Parenting in Focus: Parenting is a full-time job

Whether you work outside the home or not, parenting is a full-time job. No parent can afford to try to be an only weekend parent and ignore all that happens during the week.

Your child needs your attention. She needs to feel your involvement every day.

Here are some other things she needs from you:

• Help her move from place to place before she learns to crawl.

• Pay attention when she cries so you can comfort her.

• Spend time playing with her so she doesn’t spend her day watching television.

• Tell her how nice she was with sharing her toys with her friend today.

• Your attention, to tell her what a good job she is doing putting her toys away.

• Sing songs with her especially on her birthday.

• Be there to read a story to her, then another, and another.

• Dance with her; babies love to dance so turn on the music and have a whirling turn around the room, and it’s fun for both of you.

• Talk to her when she is a baby so she can learn to talk to you as a toddler.

• Bring her cups for play in the bathtub so she can pour water from cup to cup.

• Praise her about how brave she is on the playground equipment.

• Remind her to say “please” and “thank you” and generally be a polite person.

• Give her hugs throughout the day.

• Kiss her goodnight and tell her how special she is.

• Learn to trust. She learns this trust by having her needs met by you. When she cries, you come; when she’s hungry, you feed her; and when she is tired, you put her down to sleep.

When you nurture your child with affection and touch, and when you talk, read, and sing to your child, you’re creating brain connections. Without these many nurturing experiences, your child’s brain doesn’t make some of these important connections.

When you can’t be there to be the parent, make certain someone is parenting her throughout the day the way you want her to be parented.

Your role as a parent is far more important than it seems. If you miss some of the important hours, it is critical for you to make them up when you can be there.

As you become a better parent, your child becomes a healthier individual.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.