Parenting…what a challenging yet blessed role that you are playing in your child’s life. Your child would be lost without you. You had little warning before being thrown into this role and now you carry the responsibility of providing for your child’s needs. Parenting goes beyond caring for your child’s physical needs. You also have the precious role of caring for your child’s emotional needs. This role can be compared to banking. Banking as we know it involves putting money into a bank (deposits), taking money out the bank (withdrawals) and earning interest (rewards). Emotional banking works in a similar way.
An emotional deposit into your child’s life requires you to give of yourself – your time and energy. These time periods involve really getting to know your child. Emotional deposits could be playing games, singing, holding hands, hugging, reading stories, talking about feelings or telling jokes. When I was 5 years old and my mother went back to work, I was very sad. She started something she called “Time”. Every day she gave me 15 minutes of her time during which I could choose what I would like to do e.g. make paper dolls.
Take a moment to ask your child a question and really listen to the answer. Your child may not be communicating with you because she is never invited to share her heart. She may be afraid that you have more important things to do. My grandmother was shy as a child and longed for her parents to ask her questions so she could talk to them.
When you make a bank deposit, you expect a reward. But emotional deposits are made with no motives of a reward for you as the parent. They are selfless and unconditional. Sometimes your child may not show appreciation or return your act of love. When Henry asked his son how his day was, his son replied “Ok” and refused to share more. Another day Henry’s son shared that he had been bullied at school.
Unfortunately, we often make emotional withdrawals as well. Withdrawals may come in the form of ignoring, criticising, lying, shouting, breaking promises or taking your child for granted. When you make too many emotional withdrawals and too few emotional deposits, your child is likely to either fight back or distance himself. Parenting is an on-going challenge and tiredness or stress is often used to justify making emotional withdrawals. Sometimes you may have a bad day and your child’s misbehaviour is the last straw. Sally was in trouble at work for making a wrong decision and arrived home feeling discouraged. When her daughter spilt juice she shouted at her and made her cry.
A healthy emotional bank balance results in warmth, safety and protection. May you continuously work at achieving a healthy bank balance in your child’s life. This is the best investment you will ever make.
Gena Lee Nolin once said: “My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning.”
Author: Sarah Alfond – Family Counselor and Parenting Facilitator.