It seems like parents today get too consumed with spending as much time as possible playing with their kids. Don’t get me wrong — of course I think parents should spend time with their kids. But is it really our job to entertain them?
Personally, I don’t think so.
I feel that it’s vital to a child’s development to teach her to play independently. Parents are not always available to play or give undivided attention to our kids and a child who thinks he needs to be entertained constantly will be a very unhappy child indeed.
It’s easy to feel guilty for not spending more time playing with the kids. I give in to the feelings of remorse on occasion and then have to remind myself of several things:
One, my mom never played with us. Ever. Except for board games. My sisters and I didn’t think a thing of it. In fact, we spent many happy hours using our imaginations, making up games, playing elaborate versions of “House,” doing crafts and many other mind-engaging activities. She was doing “mom” things.
Two, parents in the past were far too busy working to have time to play with their kids at all, let alone time to feel guilty about it when they had to worry about trying to give their children shelter and food. Kids back then learned more responsibility for themselves than they do now, I believe.
Three, it’s actually good to make my kids play alone or with their siblings. It encourages imagination, independent thinking, resourcefulness and they don’t rely on me to provide their entertainment. This means that hopefully when I’m busy working or on the phone, they won’t be yanking on my legs, begging me for attention.
Actually, they all play well independently, some more than others. I’m not much of a “player” either, sort of like my mom. I love to spend time with my kids, I’d just rather read a book or play a game with them, or cuddle, sing or talk. But if I don’t always get to it, I don’t beat myself up about it. They know I love them and that they can come to me any time they need to. And when I hear the four of them running around downstairs, giggling and having a great time playing the game they just invented, I think I’ve been doing the right thing all along.
I think this is such an interesting topic, I’m going to write a query letter on it to send out to magazines. This means that I will be doing some research to see what the “experts” say. I’ll report back here with my findings.
In the meantime, what are your feelings on this subject? Is it our responsibility to entertain our kids?