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?

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36 Responses to “How much time should we spend playing with our kids?”

  1. Talula says:

    “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.”

    THAT IS PLAYING WITH YOUR KIDS! AND IT IS ALSO EDUCATING THEM AT THE SAME TIME!

    Trust me as a professional Early Childhood Educator with 25 plus years of experience — that is exactly how you should relate to your children. Within that framework; you teach them your values, communication styles, vocabulary & content for language skills (and eventually writing skills), social skills while all playing together with the give & take of games, emotional support & self-respect (as you cuddle and listen to their opinions and feelings) and most of all: you show them that have value as a human being when you spend time with them (you ‘spend’ your valuable time with them, when you could be doing grown-up things). I wish all families understood this better and occasionally gave their time (or theirself – instead of things) to their children. As human beings; we all need such things. I hope you get a great article out of this, as it is an excellent topic. Perhaps you should start with Parent’s Magazine and Child Magazine for the query letters. Good Luck.

  2. Paula says:

    I was just having this conversation with a friend! I don’t “play” so much either. I do bake and cook with my boys and i will occasionally color or create something with them. I do not however get down and play cars, or trains or dinosaurs. There is the occasional dancing as well. I don’t think playing with them makes you a good parent. I am amazed by how many new parents have guilt about not “playing” with their kids. Who does that? I love to spend time with my boys, walking, talking, but just not playing. And for the record, my mother never played with us either. She always said that is why she had 4 kids, so they could play with each other.

  3. Laura says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Even though Denise tells me often that she never played with her kids, I still feel guilty because I don’t feel I spend enough time playing with mine. I feel guilty when I think they have watched too much TV or have been downstairs too long without my checking on them. Basically I guess I spend a lot of time feeling guilty! :o)
    I have always liked to bake with them or read to them, but, like you, I am not a player. My mom played a lot with me, but I was an only child for almost 7 years so that may have had something to do with it.
    I recently read a column by Dr. Redmond that said children need to entertain themselves, so I found that comforting. Let me know what you find in your research–I look forward to finding out if we are both on the right track!

  4. Melissa says:

    Thanks for this! I don’t play with my son either and he always makes me feel guilty for it. He thinks I should be entertaining him constantly which being a single mother is impossible to do. My mom never played with us either! I don’t know why kids today are so different from how it was when I was a kid. I also feel guilty most of the time but try not to let it get to me.

  5. Christy says:

    Amen. There’s something to be said for allowing your kids to be independent. I have friends who think it’s their duty to spend every waking minute engaged with their children. All it does is create demanding kids who don’t know how to play independently and moms who alienate their friends and spouses because they don’t have the time or energy (or conversational skills) to do anything else.

    By the way, my mom was a single parent, and I was an only child for the first part of my childhood. She was a teacher and by the end of the day really just wanted quiet and some time to herself. Although I have wonderful memories of doing all sorts of things with her, I also have plenty of memories of creating things to do on my own. I think it developed my sense of creativity and the ability to be entertained in almost any situation.

  6. Jim says:

    Sorry people, I think we should be playing with our kid’s or doing whatever they like, as often as they like it. Guilt, yeah!! We feel guilty because we are. If we weren’t we wouldn’t question ourselves. I feel guilty a lot. especially when My 7 year old daughter wants to play because her older sisters don’t want to play with her, and she has no one else, so cherish your children, and feel guilty , you should,!!!

  7. melissa says:

    hi, as for the person that thinks they should play all the time with their kids…no thats wrong, i agree they need independance, i feel guilty too, but just being there next to them or in the same room as them is the same thing, being there with the show they are watching, when they want to talk about what they watched at least you know what they are talking about and u can talk to them about what was just on tv, pay attention to the great job they did at the picture they just drew or colored and be excited for them, feed them, wash them, read them bedtime stories each nite, tickle them, let them cuddle with you, watch them play sometimes, tell them they are doing a good job playing, or ask them what they are doing, what the “dinosaur” toy was doing or eating, engage in what they are doing, you dont necessarily have to play WITH the child, just get involved with them, with their conversations they like to have by themselves lol, tell them what a good job they did at cleaning up their room and give them a little treat or sticker for doing such a good job, take them for a walk or to the candy store, to the park, for a drive, talk about the scenary, point out the cows that are far off in the distance, drive slowly past the cows, stuff like that, you really doing have to do stuff with your child every waking moment, as long as you are there to cherish the special moments, share special moments with them, and love them unconditionally and let them know you are there for them and always will be, always give them the random hug and kiss on the forhead or pat on the head. as long as you are there when they did a good job at something and want to show you…dont tell them to go leave you alone, that will only push the child away and give disappointment, always be there when they acheived something, etc, thats about it :)

