The cornerstone of all parenting programs is to teach parents about spending quality time with their children. I once promised myself that one way to achieve this is to simply say yes to any suggestion of the child at any time for a common activity. Even if it isn’t just then, you can always say “I’d love to“, and tell the child she exactly you can do it. Whatever, but say yes. And do it, it often turns out to be more fun than you thought.
This works out very well with a seven-year-old who wants to play chess or an 11-year-old that wants to read her newest story to me. But what about the fourteen-year-old oyster who grunts at best as a response and spends most of her time watching series in a dark room? She is clearly not interested in my sort of “quality time”. Whenever I enter the room I am advised about the whereabouts of the door. Useful information when the next sentence is: “Out!”
But the other day I came up with the genius idea that every day at 9.15 p.m. I am going to enter her room, sit on her bed and spend 5 minutes in the room. For those minutes she is asked to turn off her computer screen and put away her phone. “Can we agree on that?”, I asked on the day of my idea. “Maybe, maybe not…” Her new favourite expression. In teenageian it means “Fine, it sounds like I’ll need to give you this one, although I am declaring I disagree”.
Yesterday I knocked at exactly 9.15. “It’s nine fifteen, I said, Mommy-time!” She couldn’t really hide the little smile in the corner of her mouth. I don’t know that we made a lot of conversation, but she put her phone down and didn’t leave.
I sat there on the bed and told myself that is she can give me five minutes of her time, I can give her five minutes of NOT telling her off because of the state of her room or not having practiced her maths. Given that I spend 90% of the time I talk to her making those kinds of comments, five minutes is a welcome brake – for both of us.
I am looking forward to 9.15 p.m. today. Maybe, some time soon, she will too. If nothing else, she accepts that tiny slot of time to be spent with me. Maybe she will even mind if she doesn’t hear that knock on her door when I am away.