How to Parent with Presence

Date: April 8, 2020 l Author: Mariana Caro, LCSW

The most precious gift that we can give our children is our presence. In the midst of the busyness of life, finding time for connection can seem impossible. There’s school, work, homework, chores, dinner, extracurricular activities, bedtime routines, and more. It’s easy to mistake time together as quality time of connection, so we replace presence with busyness. Instead, I want to challenge you to carve out time every day, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes of intentional present moment connection with your children.

Here’s how:

  • Put your phone and computer away
  • Get physically on their level
  • Make eye contact with them
  • Name and acknowledge their feelings – listen with your eyes, your ears, your gut
    • Is something in their life causing stress, uncertainty, change? Are they feeling disappointed or sad about something? Be present in those feelings – try not to fix them, simply be with them
    • Are they very excited about something? Are they eager to show you something new they did? Match that excitement and join them in their joy
  • Play games together
  • If you can, try to use imaginative play
  • Be creative together – make up new games, with new rules, and let your children choose those rules

By being present in relationship, we get a front row seat into what’s happening in our kids’ lives. This presence is especially critical in times of uncertainty, grief, and transition. Talk to your kids about what is happening. Use age-appropriate language, but talk with them. Presence is vulnerable, which is part of why we run from it with busyness. Be prepared for this to feel uncomfortable if stillness and connection are hard for you. I invite you to lean into that. On the other side of that discomfort is connection and relationship that brings about healing, both for our children and for us as adults.