I have recently taken a one-week holiday with my mother. We went sightseeing, visited museums and tried out an array of local delicacies.
But nothing is as important as our casual chats which brought us even closer together. During the short week, we exchanged views about religious beliefs, families and dreams.
I understand that not every family can afford a vacation abroad. Nevertheless, parents should take turns to “chill out” with their children regularly.
The father and the mother perform different roles to their children. As such, a unique chemistry can be established if each parent bonds with the children in a cozy, one-on-one setting.
It will also help each parent better understand the personality of the child in the absence of the spouse.
If you have two children, you can separate into two groups. In the case of my friends, the father and the mother often arrange an “unusual” family day, during which each of them takes one child out. Then they switch roles in the next family day.
Hanging out in this way, if done once in a while, could ease conflicts between the siblings, if there are any.
It might be unavoidable for children to feel they are being treated unfairly in the family.
For instance, parents could be seen spending more time supervising the elder’s academics or attending to the younger child’s needs.
Through equal allocation of time for one-on-one meetings, children will get to understand that parental love is not diminished by their siblings.
Don’t wait until your kids are grown up and living their own lives before you realize that you have not shared precious, personal moments with them.
Inspecting your kids’ homework doesn’t count as “quality” time for building up parent-child relationship.
Take action today and plan real “time out” with each of your children.
First, start dating your better half, then your children.
I would like to make a few suggestions so that parents and their kids could truly enjoy and benefit from these encounters.
1. Make it a habit. Many working parents find it hard to spare some time from their busy schedule to be with their children. Setting a schedule for the meet-up could be the solution.
Parents should make the arrangement based on the age of the children. For instance, spare more time to play with the younger ones after school, or make better use of dinner time with the older children by listening to any interesting incidents that happened to them during the day.
2. Quality, not duration, is what matters. Quality comes when you immerse yourself in the company of your child during your time together. Taking a stroll in the park or going to a convenience store for an ice-cream can serve as good quality chat-up time.
3. Devotion. Presence of body and mind is equally important. Forget about your work and your mobile phone, and focus on your kid during this one-on-one meeting.
4. Put your child in charge. Children are experts when it comes to play. It’s an excellent idea to let them decide what you should do and talk about during your date.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 3.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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