By Chris Marchioni, MD, Executive Director, Healthy Learning Paths
What is the most precious gift for kids this season? This is a question that many of us ask our family, friends, and search the web in pursuit of pleasing children of all ages with the latest, most coveted toys and gadgets. Some say it is the latest Star Wars toys and games, while others look to flying drones, and still others look for the newest smart phones, watches, or other technological advances. While these gifts may hold our children’s attention, what holds their hearts?
Each year, we work with more than a thousand children. What lights up their faces and fills their hearts does not come in a box and it is not wrapped with ribbons. What calms their fears and comforts them, when faced with the chaos of uncertainty that children are exposed to in today’s culture is love. Love that is simple and pure, such as being there to listen to a child who is hurt and lonely. Love that is kind, such as putting the mental and physical needs of the child above your own. Love that is patient and understanding, nonjudgmental and unconditional. Love that can only be offered by giving the gift of your time to children.
While it is easy to shower children with toys and gadgets, these are far from the most precious gifts, we have to offer children of all ages. These are not the gifts that fill a child’s heart or mind with peace and joy. Although, we may be led to believe the material gifts are what children seek most, this is only a result of magnificent marketing.
Have you ever asked a child what she or he treasures most? Just yesterday, one mother shared this story. “My company is down-sizing and I, unfortunately, am one of the employees that is being let go. I have a long history with my company, so I am worried about what opportunities are out there for someone my age. But then I hear the voice of my five year old daughter. She is asking if she can spend more time with me. Some days, she does not want to go to school because she wants to be with me. I can’t wait to tell her that in a few months, she will have more time with Mommy!”
The gift of time with your children is the most precious gift. Giving your time to children makes a lasting impression of love that fills your child’s heart for a lifetime!
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.” explains Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
Happy and Healthy Holidays!