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Maybe I'm too early to ask about this, since my status changed to be a father since 25 September ago.. But I'm very curious about this.

I learned from my surroundings (my friends family, my neighbours, etc) that their children (middle/high school) are mostly far more attracted to others than us as the parents. Their children are more attracted to TV, hanging out with their friends, playing video games rather than spending more time with the parents.

I think it's alright if the children can learn good values from those, but what they do not? Maybe this is not happening to all families... But I think the parent's enemies right now are those things (TV, video games, etc).

Why are they more attractive than us (as parents)? How do we make ourselves more attractive than those things?

I hope my questions are clear, since I'm not from US.

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Well, my experience is different (up to now), as our son, who is "only" nearly 4 years old,

  • does not have access to TV or video games etc. yet and
  • is very, very interested in spending time with us (his parents)

For older children I wonder:

  • What about the parents, you're talking about? Do they really want to spend more time with their children?
    Many parents may be happy to have some time for themselves and will probably not insist in spending more time with their children, if the children become more independent.

I think for children it is important to get autonomous and independent, and so it is one of the difficult and painful goals of youth and puberty to find one's own way and learn to become independent from the parents to build up one's own life.
(As well it might be difficult for the parents to let the children go and make their own decisions, which might be sometimes "wrong" - at least from parents' perspective).

Some ideas: IMHO if parents want to be or become (more) "attractive" for their children, they have to

  • be really interested in spending time with their children and working on their relationship
  • honestly make an effort to respect the interests and opinions of the children and not only impose on them activities that the parents would like
  • try to find activities which are inspiring and interesting for the children, give them possibility to learn and discover things and have fun together
  • be a positive role model (if the parents spend considerable time in front of the TV, why shouldn't the children?)
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I think your ideas list really covers it, sure parents can be attractive to kids but they have to want to be. Unless they make the effort there is no natural gravitation. –  MichaelF Oct 11 '11 at 12:57
    
And you have to have the energy to do all this. –  Lennart Regebro Oct 18 '11 at 12:19
    
@LennartRegebro: That's true - but IMHO for most people it's a question of priorities. –  BBM Oct 18 '11 at 14:47
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We naturally begin as the most interesting and important "things" in our children's lives. We are their world. The most important thing we can do to remain the center of their universe is to have them remain the center of ours. Our activities should center around interactions with our children, modeling the behaviors and activities we value. However, there will come a point that you will no longer be cool. I have see too many parents make the mistake as their children enter adolescence, you cannot be your child's buddy. It is important when they reach that stage to maintain your morals as well as your position as the parent. That is not to say you should stop doing things with your children just because they do not "like" the activities or seemingly do not like you. The truth is, I can recall countless family activities that I said I did not want to participate in as a teen that are among the best experiences of my life. Bottom line, thank goodness my parents made participation in family activities non-debatable.

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Avoid watching the television yourself and make the effort to play with/interact with your child. Do things you find fun with them.

That way you become a great role model for the behaviours you want.

If you tend to sit and watch TV without talking, that is exactly what they will end up doing.

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In young children it's likely that all that is needed is the parent's curious and focused attention. We should take the time away from undesired behaviors (like watching television) and give it to playing with our children.

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