On my daily walk routine I see many situations that trigger my mind into what I convey through this blog. Today I saw a mother taking her little boy, perhaps 5-6 year old, for a walk in the adjoining park beside our house. The little kid was cavorting along in his own delight, but what I noticed also was that the mother was walking meters behind absolutely engrossed in conversation on her phone, all attention totally focused on the chatter rather than the child. For the half an hour or so she was there, she did not let go the phone for a moment, except to pat the kid on the head whenever he moved by her periodically on his meandering frolic along the grass and on the walk path. What I gathered from this spectacle is perhaps not an isolated event in consideration of most of us who go about in our effort of spending quality time with our children. We hear a lot about the neglect of children by our protracted absence from home and family as a result of work or leisure habits, and the effect it has on the psychological make up of our children. Many of us hear and accept the idea of quality time as an increasing necessity, but fail to act on this acceptance in any meaningful way.
Quality time is about connecting. Quality time spent with our children is one of the most potent solutions at our disposal as parents to have the budding links that nature has endowed in us to build our psychological make-up connected so that we grow as balanced human beings fully resilient and ready for the adult world. This kind of self confidence is built through nurturing these connections in childhood. And a society is built up by the confluence of such adjusted individuals. Values, mores and acculturation are learned during this bonding process, translating ultimately into what is known as love – sharing without expecting. This is true maturity that brooks no puerile callings of the ego. Thus, our emotional make up is patently built on how well we have made true bonding happen.
For a child growing up, the responsibility for nurturing this is on parents. In the case I describe here, the mother who was on the phone may have had a mistaken notion of quality time. For her, the time she stayed with the kid seemed enough for having done her motherly duty – that of spending time with her child. But it would not be effective, unless the communication between them happened; interacting as if her child was the only thing that mattered for that moment and not the voice on the other end of the line should have been the condition here. Such is the process of bonding and it does not happen passively. I am sure there must be many such examples that will demonstrate our mediocre efforts towards child care, doing just enough, expecting that we have done our duty. We’ve all been children once upon a time, and perhaps some of us never really grow up (mentally) either. That must have some bearing on how we had experienced our childhoods. So with that knowledge and awareness of hindsight, let’s make new efforts to nurture a more caring nation of Maldivians for the future. We all need this feeling of being wanted and appreciated, and loved ultimately.
So let me say that quality time is not a measure of the chronological time we spend with our loved ones, but the timelessness we make these precious moments out to be. Yes, it would be good to get out to the park or to the beach with our kids but can we keep our phone switched off for that moment?