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What do kids really need from us?

April 17th, 2009 / 5 Comments

I love to read. I just finished reading a book that my sister recommended, Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah, a true story of her life.

Adeline was born in the 30’s and grew up in an affluent family in China.  As the youngest of five, their mother died after giving birth to Adeline. Carrying the stigma of causing her mother’s death, Adeline was an unwanted child. Her father remarried a proverbial evil stepmother – beautiful on the outside, mean on the inside. The rejection Adeline received intensified.

Throughout Adeline’s life, all she wanted was acceptance from her father. Even after she became a prominent medical doctor with prestige and property of her own, she searched for her father’s lost will, not for the money that she might inherit, but just to find if her name was included in the will as proof that she was accepted by her father.

I think that more than any material possession we can give our children, the one thing they really need is our love and acceptance.

In today’s economy when money is tight, I know parents are under a lot of pressure to provide for their children.  The kids want the latest game system, or money for movies with their friends.  Even snacks at McDonald’s can add up quickly.

But don’t feel bad when you have to say No to their requests for money. The lack of material goods can be more than made up with our affection and affirmation to them.

A few years ago, the house I grew up in Pasadena was on the market for sale. Curious, I made an appointment to look at it. It is a 3 bedroom house, 2 bathrooms, less than 1,300 square feet. In my adult eyes now, the house looked incredibly small. How did a total of 7 people – the 4 of us kids,  plus mom and dad, and for several years, my cousin lived with us – fit in the single story home?

But in my memories, it was not cramped at all. Maybe everything seems big to a small child. I grew up very happy in that house. Size did not matter.

What do kids really need? Do they want their parents to work all day in order to buy a bigger house? Do they really want you to spend less time with them and buy more toys instead?

Children really do not need much materially. No matter what we have to deprive our children, make sure it’s not our attention, our affirmation, our support, and our hugs.

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  1. This is so true. I’m always sad when I see parents who are just busy all the time and complete workaholics with no time for their kids… children would rather have the love and attention than to be showered with gifts.

  2. Busy parents mean well. But if we can think about what it was like when we were kids, or put ourselves in our children’s shoes, I think we would be better parents.

  3. Oh, this is so true. I am so thankful that I can be home for my children.

  4. I know it is unavoidable for some moms to work. Adjusting their lives to slow down in other ways can fill the gap. We do not have to be super mom. Time is the most important gift we can give our children.

  5. Current economic situation makes it hard for moms to quit their jobs but on the other hand we know that our children need our presence, not money. But we need money not only for food but for the childrens good education as well. It’s a dilemma.


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