The Arabic culture has a fierce loyalty to family, traditions and the strength of the family unit itself.
As with many other cultures, we evolve along with the rest of the world with the changing dynamics of education, technology and overall globalization. This also includes our own relationships within that family unit.
When we become parents, we can be involved in so many things. It can be work, friends, family obligations, our electronic devices and so many other areas that we sometimes put off seeing our children for the sake of what we want to accomplish ourselves.
This isn’t always a bad thing but we have become such a fast paced world now that our children are growing up before we even realize what has happened.
We only have memories or pictures to hold onto and I do believe that our heart skips a beat when we see those pictures of when they were younger, innocent and curious about the world and realize what we might have done well back then or what we could have done better.
When #KHDA and #ArabBabaThatsMe launched the #10Minutes10Days initiative with the support of #EmiratesLitFest, there was a hope that we might be able to tap into small moments of time that a parent can spend with a child and maybe open up a world together to celebrate #TheYearofReading.
The realization came in that not only did parents WANT to be involved, they wanted to show the world that they were involved and document it – in fact, it was pride! It wasn’t just about being on social media, it was about proving that #10Minutes10Days is nothing in the span of a parent/child relationship. When we read to/with our children, we actually tell them that we want to spend time with them. And, whatever way that they process what you are doing (whether that is a toddler or a 15 year old), it becomes a moment that will stay in their head forever (or perhaps until they become crazy teenagers – then I think all positive thoughts fly straight out the window).
This initiative was put in place to form a bond for just a small amount of time that we may not normally be able to do because of how busy we are.
What came out of this further was the conversations held with some Arabic parents being completely unsure of how to do this. They didn’t know how to just spend those 10 minutes reading or any amount of time doing something that wasn’t part of the familial obligations of just putting one step in front of another. It felt weird. They felt shy and it made little sense in some ways.
When we talked about this, it made me remember how my own father was. Although he was very loving and expressive to us, the idea of spending blocks of time ‘doing nothing’ (which is what it would have seemed like to him) when it could have been used taking care of more important areas of life was unknown to him.
We are Arabic and we are very proud of who we are as a society. There are also a lot of areas where we can improve in how we communicate to our own children, how we can value the time that we have with them before they become a distant memory or a faded picture in a drawer. I call this ‘SHOW-TIME’.
My kids know SHOW-TIME because we make it a point for them to know that at that moment, we are defining it and ‘showing them time’ is valuable with them.
If you were to yell to them ‘Show-Time’ they would know that we are around and it’s time for one on one time together.
#10Minutes10Days helps to reinforce that SHOW-TIME but can also facilitate the closeness that we can offer them as parents.
They see us doing so many things. There are so many balls that need to be juggled. When we put them as a priority, we can create that Arab connection that has the chance to change the world and help create a small dot of hope for the next generation.
Reading does just that and using a #10Minutes10Days approach gives you some ‘Show-Time’ to start with.
Mama’s and Baba’s out there, your priority in creating that connection should be constant but it’s all about how we can involve them in all of the balls that need to be juggled.
If you have to go shopping, take your older one(s) along. Get their help in choosing the right things and give them a list of items to get (all depends on the age). Stop off and have a coffee at the end and talk about if they thought it was hard or easy to do.
When they are reading a book for school, stop in with them for 10 minutes and ask them what the book is about and what they think about it.
With our 6 year old, we even play a game after school every so often where the only way I can get her to open up about her day is if we shift roles. I ask to be the student and she is the teacher. She can explain to me all of the stuff that they did that day (sometimes she even gives me a spelling test which is never a good idea!).
Baba’s, you need to go and wash that big car of yours, right? Why not take one your kids with you? Have a Karak along the way and have a chat.
An Arab connection doesn’t mean that we have to end up in some therapy session and use all touchy words. But it does mean that a child can know that we care about them and value them. As a parent, we are not allowed to make assumptions that your child knows we love them. We are not allowed to judge what their feelings ‘should’ be versus what they are. We don’t need to dig into their heads immediately especially when it’s not something we are familiar with ourselves and how we were raised. But your impact in just a few minutes, can change your child.
Consider your feelings when you were younger. Wouldn’t it be nice to have been with your parents for quality time and have seen them take a real interest in you and actually chose to spend time with you – even with an initiative like #10Minutes10Days. If they did are you doing now that with your own children? If they didn’t, would you want them to have that opportunity?
You have the chance to do that and they have the chance to see you through very different eyes.
We have a short time to provide the best possible future for them and if all it takes for you to start is #10Minutes10Days to improve that Arab Kid Connection – then we all have that time to spare.
We want to hear them. When we partner with you as parents and educators, we become stronger as a community and a collective family unit in the #UAE .