I thoroughly enjoyed being raised in a home with my mom and sisters. I carry special memories that cause my heart to smile. Although it was a home full of girls, our needs were quite diverse. My mother had to make certain accommodations to make each of us feel like a priority. As the mom of two daughters, I am beginning to learn how valuable this lesson is. One would think with children, girls especially, we can share in all of the same activities and each child will feel important and validated. However, my girls couldn’t be more opposite. I have one who loves books, laptops and writing. Then I have another who’s focused on accessorizing, wearing glittery nails and staying up to date on the latest fashion trends.
Because they don’t share the same interests, my quality time with them has to also be different.
Sometimes it might seem as though family time is good enough. The truth is, children need individual time with their parents. They need to feel special and not just be told they are special. As an adult, I know I’m a priority when I am listened to and when what I have an interest in is also important to that other person. The same is true for children. My girls love sharing something from their world with my husband and me. I love experiencing their excitement. Hearing their voices rise as they share what’s important to them reminds me of why I love being a Nigerian mom so much. Even when I sometimes have to suggest they slow down, so I can get it, it’s still a magical moment.
One of my top goals as a Nigerian parent is to demonstrate my appreciation for my daughters’ individuality more often.
If you’re like me and this is your goal, here are 6 ways to make your children feel special:
1. Create a monthly or weekly outing, activity or TV show which just the two of us will participate in.
2. Turn off the technology sometimes and completely focus on what our children are telling us.
3. Respect their choices (when it’s not harmful) by listening to what’s most important to them. Once, my youngest daughter wanted to wear her bang straight up in the air instead of flat on her head. As painful as it was for me, I allowed her to. Not only was it empowering for her, it confirmed her voice mattered.
4. Have date nights. In a marriage, date nights keep a couple connected and provide a break from all the busyness. It does the same for children. It can be as elaborate as fine dining, or simple like a movie or talking over froyo (frozen yogurt.)
5. Chaperone a few field trips. This is a great way to make my daughter feel special in front of her friends. Scheduling time off work and making myself available just for her, let’s her know she’s a priority.
6. Invite their friends over and get acquainted with them. My mom was always the favorite amongst the other parents when I was coming up. She made even my friendships feel special by getting to know the people I spent time with.
I’m so grateful for my childhood. My goal is to create those same amazing memories for each of my daughters.