Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fully-Present Parenting, the Greatest Gift

The other day my colleague and I were talking about high school graduation, not a surprising topic for this time of year. We both noticed that some kids seem to be able to navigate well upon leaving school and home, while others don’t fare so well at all. And we wondered about the deeper causes of this. At one point she remarked that someone had once told her that, generally speaking, those kids who, while safely tucked in bed at night, can hear their parents laughing on the couch in the living room, will be okay. That’s quite an intriguing statement.

     But is it true? My pediatrician at the time when my kids were toddlers, certainly seemed to think so. He had the following saying on the wall of the waiting room, for all to read:
     “The greatest gift a father can give to his kids, is to love their mother.”
     Both my colleague and my former pediatrician are pointing to the same thing: when parents truly love each other, care for one another and enjoy each other’s company, so much the better for the kids. Similarly, in situations where parents have split up, if they manage to be considerate and kind to each other, they role-model constructive communication, and save their kids the agony of split loyalties.

Being Fully Present
     I’d like to take this one step further, though: the benefit to a child of being cared for by someone who is fully present in their presence. The prospects of flourishing under the care of someone who is able to temporarily set their own issues aside are much higher than when the caregiver is absorbed in their own thoughts and issues. I’m not talking about putting the children center stage and spoiling them; I’m talking about being fully present with the children during the time you’re together. ‘Fully present’ means focusing on their world, their circumstances, their well-being; letting their needs take priority over the needs coming from outside the family circle; being accessible to them no matter what, and relating to them in a way they understand.
     Newly sprouted buds fare best when shielded from harsh circumstances for a while. Likewise, kids fare best when shielded from adult issues and concerns that are beyond their ability to grasp and deal with.
     If you are fully present with the children in your care, you give them the greatest gift there is to give. If, on top of that, you and the children’s other parent are able to communicate with each other respectfully, you give them a wonderful example te emulate as well. Should you be in the happy circumstance of loving each other and sharing fun moments together, your children are among the luckiest around!

Recommended Reading

To learn more about being fully present with your kids, you might want to read the following posts presented previously on

Mindful Parenting
What is the Goal of Child Rearing?
Finding Peace in Hectic Daily Life With Kids

This post was adapted for from 
an article previously published on the author's personal blog: 
My Kids Grow and So Do I

Images courtesy of photostock at

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