What do our kids actually need?
There’s a lot of confusion about what kids need. Do they need bouncy chairs, special toys, the latest and greatest technology gadget, or fancy clothes? I would argue that those are wants, not needs. Kids need love, safety, community, and a place to be themselves. We buy fancy stuff for them because we feel they need it, we feel it will build confidence, or we feel that they will get upset if they don’t have it. We spin on whether kids might not keep up to times with technology if they don’t have a device and we worry about whether they will be able to code… But do you really think that this is the case? Do you think that getting stuff is the answer? I think you get the picture that “stuff” has not been the answer to happiness in our family.
We find that we need family time. We need conversations, adventures, reading, biking, traveling and more. Our kids need purpose and they need to know that their purpose is part of the greater whole. I once heard that family chores were called “family contributions.” I loved how that change in words, expressed how we are a whole, everyone participating working towards a common goal, guided with clear responsibilities that are appropriate for each of us, where we are in life.
Now this is the real world and I am not able to give my kids all my attention, all the time everyday, but we do prioritize making family time present in our everyday. Kids need our undivided attention, when appropriate. Kids need boundaries. Kids need freedom. Kids learn so much from observation… so beware what you do does matter and it might actually matter more than what you say. Kids can teach us when we truly are open to observe them openly and without bias. Kids need lots and lots and lots of movement and they need time outdoors, especially when it is not structured by adults. Kids need quality food and nourishing sleep. Kids need to feel included, not only in games, but in every day tasks and family decisions. Kids play an infinite number of roles in our lives. They are the student and the teacher, the observer and the observed, and the speaker and listener.
So there is my answer at the current moment… I will revisit this regularly to make sure that I am meeting and exceeding my kids needs to the best of my ability. Answering this question has helped me face my feelings when I don’t get my kids a cell phone, or the newest fashion of clothing, or the latest toy. I tend to think that my attention to their internal well-being has to come first.