You Won't Regret the Time You Spent

Sep 07, 2014

My three children are adults now.  I am fortunate to be able to say the kids are OK.  I know that some of this is due to hard work and dedication while a good bit of it is due to extremely good luck.  I am also fortunate to be able to say that I don’t have a lot of regrets about my parenting.  But if I did have it to do over again, there is one thing I would definitely do differently.  I would spend more time with each of the children individually, maybe even giving up some of that much-celebrated family time in favor of time spent focused on each child.

In working with children and their parents for a number of years I see that this is what each child craves.  Even when teenagers are pouting, difficult or defiant, often the insecurity underneath this behavior is lessened by time spent in the company of their parents without any competition from other family members or friends. 

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This can be time spent without an agenda and preferably without judgment or criticism.  It can take many forms.  It can be as simple as watching a favorite TV show together or as elaborate as taking a weekend trip out of town with a parent. 

I knew a father of five who managed to routinely spend one on one time with his kids. On Saturday, for example, he would quietly pull aside one of the kids and say “Do you want to go on a treasure hunt?”  He didn’t make a big deal of it but he and the child would quietly slip out of the house.  The “treasure hunt” of course, was comprised of a number of ordinary Saturday errands such as the hardware store, an oil change for the car, maybe a haircut for either dad or kid followed by lunch or maybe an ice cream cone. These trips created opportunity for each of his children to connect and feel supported by dad.  Many moms, who feel they are running a taxi service for their families, will tell you that one of the benefits of all this car time is the opportunity to hear what’s on their children’s minds.  Something about sitting sideways to a parent rather than straight across from them can make adolescents more willing to talk about life’s ups and downs.

Good suggestions for how and when to spend time with your adolescent can be found at

The job of adolescents is to separate from their families and become adults. But in order for this to happen, teenagers have a lot to learn about the world and their own values. Parents can facilitate this by spending time talking and hanging out with their kids without the distractions of others. When they are grown and gone I guarantee it will be those moments of connection that you will remember.  You won’t regret the effort to spend one on one time with your child.

If you need help connecting with your child or if you are concerned about other parenting issues, contact us at Embark Counseling.


Diane Melancon

Diane is a Partner with Embark Counseling get in touch with her at

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