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What kids really need

What Do Kids Really Need From Their Parents?

What do your kids really need from you? Is it to have a nice house and a day full of activities? Is it to have healthy food and holiday celebrations? Is it to have regular vacations and nice clothes? Is it to have new technology and spending money? This is what today’s world tells us “good parents’ do for their kids.

Let me offer some ideas in a new direction:

  • One-on-one time with each child at least once a month.
  • A willingness to listen, talk through things and ask great questions.
  • Guidance in how to sort through the options in today’s world for those that fit each child.
  • A willingness to learn who each child is and the patience and support to let them be who they are.
  • Be really interested in them as people – what they think, like, are good at and what matters to them.

I like to share with my parent audiences that a parent’s role is to guide, support and coach their kids into discovering, developing and living who they really are. That what our kids need most from us is for us to pay attention to learn who they are so we can translate and interpret the world to help them make sense of how to connect to the places in their world that need what they do and love best. Sure, they need food and a roof over their heads. But even more, they they need someone who is vested in their success in life – who is committed to helping them see what is unique, amazing and different about them and to appreciate and value it to define what success in life means to them and how to achieve it.

A world filled with stuff

As we fill our kids’ worlds with stuff, we create distance between us – the things get in the way. If a child has so many great things to play with, the objects become the attention, not time with family and parents. What if you intentionally limited the “physical generosity” (gifts) for your kids in favor of more “attention generosity” – more intentional and mindful time with your kids? What might you find out about them? How might they better connect with you? How might you use this time to help them really get ready for life?

Many times we have to stop listening to our loud and pushy world that tells us that spending on our kids is how we show our kids we love them. We are conditioned. They are conditioned. All that really happens is we get further from each other and fill our landfills with stuff.

What do your kids really need from you?

Focused attention. Focused interest. Focused care. In these moments, two heads and hearts can connect – trust is built, relationships are established and guidance can be provided.

Check in on how you “love” your kids. Do you love them with things or do you love them with “you?” When you look back in 10 or 15 years, you will see that all they ever really wanted was time with you.

About Jay Forte

Jay Forte is a family, teen, career and mindfulness coach, author, motivational speaker and nationally ranked Thought Leader. He helps parents learn how to guide, support and coach their kids to discover, develop and live who they really are - to help them be ready for life.

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15 comments

  1. It’s so important to have an open relationship of trust with your children. Kids and teens are so vulnerable to negative influences, and if they don’t feel they can tell their parents, they can end up getting themselves into even more trouble. Talking about awkward subjects like drug use and sex can be tricky, both for the parent and the child. Patience as a parent is such an important quality to practice, especially when your child decides to consult your advice. Hearing their side of the story and trying to relate to their standpoint can help maintain open communication and trust.

    • Parents need to teach their kids how to make money. Kids will often have a hard time making money. Parents need to help their kids make money.

    • Personally, I think it’s tricky if we as parents allow it to be. Kids pick up on our vibes. If you talk to your kid in a relaxed and confident manner, they will respond in the same way. If you approach them in an awkward and embarrassed way, then that’s how they will be with you. If it means rehearsing your talk a hundred times before you actually have it with your child, I think it’s well worth it just so you are both at ease.

    • Kids need love. With love trust can be built. Trust is the most important factor for any relationship.

  2. I really like this article.
    As a mother of three small kids and being the one who also earns the money in the house it can be very difficult. You are always stuck between those two chairs, you want to spend more time with your kids but at the same time you need to earn money so you can pay for the rent, bills, etc. I always try to spend as much quality time with them as possible no matter what. Having one special day just for one child once a month is a really good tip and I think in my case, in which the age difference is very big among my kids, this totally makes sense.

  3. It as simple as you say, kids need our attention, that’s all they ask for. I can spend hours with my kids, but those 10 or 15 minutes I am playing a game with them or with the small cars are the moments they value the most and that they will cherish forever.

  4. Well I think that perhaps the main answer to the question is a part of the question itself – notice how it is parents and not parent. Having a two parent household provides so many advantages for the children and it is the best way to raise a child, in my opinion. I have no issues with other people’s opinions or positions on the issue, either, and to each their own, but I am merely stating what I believe. The rest of the list in the article are certainly important, though, and no parents, no matter how many of them, are effective if they are inactive and not involved with their children.

  5. I have a 5 year old daughter, and we’re not staying together at the moment. I do get to see her quite a lot and I think that what she really needs from me is more time with me. When we are together she just needs me to be present and focused only on her, and not on my phone or whatever else. That makes her so happy.

  6. Parents need to teach their kids how to make money. Kids will often have a hard time making money. Kids often struggle when trying to make money.

  7. Can I just say thank you for your blog post? Because that’s how my parents raised me. I got to spend time with them one-on-one. We talked about things. They listened to me and respected me. That’s not to say we didn’t have our ups and downs as all families do, but never once did I doubt their love for me, and I think them going the extra mile to truly raise me instead of just throwing inanimate objects at me to occupy me was a big part in that. I was lucky enough to have a lot of the latest toys from gaming consoles to dolls, but my parents always prioritized family time.

    I do think it’s easier when you only have two children (my youngest sister, the third child, wasn’t born until I was 19) to give them a lot of focus, but it should always be the priority, because (hopefully) when that kid grows up, they’re going to reflect more on the guidance you gave them as opposed to whether or not you got them the newest console that time.

  8. Well, that’s true, but at an older age, most likely when they are finishing high school good guidance on how to make money can be priceless, but way before that we need to help build a good and positive person for life and society.

  9. Time, Time and time!!! That’s the first thing the children want from their parents. There have been several studies done on human behavior and it has been found that those children who do not get enough time and attention from their parents, grow up to become disturbed adults and acquire some psychological issues which lead to substance abuse, violence, loneliness, depression and so on. Give your children quality time and share with them those important moments when they need you most. Again, let them grow up as normal kids and do not try to burden ten with your unfulfilled ambitions.

  10. I’ll tell you what we need. TIME. Try and spend as much time with your children as possible and let them know that you’re not doing it because you have to, but because you want to. And just spend time with them, but actually take time to listen to them and try not to get distracted by other things. Showing them that they can count on you is very important too. And try to be there for them in times of distress when they feel hopeless, even if they don’t come to you first. Also, try to take them into account, try to notice that they are there and invisible, they will really appreciate that.

  11. There’s a lot of very valuable advice here, the most important of which is spending the time to get to know your child as an individual, and showing genuine interest in how they feel about things. Establishing and reinforcing the fact that you are always there to listen to your child means they are more likely to come to you for advice when they need it later in life. Great article.

  12. This is an amazing way to put it. Simply put, our children need our FULL, undivided attention. As parents, we need to really know who are children are and dig deep. We do this all the time, we do one-on-one “reconnecting” with our kids, even take a day out together!

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