  8. Christine says:

    I don’t play with my children often, and I love watching the relationship they have with each other develop, especially as they get older, and I also love seeing what kinds of solitary activities they like to enjoy. Despite the many crafts we do in our house, crafting is another activity that we tend to do side-by-side rather than together. My job is to help set up the home so that they can independently get their materials out and put them away, have easy access to (not too many) toys, and even be as independent as possible in the kitchen.

    I took parent-child classes at a Waldorf school many years ago and one of the things that I took away from it was that children thrive when parents and teachers are modeling doing their own “work” while the children do theirs (play).

  9. DJ says:

    I personally don’t see what’s so bad about playing with your kids? I personally feel that too many parents nowadays spend far too much time playing as adults and not with their children! I know many parents that work to get away from their children, then come home, put them to bed before sundown, break out the liquor and video games, and party it up. On the weekends, they leave the kids with someone and go on vacations or out to eat and party. I think parents that don’t spend time with their kids (and spending time with them doesn’t have to be playtime) are taking them for granted and don’t deserve to have children. Our children grow up so fast and life is fleeting – even in youth. We should invest more time and passion into enjoying our lives together and our fellowship than in being successful, polished, having adult fun, and keeping up with the Joneses.

    Also, when you become a parent, you have that opportunity to remember what it was like to be a child. Yours can still have a great imagination and you can still be a responsible parent and play with your children at the same time.

  10. Alison says:

    If you’re not going to spend time with your children and just let them fend for themselves in this area, why on earth did you have them? If any of you have ever heard of the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then you know that one of the primary love languages that makes a person feel loved is quality time. Children need this most of all.

    Yes, I totally agree that a child needs to learn to play by themselves. And I agree that it would be unfair to a child for you to spend every waking moment with them because at some point they’re going to have to be without you and need to know how to play alone and with others. But, I disagree with the fact that it’s wrong to spend one on one time with them…and strongly disagree that that one on one time can’t be “in their world”. My daughter is two and loves to dance, wiggle, sing, read books, play with her dolls, etc. etc. I jump into her world periodically and do those things with her. Yes, I may look stupid doing them, but I don’t care. Her face lights up when I march around the house with her and go on “bear hunts”. Your children are only children once. Once that time is gone, you’ll wish that you had taken that time to get on their level. Spending quality time with them is a time when you can teach them many life lessons. Teach them how to use their imagination. Teach them their numbers with a puzzle. My daughter is not spoiled because I spend time with her. If she wants my attention at a time when I can’t give it to her, I gently tell her that mommy can’t play with her at that time and try to redirect her attention elsewhere. You’re more likely to have kids who are spoiled when you don’t spend time with them because in essence, they’ve been allowed to do whatever they want when they want.

    To say that spending time with your kids is a negative thing is like saying, “I don’t spend time with my husband. When he comes home, we go our separate ways, and do our own things. We might be in the same room with each other, but we’re not talking or communicating.” Why marry in the first place if you’re not going to have a real relationship with your spouse?

    I’m a stay at home mom, so I do admit I have more time to spend with them. But I make sure to provide a balance that is good for my kids and for me. I spend time just with them, and then do things that need to get done around the house. BUT, my husband works full time and when he gets home at 5:30, one of the first things he does after spending a minute or two talking with me is go have one on one time with our two children before we all sit down to dinner. Those minutes he has with them are precious to him and to our kids.

  11. Alison,

    Thanks for your comments. I, too, am a huge fan of Dr. Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. I have recommended it to just about every parent I know!

