Parenting requires presence

Saturday March 21 2020

Min Atek

Min Atek 

By Min Atek

The clip has been doing the rounds. A father is facilitating a session with men and they are discussing sensitive issues of handling teenagers.Recently, I was thinking about how parents are fervently warned about what is called the ‘terrible twos.’
I do not recall experiencing challenges out of raising a two-year-old toddler, but I must admit I was not quite prepared to deal with the interesting phase a parent goes through when raising teenagers.
That laying a bed is not a first, second or third priority and that it is easier to hide or dodge doing one’s homework, when previously that was not a problem. As I watched the clip, one could not help but cringe with sadness as this father questioned his parenting style and skills because his 14-year-old had taken his own life.
Another parent wondered how a parent would know when to be engaged if the child often said they were fine. There is that ‘I am fine’ which everyone gives even when they are not fine.How do you deal with moods swings? Often times, the moody child is the fights for attention and yet it can be quite exasperating giving attention to a moody person. You will ask your once bubbly child, ‘how are you?’ And the curt response will be, “fine.” “How was school today,” expecting a bit of a story and you will get the same curt response, “fine.”
That alone will send the parent to fend for more pressing needs and yet that fine was probably not fine. So how is a parent supposed to know the difference? History teaches that the simple answer is in being present, persistent and committed. There will be clues and hints you will only pick by being present and consistently present.
This journey is interesting. A friend told me she hates parenting books because the pieces of advice therein does not work. What works for one parent might not necessarily work for another, but we must all agree that it is essential to be present.
The present parent navigates a lot more successfully than the absent one.
But how does one commit to being present when there are many other pressing needs? The answer lies in setting priorities. The worst feeling in the world is the feeling of regret. I will make an effort to be present. Will you?