I have always felt it was important to give children one on one attention. But as parents though we know it would benefit our children as well as ourselves, it is sometimes difficult to do so in the run of our daily lives. Demands on time, routine and commitments, as well as other children, often pull us in many directions, not always toward our children.
There are lots of tips online on how to spend more one on one time with your children, make sure you acknowledge them when they come in the door afterschool, give them a hug, etc. but the main one is to consciously carve out time each week for each parent to spend some time with each child (which can still be challenging especially if you have lots of kids!)
I decided to do this with my oldest son, as I see him so much less than the twins and I knew that as he continued to get older if we did not maintain some form of connection that he would likely drift away, choosing to spend more time out or with friends. I wanted to nurture and maintain that connection so that at the very least, a solid foundation was laid for our relationship.
So for the past year or so Matthew and I have designated one night a week as Matthew and Mum night. This is a night where it is just him and I. We do it after his brother and sister are in bed and don’t allow anyone else to join in. We do any number of things, from play a board game, create/ cook something in the kitchen, or watch a show that we both enjoy. On the odd occasion, we’ll even go out and see a movie, dinner or grab a coffee.
Recently we have started watching Highway to Heaven starring Michael Landon (and also written and produced by him). Well known for his roles in Bonanza as Little Joe Cartwright, and Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, Michael brought magic to the screen. His series Highway to Heaven is a show about an angel who’s mission from God is to help different people with various trials and tribulations helping them see good or change their ways. These uplifting episodes always demonstrate the good in people and our world; and that sometimes we just get lost a little along the way. With Jonathan’s (Michael Landon’s) angelic guidance it always results in a tear jerking (have tissues on hand) episode that shows us the light in the world.
I suggested this show to Matthew after having various conversations with him. He was often telling me about this video game or that show, and they often had the theme of violence and death in them. Always a negative or what I considered dark theme or message. I wanted to show (and expose to) Matthew that there is more to our world than darkness and violence, balance things out and expose him to some good things, happy things. And show him how being helpful or kind (all themes of Highway to Heaven) can benefit not only others but yourself as well.
Matthew loved the show from the first episode. He laughed and smiled, enjoying it immensely. So much so that he immediately asked for another episode. If my 11 year old boy was enjoying this, then I knew it must be a hit!
I feel that we need more of these kinds of shows in our world today. So many of them are competitive and/ or violent, with any number of deaths on a show. Yes it is our ‘society these days ‘ but why can’t we produce more of the good stuff? I know people want it and I know it is out there. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone watch a show like Highway to Heaven and say what a nice change that was, or I wish there were more shows like that.
Now don’t get me wrong, Highway to Heaven deals with some serious issues, like disability, alcoholism, divorce, prejudice, etc. but it is dealt with in a way that is real and kind; showing you that there are other ways of doing things, other paths to take. True, you may not always have an angel show up to lend a hand, but it demonstrates the power of people in general and how a kind word can make a world of difference to a person.
I look forward to our Mom and son nights, not only because of this show but because I get to spend that time with Matthew. I protect that night each week and work all my other commitments around it. I find Matthew behaves better, is more loving and pleasant when we have these opportunities. And we often have a little discussion afterwards about the theme/ issues that arose in the show.
Sadly, the show Highway to Heaven only lasted 5 seasons, running from 1984-1989. The ratings in the fourth season took a dive and NBC decided to cancel the show. Unfortunately, since then I haven’t seen a lot of shows that have that same kind of positive message. (I never get through an episode of Highway to Heaven with a dry eye) And I think it’s important that these kinds of shows exist.
For now, and thankfully, all 5 seasons are out on DVD, and I can watch them endlessly when I need a good release or pick me up. Even a little reminder that there is good in the world. Because I truly believe that there is more good, more light on this planet, but like these kinds of shows, they might just be buried a little bit.