|Hello. We are Jay and Betsy...and we are addicted to attention.|
I recently discovered that when I started working part-time this summer, without even realizing it, I slipped into a known "no-no". I have been child-focused in the afternoons. I hurry and make sure all my "work", both house work and work-work, is finished before they come home from school so our afternoons together are uninterruped...which in the moment seemed "right".
If my children were babies...or even toddlers...this would be okay. However, since they are not babies or toddlers...the timing was off on my new-found time. They are at the age where they should be needing me less, not more.
The trouble is, with the flexibility of my new schedule and my internal feelings about having a Kindergartener, I have been setting up an environment where they need me more...In turn, making us all selfish. In the afternoons we have been reading together, doing workbooks together, going on walks together, talking about our day together, baking together, singing and dancing together...
While all of these things seem wonderful, it is hours each day together...Yes, too much love and attention (in an older child) can be counterproductive. They need play time...in our own house and own yard...with me nearby...but not involved. I need to show them I love them by being near and available when needed, but not child-centered. They need time to discover things. Time to be children...be imaginative, create, build, dance, sing without a cheering section (me!). They need to see me doing things for others...or for myself...and not them.
In the words of Nanny McPhee, "When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. When you want me, but do not need me, then I have to go."
I need to teach them that they are loved...deeply, by me and God...without them thinking that constant attention=love. I want them to see that there are many ways to give and receive love...and being self-centered is not the way to fill that void.
Up next: Attention Addiction Part Two: How I came to this revelation.