My children are on school holidays. Always, entertaining kids can be quite difficult. Take yesterday. My wife had to work leaving me, dad, to look after the kids. We had planned to go to the skate park. Whilst, I was preparing by doing the washing up, my two boys became quiet agitated. Asking, “when are we going”? Their attention was taken for a time by playing a game of Ushies on the ground. Eventually my younger son bullied our dog by putting a metal frame over the top of him. I became quiet angry at what he had done. Bullying is not on. I said quiet firmly, “no, no we are not going to the park”. My boys behaviour only got worse. At times placing them on the stairs for some time out or sending them outside for 5 minutes to reflect. As the day moved on their behaviour did improve, so by mid afternoon, I said “let’s go to the skate park”.
When we got to the skate park there were a lot of kids and even young adults riding skate boards and scooters. I have heard lots of comments of parents going to the park with their kids, and spending all the time looking at their phones. So I made a commitment to get involved. Riding a scooter, even though I was probably the oldest by about 20 years, and probably the clumsiest. I was a bit of a dag. But immediately, their was a connection with my kids. They became excited and showed a new sense of interest in me because I had got involved. After, about one hour, I said to my kids, lets fly our kite which I had brought from home. Two children followed suite. Leaving one skating. With little wind in the air, I was amazed that my 5 year son, soon was running along the oval, and had the kite about 30 metres in the air for 3 to 4 minutes. He was so excited.
Research shows that the parent to child relationship is like a super-relationship for our children. Parents often do not realise that emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual interactions can stay with our children for many weeks, months and even years. Children form their self-concept, self-image and self-esteem with the parent as the critical foundation.
As Marists and Christians, we are called to get involved in our children’s life. At Baptism, we are asked “will you bring this child up in the faith?” The answer is not just religious moments of prayer, but ordinary moments of being present in the life of our children. Sometimes uncles, aunties or critical friends play this important part of the parent. Growing up my own parents were much to old to ride a scooter or fly a kite. I remember close relatives, much older sisters and brothers, getting involved. If children do not have adults in their life, to learn from, they learn from each other, thus children loose a sense of wisdom, formation and connection if our the elders of our families or communities do not play a part. Let us start having fun and playing with the children in our lives more often. These might be our nephews, nieces or even neighbours.
I must admit, by the end of the day, my kids behaviour, especially the boys, improved out of sight. Was it because I became more involved in their world?