The over compensating parent
Do parents replace quality time with material things?
We live in a world where most parents are busy and they don’t have time to parent. That is a reality we’re facing. The single parent household is on the increase and we see many parents outsourcing their parenting responsibility. Yes, the nannies do most of the work because mom or dad is busy.

How does one strike a balance or make the child feel cared for? We over compensate and try and go an extra mile to fill the void we think that our children are feeling due to our absence. Leaving home in the early hours of the morning and coming back in the evening can make a parent feel guilty about having spent time away from the children. Not that the parent has an option because she needs to put food on the table. Let’s hear from two families who admit to guilt parenting:

Katekani, a single mother of two
. She holds a top position at work. She is a single parent but tries to make it work. Her children have access to the finer things in life because their mother works hard. They live in a big house, have a driver, have the latest gadgets and go on the best holidays when Katekani finds time to be away from work.

Without the help of her nanny she would not have managed to do it all. She is aware that she over compensates because she feels guilty of the time she spends away from her children. She eases her guilt by allowing her children access to material things. They have the latest digital gadgets to keep them busy. "The least I can do is to give them access to what they need since I am not there all the time". She hopes that one day when her children are older they will appreciate and see that they have a comfortable life due to her hard work. She says she does not really have a choice.

The Khumalos
run a successful business together which sees them travelling out of the country a lot of the time. The children also have access to the finer things in life. They also hope that their children can appreciate the life they have and see that they are exposed to the best even though their parents don’t get to spend enough time with them.

Mr and Mrs Khumalo have worked hard to be where they are. They were never exposed to the finer things in life growing up but want to make it a point that their children have the best in life and access to the best which is- educations, home, cars, holidays, clothes. “We work hard because we want to make their life easy, they do not have to start from scratch like we did and we hope that they will appreciate our efforts one day".

As a parent myself I think that as long as you make the best of the time you have with your children when you have some time. Yes, this comes with sacrifices. I know of a CEO who once declined a lucrative assignment because it was going to take her away from her children. In all that we are busy with lets also evaluate the things that we do and not chase money to the detriment of the family life.

Balance is not easy but one can at least try. How about sitting down with your children and explain to them why you are not always available? Maybe that could work, start the conversation. I have started one and my son understands that I cannot watch his soccer practice or be an active parent at his school but when I have time I spend it with him. Let’s make an effort but not throw material things at them to ease our guilt.

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Do you find that you over compensate with material things because you're unable to spend time with your children?

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