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Spending One-on-One Time With Our Children

People often ask us — observing the number of children we have — “How do you manage to spend (enough) one-on-one time with each child”.  Too often I go, “Ehhhh. . . .hmmmm. . . ok, well, we haven’t been doing one-on-one time with each kid because we haven’t had the need to yet.”  Now, not only do I sound ineloquent, I sound like a bad mother because after all, one-on-one time is essential.  How can I ensure that each child has his own individuality and not get mixed up in the midst of his siblings?  When I say that currently we don’t need one-on-one time, I get the sense that people don’t believe me.  Thus far we don’t have a system in place to ensure that each child gets mommy or daddy time, but I’m always watching and observing my children.  Whenever I see a child who is unusually out of control or get in trouble more often, that tells me that perhaps he needs more mommy or daddy time.  We have certainly taken each child on a date before and while some of those moments were precious, some weren’t as memorable.  I recall one time when I took my oldest to dinner, just the two of us.  I had anticipated a fruitful conversation, but it didn’t happen that way.  He was unusually quiet and as much as I tried to engage him, he just sorta nodded or shook his head and didn’t feel like engaging.  I remember being baffled and feeling a bit disappointed.  Finally, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go home.  So off we went and after he came home, he was his normal self again, happy and engaging with his siblings.

We are a family that does almost everything together.  We eat most meals together (a rare occasion for many families), we school together, we play together, we visit people together, we go to church together, we simply do life together.  We are very much part of one another’s lives.  I believe because we value each other so much that we don’t necessarily need one-on-one time as much.  I am certainly not opposed to spending one-on-one time, but I’m simply questioning whether if this one-on-one time concept is a bit overrated.

I really appreciate what fellow blogger (and friend) Kendra had to say in a recent post about one-on-one time.  She quoted homeschooling speaker Todd Wilson who offered the following which I thought was very insightful:

If you think about it, maybe it’s better to train our children that they can be special without having to be away from everyone else.

Really?!  Has this thought crossed people’s minds when asking this question?  Wilson suggested the following:

Although we do those things and you might implement them as well, you should not feel guilty because you just can’t seem to get them alone for one-on-one time very often. Instead, try making them feel special within a family context. I bet you could even do that today.

I absolutely agree!

Posted in Parenting.

2 Responses

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  1. Timothy Chan says

    Absolutely agree with Kendra’s comment. I do have a couple of further thoughts on this, as I also have this issue with my 3 children:

    1. I also pull one of them aside if things get out of control, but I also do not want all our \one-on-one\ time to mostly operate under the context of addressing discipline issues. In fact I’ve sensed that sometimes they do not want to be \one-on-one\ with me because they have the mindset that it’s about discipline. So I do try to do one-on-one play stuff with them. But even then, it’s usually within the house, and not like a special outside environment where they feel like a fish out of water.

    2. Each of my 3 children are very unique, and there are times when the way I interact with each of them needs to be quite different even in the midst of the same activity. I do try to make sure to love each of them uniquely, because they are each uniquely made by God.

  2. Breezy Point Mom says

    Don’t feel guilty about the lack of “one-on-one” time. I think that is a modern American concept born out of small families. Giving your children the gift of many siblings is far better, in my opinion. Like you, our family does life together — everything, and when Daddy is home from work, we still all do everything together, from church to grocery shopping, movies, and Ace hardware. It might not be that efficient, but it sure gives us a lot of time with Daddy!

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