    I think you are misunderstanding my post. Of course we should spend time with our children! My question was: Is it our job to ENTERTAIN our children? Many parents these days seem to think it is and feel guilty for not spending every spare moment playing with their kids. My point is just that I don’t think we should be responsible for entertaining our kids. It’s good for them to learn how to entertain themselves and each other. Spending time with kids in the same room doing your thing while they do theirs, teaching them, listening to them, reading to them, etc., do not, in my opinion, qualify as entertaining them.

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you posted. I just wanted to point out that I’m not saying at all that spending time with kids is a negative thing. It’s absolutely imperative to spend time with them. I just don’t believe that we, as parents, should feel guilty for not playing with them or entertaining them, which seems to be what so many parents these days feel is a necessary part of parenting.

    After writing this, I realize there is a very fine line here between what I’m saying and what you’re saying and I don’t think I’m expressing it clearly enough. You know those parents who think they need to sit down and watch every episode of Dora or Handy Manny with their kid? Or who feel horribly guilty for doing something they enjoy themselves because they think they should be playing with their kids? I’m saying I don’t think that’s a necessary part of parenting.

    I can be doing what I need and want to do while my kids are doing what they need and want to do, often in the same room. I can be making dinner and chatting with them as they help or working in my office as they play right next to me. In other words, my world doesn’t need to revolve around them 100% of the time; they can be in their own world and we can visit each other’s once in awhile. Does that make more sense?

    Thanks again for your response. I hope you understand that we are totally on the same page and that I, too, would respond as you did if I thought someone was advocating not spending time with your kids!

  12. Bridgitt says:

    I think it is very important to spend as much time with your kids as you can. It don’t matter if you don’t play, whatever you do with them they will love it no matter what. I have 6 children; 3 are boys and 3 are girls, they do play among one another and it’s great.

    So I know everyone thinks differently about the topic but, just do what you can with your kids, and do it often.

  13. Ren says:

    you have your own lives.. your kids needs to develop their own lives or they will remain depended forever… I think perhaps some parents neglect their spouses or other parts of their lives being so obsessed as being the perfect parents… Keep it natural and spontaneous but more importantly let kids play with kids as much as possible!

  14. Julie says:

    Love them! The rest should come naturally. Remember that they are watching and taking in EVERYTHING you do, so it is important that you do adult activities instead of playing with them all the time. They will see that responsible adults prepare mails, get the mail, pay the bills, clean the house, and love their children. I agree that it is not necessary to get down on the floor and play dinosaurs everyday. BUT, do SOMETHING with them everyday. Read a book, let them help with dinner, play a board game, sing songs, dance, whatever. Then they will know that Mommy and Daddy love me, they just aren’t that excited about dinosaurs! Lol Your kids know when you love them. My mom and dad raised 8 kids and I don’t ever remember them playing anything with us, but they taught us to sew, and cook, and and earn a living, and they rejoiced in everything we achieved. They corrected us when we were wrong and praised us when we were right and because they cared enough to put that effort into us, we knew that we were loved. That’s really all it takes in my opinion. After that it comes down to parental preference. If you want to play (and I must admit I do play a good bit cause I am just a big kid at heart) then that’s great, but if you spend your quality time with your kids doing other things, that is no reason to think you aren’t a good parent. Even caring enough to wonder about it is a good sign, cause bad parents usually don’t even give a crap…

  15. Julie says:

    ^^ha ha…I meant prepare meals not mails, but you get the idea…lol

  16. Andrea says:

    I, too would rather read to them, talk or cuddle. I try to play games or just run around with them. For a long time, I felt guilt if I didn’t play with them every moment of the day. I eventually realized that I also have things to do, too and stopped beating myself up for it.

  17. John says:

    kids don’t need you to be their friend, they need you to be their parent. You can teach your kids a lot with statemtents like – ‘I have to do my chores first (cooking, work, etc) then I can play.'; or, ‘How about you choose what we do for 20 minutes (playing cars, etc.) and I will choose what we do for 20 minutes (read together, quiet time,etc.).'; or, ‘I don’t really enjoy playing _____, lets think of something we both enjoy to do together.’ Also, think of ways they can help you with your chores, or help them think of things they can do on their own, or give them a challenge like ‘lets see how tall of a tower you can build with legos’. Ask them questions, like ‘do you know why I go to work, or what I do at work.’ They will learn a lot from you. You might learn from them too.

