I work at a private Preschool and every day, words cannot explain the joy the children bring into my life. However, every now and again, a parent says something that throws me for a loop.
For example, just the other day we had to make phone calls to the parents of the children in our Pre-2s class in order to fill them in on their child’s progress in school. One of our students (let’s call him Ahmed) knows how to say many words, but is extremely reluctant when it comes to saying them out loud. His nanny says that getting him to participate in conversation is like pulling teeth. Even when Ahmed is smiling and completely engaged, we (the preschool staff and I), have noticed this pattern. With Ahmed still being so young, it is still early enough in his development to try and change this habit. There could be variety of reasons as to why he does not speak. He could be shy, scared, unsure, or maybe he just doesn’t feel like it is worth the effort. Even so, let’s be very clear on one thing; his speech is not what is concerning.
When we called Ahmed’s mom to discuss his speech she said has noticed his lack of speech a little, but “wouldn’t really know”. We suggested she and her husband increase the amount of taking during activities that they do with Ahmed. For example, they could try talking to him about his food when sitting down to eat or consider asking him questions when reading a book to him. She responded with “I don’t have time to talk to him”.
“I don’t have time to talk to him”
I do acknowledge the fact that raising a child is expensive, and not spending enough time him or her due to the fact that you are working to support them may be unavoidable. You could suffer from a medical problem, like an injury, that physically prevents you from spending time with your child. Or perhaps there has been a recent family emergencies that is not only occupying your time, but your thoughts as well. My point is these excuses should not become commonplace. They should not be the norm.
Please understand that this is not a jab at parents who use a nanny to help raise their children. I understand the need to use a nanny and that when you have one, he or she happens to spend the most time with your child. My issue is that a nanny, teacher, or a night class at the local university, etc., do not replace that you are THE parent. You need to have an allotted amount of time set aside to spend with your child (or children!) if you plan on becoming a parent.
“You need to have an allotted amount of time set aside to spend with your child”
Let’s do the math for spending time with a child (< 5 years old) for an hour a day. If you and your spouse individually spend an hour with your child per day, that adds up to 2 hours per day. What about 7 days a week. So 2 hours per day with your child for 7 days gives us 14 hours a week. So children under 5 years old you should be given, at the very least, an hour per day of personal time by the parent on a regular basis no matter what else is going on. Period. Obviously, I suggest more.
It is important to note that studies show that helicopter parenting has negative effects on a child. A helicopter parent is someone who takes an overprotective interest in their child’s life, so much so that it borders on excessive. Too much parenting is just as harmful as the other side of the coin. My advice is to try to use your best judgement. Talk to your child. Observe and pay attention your child. I know it can be challenging finding the right balance, but if you do not have time to even SPEAK to your child, clearly we have problem. Therefore, before even having a child take the time to TALK (you have to communicate as well) to your spouse about the commitment you are planning on making. Having a family is a beautiful thing, so please make sure you are ready to do so. And like I said, make sure you set aside quality time to spend with the beautiful little life you and your spouse have just created.