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By Dr. Peter Nieman
Over the past 16-months I have had the privilege and opportunity to share with the visitors to this web site, specific medical advice and facts about keeping children healthy.
Today, I want to talk about something that is based on common sense more than science per se ---the importance of deliberately making the time to get to know our children better.
Over the past two weeks I’ve had a soul-searching experience of being with my four children every hour of the day. Taking them with us on a vacation to sunny Mexico confirmed a valuable truth: If one really wants to get better at anything, there are no short cuts; nurturing true growth takes time.
Unfortunately many parents are so busy trying to make ends meet that they have little time left to be with their kids. Best-selling author, Josh McDowell, commented that love is spelled T-I-M-E. How true that is.
The more one learns about what makes one’s children “tick” the better one can meet their needs, anticipate their many moods and develop their talents.
Some dynamic adults survived a childhood void of parental support. I know of a man in his sixties--- well-respected and deeply influential world-wide--- who tells a story of how his dad always wore a suit, but never attended his Friday night games played under the bright spotlights of a Texas football stadium. To this day it bothers him deeply. However, his faith in God and a resilient personality have kept him from becoming bitter.
Not all adults are so fortunate……I read somewhere that when prisoners were allowed to send cards to their mothers on Mother’s Day, the company who donated the cards ran out of supplies. The Hallmark Company then decided to learn from that experience. On Father’s Day they had twice as many cards ready to be send to fathers.
This time they were even more surprised. Only one prisoner requested a card.
The story reminded me that fathers, often the busiest parent in the family, need to be extra careful in finding the time to be with their children.
A study from Columbia University in New York City revealed that when fathers and their sons were close, emotionally and relationally, the risk of the son developing a drug addiction, ending up in jail, plummeted to less than 0.5 %; when the relationship between father and son was bad, the risk climbed well into the double digits.
As I walked on the beach over the past few days with my kids and admired the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, I thought of these points:
- How many parents know the color of their child’s eyes?..... 99%/?…. more than half, or less than half?
- How many dads know the birthday of each child—without consulting a day timer or Palm Pilot?
- How many parents go beyond taking photographs, recording visual memories, but fail to record any written words by keeping a diary. These words will last longer than the spoken word. Imagine a child becoming a parent one day and then reading some words of love and respect penned by his or her own parent many years ago?
- What will matter more over time: Things or memories which cannot be stolen or lost?
Just writing these words make me realize I have to end now—there are four kids waiting for me to take them outside for fresh air; for a walk on the ocean shore’s soft sands. There we will look, together, at a sinking sun silhouetting the palm trees swaying in the evening’s gentle breeze.
About Dr. Peter Nieman
Dr. Peter Nieman has been practicing as a specialist with children for more than twenty years and has been a pediatrician in Alberta since 1987. In addition to his medical experience, he is also a parent who recognizes the challenges of raising healthy children.
Dr. Peter Nieman obtained his undergraduate degree at Tygerberg Hospital in Capetown, South Africa in 1979. He moved to Calgary in 1983 and completed his residency at Alberta Children's Hospital. In 1987, Dr. Nieman became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Pediatrics).
Dr. Peter Nieman is a pediatrician at Alberta Children’s Hospital and Rockyview General Hospital, as well as a member of the Alberta Pediatric Association, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He currently serves on the National Advisory Committee on Physical Activity and Healthy Active Living for Children and Youth and the Canadian Pediatric Society's Psychosocial Committee. He has been part of the Obesity Management and Prevention Committee of the Alberta Medical Association and sat on the Academic Advisory Board of the National Foundation for Family Research and Education. Dr. Nieman teaches as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary and is a regular medical contributor to newspapers and radio and television broadcasts.
Dr. Peter Nieman has completed 38 marathons, including two Boston Marathons. Dr. Nieman is also Husband and father of four young children.
Dr. Nieman runs HealthyKids.ca, an online service dedicated to helping concerned parents raise healthy children. DLTK visitors are entitled to a complimentary one-year subscription to HealthyKids.ca by using the coupon code: DLTK.