It is well known in the field of psychology that if you ask a married couple to recount their fondest memories together, more often than not they will tell you of a time when they had very little and were struggling to build a life together. Usually they will laugh and tell you something like when they used a cardboard box for a table - but had each other. It becomes clear that what stands out in these memories are the relationships - not the things that they had. It was not the end point that was important - but the process.
Ask an adult about the fondest childhood memories that he or she has, and you will find a similar and more revealing response. Although the individual circumstances will dictate a wide variety of answers, the trend will be clear. It was sitting around the Christmas tree with the family on Christmas morning that will be remembered - not the gift that was received. It was the quiet times spent fishing and talking with Dad - not the fish that was caught. It was being read to by Mom - and maybe talking and laughing about the story - not the book. It was the walks together or maybe the camping trips - and the times spent talking because there was nothing else to do - not where you were or what you saw. It was the games you played together with your family - not how much the game cost or what it was. It was these things that became the fond memories of childhood.
As adults, our focus begins to shift to other priorities such as careers, money, and of course having more and better “things". If we are not careful, these pursuits will take us away from the most important thing for our children - quality time talking and being with us. Notice the word “talking" in that last sentence. Now I am certainly not suggesting that it is wrong somehow to pursue a career and money and the acquisition of things. I am however criticizing these things when they are focused upon to the exclusion of all of the things that are important to the child. The newspapers are full of stories about children who were born into fabulous wealth and privilege - who grew up into dysfunctional adults. The important things for a child were missing. Parenting should never be a spectator sport.
I realize that not every family is in a position to go camping or lives where fishing is possible. Some cannot even afford a tree at Christmas. Some live in areas when even a casual walk down the street can be hazardous. I realize these things. I would like to suggest however that reading to your child and maybe discussing the story is something that almost every parent can do. Books at the library can be checked out at no charge. Even “made-up" stories (like the ones my grandfather used to tell me) are also wonderful for the child. Remember, it is the process - not the goal - that is truly important.
I have yet to meet a parent - no matter how busy and overwhelmed - that cannot find ½ hour in a week to read and talk to their child. Hint: turn the TV off during these times.
You may be interested in one children's book that is designed for discussion. It is The Adventures of Seamus the Sheltie and can be viewed at my website: http://www.jamesbeverly.npauthors.com
Author, Masters Level Child Psychologist, musician, Sheltie lover