Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 7, 2005, Herald Journal

Time is the best gift for children


As you all know, the legendary and ultimate talk show host and entertainer Johnny Carson died recently. I was saddened by this news, as I’m sure millions of people were.

I grew up with Johnny Carson in my home. He was always there at the end of the day to put a smile on people’s faces, including mine.

Recently, talk show host Jay Leno paid tribute to Carson. Carson’s “sidekick,” Ed McMahon, was part of this tribute show.

McMahon shared his recollection of when he and Johnny made their first appearance together on the Tonight Show. Right before they were to go on stage, McMahon remembered asking Carson, “What do you see as my part?”

Carson responded with, “I don’t even know what my part is – let’s just go entertain the hearts out of the people.”

And the rest is history.

That got me thinking about what kids really want from their parents and caregivers. They really don’t want any fancy stuff or big plans for getaways (though they enjoy that, too), but what they really want and need is just to spend time with their parents – be it playing a game, reading a book, or playing in the snow. Plain, precious time with their loved ones is probably the best thing we can give our children.

The best way, sometimes, to connect and spend time with your child is to enter his world and do the things that he likes to do. There’s a saying that if you want to understand your child’s world, you have to play with them, no matter how old they are.

So, let’s just take some time and entertain the hearts out of our children. They will forever think that we are their legends and their ultimate entertainers. They really will.

Quality time with older children

As children get older, it can be more difficult to “play” with them. On the web site www.christian-parent.com, Rachel Paxton states that just being around the same influences your teens, and any children for that matter, are around, and taking an interest in their activities, lets them know that you care and that you understand what they deal with from day to day.

Here are some suggested ways you can spend time with older children:

• Get involved in the fundraising activities with your son or daughter that he or she may have to participate in for a certain activity.

• Be involved in school activities. When they’re younger, there are field trips, class parties, etc. you can possibly be involved with; and when they get older, there are activities like school plays, bake sales, etc. where you can show your support to your son or daughter by lending a helping hand.

• Attend sporting events. As children get older, it may seem like they don’t care if you are there or not, but it is important to them, even if they don’t say so.

• Help your child with school projects and take an interest in their school work. Don’t do the work for them, but give them feedback on ideas and such.

• Be involved in youth church activities with your son or daughter. Help chaperone an activity. By experiencing the same things your child is experiencing, it gives you some commonality and sharing ground for discussions and connectedness.

Support your children and be there for them.

‘Undivided’ time

If you have more than one child, it can be difficult to spend some one-on-one time with each child.

One great way to accomplish this is to alternate allowing each child a different night of the week to stay up a little longer (even 15 minutes longer) than the other siblings, and use that time to give some undivided time and attention to that child. They will look forward to that special night for that special time between just you and them.

Fun activities

Here are some suggestions for activities to do with your children:

• Winter activity: You will need black paper or fabric (place in freezer) and a magnifying glass.

Take the black paper or fabric out of the freezer and take it outside when it’s snowing. Let some snowflakes land on the paper and quickly use the magnifying glass to see the beautiful shapes.

This idea is from the web site, www.mb.ec.gc.ca.

• Wagon ride: Tie a 12-inch piece of string through the handle of a laundry basket and turn it into a wagon. Let your child pull some stuffed animals around the room.

• Gather up a bunch of different adult shoes and some adult clothes (including some hats, socks, and whatever your closet will allow) and have the children race putting on different shoes and clothes (e.g. stipulation - they have to have one shoe and one sock on each foot, but socks and shoes do not have to match; or a hat, and a dress or pants and a shirt – use your imagination and set different silly rules, like two socks on each foot, etc.).

I gathered up some of my husband’s and my old clothes and shoes, etc. and stored them in a basket. My children love to do different activities with these clothes, from performing on “stage” to dressing up and racing.


“Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

– Jesse Jackson

Have a great and entertaining week!