Making time for the things that matter

Carpe diem! Seize the day! - Horace

FOR a steadily increasing number of people who are intent on finding meaning in life—time has eclipsed money in importance. In America as in anywhere else on earth where time is equated with money, there is a tendency to trade each hour for the relentless pursuit of the trappings of an economically successful life. What we do has become what we are. And yet, the truth of the matter is that not all our hours are billable.

For immigrant parents with younger children, one of the best things to give of yourself is having more free, unscheduled, unencumbered time with them so that you can make yourself available to them, without having to put them on schedule as though accommodating them in your already crowded appointment book.

In the eighties and nineties of the past century, the idea of “quality time” meant that since there was only a limited amount of time to spend with children, a busy parent “squeezed” as much as could be squeezed out of spending an hour or two or an afternoon with his children once in a great while. While spending limited quality time was definitely better than being an absentee parent altogether, there is  still no substitute for spending real“quantity time”  with children, even if it means merely hanging out with them.

There is a vast array of things that children are offered to learn outside of school—activities that by themselves are intended to prime and prepare them for success in their adult lives, to make them more intelligent, more artistic, more poised with greater self-esteem, more athletic and basically more well-rounded supposedly to be able to compete in the real world. The focus of these activities is on the future rather than the present moment. Try not to rob them of the joy of the moment in the name of the future.

Well-meaning but basically misguided immigrant parents tend to overcompensate and stretch themselves to give their  children the advantage they themselves did not have.  Some push their children onto too many activities to give them an edge for the outside world at some future date. As promising as these activities may seem, one needs to achieve a sense of balance and understand if the tendency to do so is a personal response to a sense of insecurity. It could be that parents  are merely sublimating their inadequacies and imposing these on the lives of their own children. It is not necessary to enlist children in each and every activity that promises to give them an edge.

Spending real time with children and kicking back can yield even more tangible results in improved relationships and a better quality of family life.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail

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