Today I am reminded of a conversation a young lady and I had several years back. At the time, she was seventeen and a senior in high school just about ready to embark on her future – to really begin her life. This particular day she was struggling with her emotions and was weighted down by the heavy burden of grief. Grief that someone she loved died? No! Grief that a relationship had died! As she sat there in tears, pouring her heart out to me, she said, “Mrs. Deena, my mom and dad have worked hard all my life. They have had awesome jobs that gave them lots of money. They gave me everything I wanted while I was growing up: shoes, clothes, trips, a nice house to live in, but the thing I wanted most – more than any of that – was their time, and that’s the one thing they didn’t give me.”
Sadly, far too many children leave high school to begin their life’s journey dealing with the same grief. So many have had to sacrifice the parent/child relationship because their parents were chasing the American dream – much of the time in good faith believing they were fulfilling their kids’ dreams as well as their own. Parents mistakingly (and often innocently) believe that their kids – especially their teenagers – want things to be happy – and per their continual outstretched hand, it would appear so. Parents erroneously believe that their kids do not really care if they are around or not. Something happens as a child ages that puts – what seems to be – a natural buffer between themselves and their parents. However, although not many of them will admit it, all children WANT, desire, and NEED the time and energy of their parents during their formative years. They need “time”; NOT “things”.
Parents, I want to encourage you today that what your kids need most is not the newest pair of fad jeans or the most rad pair of kicks; they don’t need that umpteen millionth trip to Disney World; they need YOU. If you can provide all those things as well as quality time, then by all means, give them both. But, if your financial situation demands that you make a choice, give your kids what they really need: YOU! And while it may not seem like it at the time, when it’s all said and done, they will be glad you did.