As exhausted as she was, she put in the extra effort. “Never mind if I’m tired, I’ll do it for my hubby,” she thought to herself. She wore attractive clothing and jewellery, applied perfume, prepared his favourite meal and dessert and even lit candles, hoping to please her husband by making it a ‘special evening’. Sadly, as soon as he entered, let alone appreciate and admire, and let alone a simple smile and a hug – he didn’t even spare her a second glance! He walked in, glued to his phone, absolutely oblivious to the loving wife who had eagerly awaited him all day. At that moment, her bubble burst and her heart was broken…
After reading the above, most people would be quick to condemn the husband’s behaviour and classify him as insensitive, callous and uncaring. Now, consider the following:
“Mommy! You know what aapa told us today?” Faatimah excitedly exclaimed as she ran in from madrasah. “Not now Faatimah! I’m busy!” her mother snapped while frantically typing on her phone.
“Daddy! See what I made for you with my blocks!” Muhammad said, hopping with happiness. “Can’t you see that I’m on the phone?” his father scolded in irritation.
In all the cases above, a person turned to someone that they love, hoping and expecting to receive warmth, love, attention and acceptance, and were instead brushed off abruptly and painfully ignored. Just as a wife feels hurt when her husband treats her indifferently, children similarly feel hurt when their parents treat them in this way. If the husband is guilty, the parents are also guilty and deserving of condemnation.
In such a child’s eyes, his parents love their phones more than him as they cannot even put it down for a few minutes to give him attention and love. When the child sees that his parents have bonded with their phones more than with him, it is unsurprising that he develops a fascination with the phone and also wishes to acquire one to bond with. If it is not the phone occupying the parents, then regardless of what it is, it causes hurt and pain to the child – especially when it happens on a continuous basis.
As fathers and mothers, we need to understand that parenting is not an eight-to-five occupation where we can knock off for the day, thereafter ignoring all responsibilities of the work place until the next morning. As parents, we can never feel, “I gave my children enough attention today, now it’s my turn to relax and I do not want them to disturb me or bother me.” We are on duty 24/7, and whenever our children come to us, we must show them warmth, love and attention. Failing to do so creates a serious complex in the child, affecting their emotional wellbeing and causing them to develop a dangerous craving for attention.
When the wife is displeased with her husband for ignoring her, then due to her intelligence and age, she will be able to express herself with words or even tears. In the case of the child, he does not know how to communicate his need via words. Instead, when he desperately craves the attention and love of his parents, he looks for other ways to gain it – or he will seek the love from outsiders.
Children are simple souls and do not understand diplomacy and tact. If a child wants a toy from another child, he will often snatch it without thinking twice. Likewise, when the parents do not give the child the attention that he wants, he tries to ‘snatch’ it from them. This often manifests in the form of naughty behaviour such as breaking things, tantrums, etc., as the child knows no other way to draw his parents’ attention.
How sad that the child has to resort to this behaviour simply to make his parents look at him!
Unfortunately, this plan backfires. The child is given attention – but in the form of scolding, punishment, etc., and this further entrenches the complex and craving within the child. The parents then lament and complain about the behaviour of their children, failing to realise that it is actually a shout for help from a child who is starving for love and knows no other way to express himself.
The next time our child comes to us, even if it may be to show us a flower they picked in the garden, or a ‘picture’ that they scribbled with crayons, or to tell us something silly that their friend told them, or to show us their toy, let us not burst their bubble and break their hearts. Let us take out a few moments to give them our undivided love and attention.