FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT'S CORNER
Make Time For Your Kids, Especially When It’s Tough
One of the most significant challenges modern families face is finding the time to actually be together as a family. While technology continues to draw people closer together through mobile messaging and social media applications such as Facebook, the demands of our modern world continually make it more difficult for parents and children to spend as much time together as they would like to.
We have come a long way from the “idyllic” 1950s image of a traditional family: the hardworking dad, the stay-at-home mom, two kids and a dog, who meet at the table every morning and evening for family meals. Today’s economy often requires both parents to work, often for long hours and on nights and weekends, and sometimes even to travel frequently. Couple those circumstances with kids’ afterschool and weekend activities, and you have very little time to have everyone together in one place.
The onus is on us, the parents, to maintain the family structure. Above all, we need to stay in touch with our kids. No matter how hard a father or mother has to work, no matter the stress and the long hours, a parent has to make the time to be there. All it takes is a simple time commitment: a standing appointment to spend time with your children. If you can’t always be there in person, take advantage of the technology at our fingertips and make a phone call or send a text message to let your kids know you’re there and you care. Write down on the household calendar specific times you’ll connect with your kids, or mark the time in your planner or smart phone just as you would with a business meeting. This will show your child that you take these appointments seriously and are intent on keeping them. Kids are usually more understanding of our job demands than we may think, but they also need to know that they can always reach out to us, and that we, in turn, will always make the time and effort to reach out to them as well.
One helpful way to encourage deeper conversation is to ask your child to jot down the things he or she wants to tell you about. Kids can do this by keeping a list on their computers or cell phones, or by writing them down the old fashioned way, on paper. This way, even if they have to wait until late at night or the next day to spend time with you, their thoughts can still be fresh in their mind. Parents can do the same!
Above all, be creative. Even if you are limited to a few minutes, make the most out of your time with your kids. Instead of limiting the conversation to what they did in school, try sharing fun stories or coming up with games that can carry over from one conversation time to the next. Your children will appreciate the effort, and you can both look forward to spending time together again. #
Dr. Carole Hankin is the superintendent of Syosset Schools, Long Island, N.Y.