Have you ever thought that having children was “incredibly liberating”? Toni Morrison, author of the Nobel Prize-winning Beloved, shared this comment in an interview on NPR, and I found myself immediately wondering, “Why?” Fortunately, she explained by replying, “All my children wanted from me was honesty, competence, a sense of humor and to be myself.” For her, that was “incredibly liberating.” What I came to understand is that Morrison was describing how children expect us to be our authentic selves with them. I would take that one step further and share that it is what children need and want from the adults in their lives. As most of us know, children can spot a phony a mile away.
As we enter the holiday break, it may be somewhat “liberating” then to remember that children really do not want or need extravagant gifts, trips or events; what they most want and need is, quite simply, you – their parents – relaxed, happy, laughing, being yourselves and enjoying time together as a family. Research actually supports that what children most want from their moms and dads is their time. So here is my wish for your family this holiday — that you create the gift of time to enjoy any of the following with your children:
- to read good books
- to “get down on the floor” and play
- to sing and dance whenever the mood overtakes you
- to walk in the woods where the only sounds are of birds overhead, leaves crunching beneath your feet, and the rhythmic breathing you all share as you move along the path
- to cook together, whether making special holiday treats or just fixing a good meal
- to catch up with family or friends whom you cherish like family
- to be together with no places to go or promises to keep – just the pleasure of each other’s quiet company
- to daydream
- to focus on what matters most
- to experience the “liberation” of just being yourselves and being together.
Have a safe, wonderful, restful holiday season!
Head of School