It was a typical day at school. I looked at the clock waiting for the minute hand to point to the 6, ending the day, nothing new. Rushing to grab our coats and backpacks my whole class acted like they had somewhere important to be. And we did.
That place was home.
I thought it was fun to ride the bus in elementary school. I sat by my friends and we joked about a game of dodge ball we had played in gym class, acting out in slow motion different people in our class getting hit with the ball, discussing who’s face we wanted to hit with the ball the most.
Even though I was the first to get off, I sighed in relief when I stepped off the bus. I felt calm and free, like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I could relax and really be me, without the judging eyes of my classmates.
Today, no one was home. Luckily, I didn’t loose my key like I’d done the week before, standing outside for an hour before someone could come home and let me in.
I walked into the house and everything was quiet. It seemed foreign and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I just stood there looking around with my backpack still on my back. It was a weird feeling, like I was in someone else’s house. I snapped out of it, and went into the kitchen.
Chips, cereal, a bagel, some pop, I felt sick from vegging in front of the TV wishing someone would have told me to stop.
Just a couple hours went by and my mom came home. She didn’t suspect from the way I quickly gave her a hug and said, “Hi mom,” that I’d missed her, but I did, and every time she was gone when I came home from school.
Although I wasn’t home alone very much, there are children who are always home alone;
they are latchkey kids.
That’s right everyone. Material things and money are the secret to happy kids!
Wait, something isn’t right here. Are children better off without their parents?
In studies of infants who are separated from their mothers, there are emotional as well as physical effects on the child. In studies of fatherless homes, the results are the same. Why do we think that it is any different with children who are sent to school all day and then come home to an empty house?
While the effects may be to a lesser degree, let’s not imagine those statistics away simply because children are getting attention from peers and teachers at school. It is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not the same.
We can not conclude on one hand that children need parental involvement for emotional stability and success and then take it back and say that they need the opposite when it effects companies’ bottom lines.
Corporate America would love to convince parents that they aren’t that big of a deal. Don’t be fooled. Children who are separated from their parents are not better off. Whether mom is gone, dad is gone or both, it makes a difference because parents make a difference.
In America, most houses have both parents working outside the home. A lot of the time it’s necessary, but let’s not pretend it’s ideal. The truth is, children thrive in the presence of their parents. It is biologically ingrained in us; the most powerful bond in the history of the world.
Of course, having our children along side us while we work from home isn’t a possibility for most. It’s a constant battle – juggling service to God, financial responsibility, family, friends, and our personal ambitions.
No matter who we are or where we work, a death bed confession for more money or more job opportunities isn’t common. Relationships are what we morn the most.
So although we may not be able to give all the time that we want, remember that every moment we have with our children makes a difference.