  18. I completely agree with you, John!

  19. db says:

    Wow a lot of feeling guilty people on here.
    My Dad *never* played with us except occasionally monopoly or a game of football when on vacation. He took us skating or else to the park sometimes I remember. My mom never played with us at all.

    My wife right now is on at me because she thinks I should play more with them. I read with them a half hour a day and we go for walks or bicycle rides and then I take them to the park or somewhere else all weekend. Quite frankly I’m exhausted. I think I’m doing way more than my parents did so what is there to feel guilty about?

  20. julie says:

    I am a nanny who works for parents who NEVER play, read, bathe, cook ect. w/ their kids. Heck, they don’t even make sure their kid’s brush their teeth before they go to bed or when they wake up. Before the parents go to bed (about 8 or 9pm) they drop off a bag of double stuffed orrioes (or something just as sugary) and leave the kids in front of the TV. The kids (the youngest, now 7, was 4 when i started working for them) stay up into the wee hours of the night. The 7 year old is going into second grade. she cannot read, write, or do math at the 2nd grade level. I keep telling the parents she needs more attention but they ignore me and go on spoiling themselves. Neither one of these parents has to work. I could go on and on.

  21. Shaley says:

    Thank you for your post, and for all of your comments. I actually appreciate John’s comments quite a bit.
    My son is 3 years and 3 months, and I have always played with him a lot. Sometimes it actually made me frustrated, because I neglected doing the things that I needed to do. I felt that I shouldn’t leave him to play alone “a lot,” especially after reading about playful parenting techniques.
    But you know what? These days he is really pushing away from me. He even told me two days ago that he didn’t want me to play with him and that he wanted to play by himself with his trains and cars. I think he was telling me that he needs some space!

  22. Crazy in tx says:

    It is not my responsibility to entertain kids all the time or at all for that matter. I am a step parent and my the kids are so clingy and always have been. Play with me, sit and watch tv with me etc. It has ruined our marriage. It should have been a wake up call when we met she still had the kids ages 5 and 7 in bed with her.

    I like to retire to my man cave and watch tv and play video games. But the wife thinks b/c she is downstairs with the kids I should be to. I don’t want to hang out with her and kids 100% of the time. I feel like a caged animal. Moms cut the cord already!!

  23. Jen says:

    I have a two year old girl, she helps me when I cook, we read throughout the day, we play outside as often as we can. I have no problem letting her play on her own while I’m doing chores and necessary things around the house, and neither does she, but I do have a hard time balancing letting her play on her own and me doing my own thing (that’s not “necessary”, like reading a grown-up book!) for a half hour or so during the day. I know I shouldnt feel guilty, because it’s good for both of us, but I don’t know how to explain that to her.

  24. L Olson says:

    Thanks for this great little piece. I often feel guilty that I don’t “play” constantly with my 2 yr old son. I do get down on the floor and do blocks, ABC cards, books, etc with him when I can – but otherwise I am busy cooking, cleaning, and doing work from home. People are always telling me how well he plays independently and I sometimes wonder if they think that’s a good or bad thing. I guess it depends on the parent it is coming from! When my son was younger I would increase his independent playtime more and more which is why he is able to do this.

  25. Kindra says:

    What if its just u and the baby
    ?????????????????? I think it should be 50″50 play with them and then let them have there own time.

