If you consider that you probably start reading bedtime stories to your youngster when they’re about 6 months (ok – some of us started reading to the ‘bump’ but bear with me) and you’re likely to end at around 6 years old when you transition to listening to them read to you; that works out at just on 2000 bedtime stories.
Every one you miss, is gone forever…
Whilst I can tell my teens stories, and when camping or sometimes around the dinner table I get to. I can’t replay the 3 weeks of reading bedtime stories I missed because I was preparing a sales proposal, or was entertaining my boss.
And yes, from an educational PoV, I can play them MP3’s or CD’s. Yet all the studies show that kids listening to a recorded story simply don’t do as well as those whose parents read to them.
That’s because it’s not about the story. It’s about the relationship.
Relationships are messy, organic, not task driven. This isn’t a check-box to tick off. Sometimes it’s a quick retell at a friends house before putting them down in the spare room. Sometimes it’s 3 stories and a bunch of interminable questions. Sometimes it’s laughing so hard milk comes out your nose. Sometimes it’s just laying quietly listening to music together.
So take off your watch, & slow down to their time. This allows you to build that deep relationship that lasts into their teens. It allows them to ask you the questions they’re pondering. It builds the communication channel for them to come to you when they’re confused, or scared, or hurt, or anxious, or elated through the turmoil of adolescence. And like a plant, this channel doesn’t magically appear. It takes years of nurturing, careful watering, occasional pruning, constant praise, and the sunlight of love.
Even then you only get 10% of the relationship with your 13-18 year old that you had with your 3-8 year old. There’s no such thing as quality time without quantity time first.
So despite what you think, your priority is to enjoy as much time with them as you can.
Oh, and it’s for you too. The thing I miss most about my grown-up daughters are the bedtime stories I sacrificed for projects and study. On balance I’ve forgotten more about Windows for Workgroups than I ever needed, but every investment of time with my daughters has repaid 100-fold.
If they’re already teens, make stories together…
…a topic for another night!