand, when I had individual time with her, she would smile incessantly and be very sweet. May I remember to dedicate time to my children each day and not neglect them.

Another thing that a podcast by Sally Clarkson reminded me recently was that parents should not rush through bedtime routines. Instead, the minutes before a child sleeps are precious and we can get the child talking about his joys, worries and his experiences for the day. We can soothe him with gentle massages instead of wishing that he would quickly go to sleep so we can have our me-time. I used to be able to do that with J when An slept early. I realised that he talked most during bedtime and would relate many things that happened in school. Now, An sleeps at the same time as J so I no longer have that heart to heart talk with him. I am thinking of how I can restore that time since they both sleep in the same room and Lyn is usually not around when they go to sleep. I have started to massage them more regularly to soothe them and have tried to send them to the bedroom earlier so we could still have time to chat without worrying about not having enough sleep. I pray for wisdom to design a bedtime routine that allows us to have a good conversation and yet not compromising the amount of sleep the children get.

I have also been impressed that Sally Clarkson could maintain her cool and react with grace even when her children were acting up. She told of an occasion when one of her children was feeling lonely and was exhausted from doing schoolwork. In response, she prepared a special snack for him, lit a candle and allowed him to have the snack in her room instead of going into a lecture on having a cheerful attitude. On another occasion, another child was exhibiting teenage angst. Sally brought her into her room, told her that she loved her and affirmed all her positive traits. The child was so grateful at being shown grace. I really must work at responding in grace, love and patience in difficult situations.

I also find my priorities changing. Previously, I was quite anxious whenever J had exams. This exam, we went out over the weekend after he had got sufficient work done till Lyn asked why I was arranging outings on the week of SA1. I hope I had helped J balance work and play and pray that he would still get reasonable results despite having played quite hard on two days last week. He is still in the midst of exams. I pray that we will not stress him with unrealistic demands but that we will emphasise good attitudes and the importance of learning.

Finally, I pray that I would continue to fix my eyes on God and continually depend on Him to be a wise and present parent. I am grateful that I work part time so the hectic schedule is not an everyday experience. I also pray hard that my application to extend my part time status would be approved.

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