Attention – One of the Greatest Gifts

One of the greatest gifts you, Mom and Dad, can give your children is your attention. Face to face talking to your children, particularly your young children, is vitaI. A child’s first and hopefully best and most influential teachers are their parents. Today parents tend to rate their parenting on how nice their house is, how many screens their children have, and how many things they take their kids to—piano lessons, gymnastics, soccer, art, choir, etc. If we would change that perception to how much quality 1:1 time parents spend with their children, including simply talking to them and reading with them, to actually teaching them about what matters, what’s important, and how to contribute and be responsible, it could significantly change education and futures. This is the attention that really makes a difference, and which can best be provided by parents who hopefully know their children best, who care the most, and who are responsible for the results.

I am a big believer in identifying patterns, collecting data, and building new and better patterns. I would like to suggest to you parents that for a week you collect some data; try to be “normal,” don’t go out of your way to change your behavior—yet. Each day record how much quality targeted time you spend with your kids. You can include time teaching them how to mow the lawn or load the dishwasher, to teaching them how to kick a soccer ball, to talking to them about what they learned at school today, to teaching them about all the important stuff you know and care about over dinner, but to qualify you have to be talking.

After your week of collecting data, evaluate it. Because you were aware of what you were doing, your data is probably going to be a lot better than the previous weeks, but so be it. Look at your data and evaluate how well you think you did. Then think about how you could have done better and then do it. Be conscious, be aware, and strive to create new behavior patterns that provide your children with more of your life-changing attention.

Dads, you might suspect that this was largely directed at you, and you would be correct. We dads have some special power—use it!


      Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 36 No. 3, 2023 ©NACD

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