  26. Erika says:

    My four year old girl is an only child. I am a stay-at-home mom. My time is spent happily taking care of her, feeding her, picking out her clothes with her, etc. I take her to all of her preschool classes, extracirricular activities and excitedly volunteer at all her class parties, shows, recitals, etc. We host and go to many of her friends’ houses for playdates. She and I go to the mall and go to her favorite California Pizza Kitchent every week. She and I spend every night reading two or three books and I tickle her back until she’s asleep (probably another discussion needing a blog). I’m not blowing my own horn. In fact, I am very ashamed to say I do not like playing. She is a child that either cannot or does not play by herself. (My mother/father barely ever played with me and I was an only child as well.)
    It is always the same, from the MOMENT we wake up she wants me to “talk for her stuffed animals.” Like, right when my right eye is opening. Ugh! Later during the day (like when I’m driving) she says, “OK, now you are going to pretend to be three characters…Captain Hook, Flynn Ryder, and the Beast.” Ugh! I am not upset about the fact I’m always “the guy,” but rather, I am running out of material and motivation! More than often than not I do it, but sometimes I say, “Not right now, Sweetie.” She becomes despondent and I feel guilty – which is natural to me being Jewish and all. When I’m not busy play-acting, or feeling guilty I try to read parenting books. My favorite and most helpful one is Positive Discipline. It gave me the idea of saving 30 min-1 hour a day and using it for “Special Time.” During our “Special Time” we do anything she wants to do. I leave my phone (and hang-ups) at the door. Usually we do nothing but pretend play (not my favorite) where she is a princess or Wendy Darling or a pirate or a super hero. I have tried to do board games (the usual Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, etc.), but she’s just not into it yet. I feel I’ll be better at those.
    Anyway, since incorporating Special Time into our daily routine, I think that both of us feel a lot better. I can say to her, “Let’s save that for ‘Special Time’ when she asks me to be the voice of her Woody Doll and she has Mommy all to herself to do whatever she wants to do for a good half hour-an hour a night. I feel less guilty. She seems happier. The world is a better place. :)

  27. Nicole says:

    This article is written all wrong! I agree that you don’t have to play with your children all the time and that it ia good for them to play just by themselves. However, it is silly to think that not playing with them at all is beneficial to their development. I don’t always play with them but I make sure to take time every day to play, read, talk ect. I am not ashamed to be a mother who wants to be with her kids and develop a strong relationship with them! When I had my children it was not a disappointment and a waste of my time. That sure seems like what you are saying. An excuse to make you feel better about being selfish instead of spending time with your children. How are my children supposed to come talk to me about anything (like you say) if we don’t even have a relationship to begin with. My mother played with me, we talk every day! I wonder what kind lf a relationship you have with your mother and the kind you expect your children to have with you?

  28. Nicole, I am not by any means saying that parents shouldn’t spend time with their kids, or play with their kids. I am saying that I don’t think we should feel responsible for ENTERTAINING our kids. I said in my post that I enjoy playing games, reading books, talking, cuddling and singing with my kids. I believe all of those things constitute playing. In fact, I don’t believe that I said anything different than what you said, i.e., “I don’t always play with them but I make sure to take time every day to play, read, talk etc.”

    My point was this — as parents, we manage to find a boat load of guilt as it is, without causing ourselves more. I simply don’t think it’s our job to entertain our kids. Spend time with them? Of course! Develop a strong relationship with them? Yes! Be there for them? Absolutely!

    But entertain them? Nope. I don’t feel that’s our responsibility as parents. Entertaining our kids is NOT synonymous with spending time with them.

  29. jessica says:

    well i do spent time with my mum & dad lol xxxxx

  30. Stephane says:

    Ok, I have read through this entire page and I am quite disappointed with some of the comments. First off, A parent will raise their children which ever way he/she feels like. Of course that does constitute the idea of raising your child. Most parents dont realize the stress you put on yourself even worrying about these matters. It is this kind of feeling guilty and becoming over bearing towards your children that will put you into a mental home.

    My mother had me and my twin brother at the age of 15 and she is always depressed, has a shitty marriage and the entire family has turned into a disfuntional, argument infested, therapy needing, basket case. And guess what. She as spent her every waking moment with us. Me and my twin were her life. Her entire family had abandoned her because she decided to keep us, and therefore she had dedicated all her time to us.

    Parents these days are influenced by parents back in the day and they don’t realize the stress that parents back in the day had to endure. Yet these days, the older generations feel that every parent should endure how they did. Even though the research in child development was put towards wooden spoons and finding that proper durable leather belt.

    Realize this: We are parents, not friends; We are parents, not entertainment; We are parents. We are their to ensure the first part of their lives go smoothly and they transition properly into an educational atmosphere, such as a school enviroment. We prepare them to communicate properly so teacers can do their job, and we prepare them for social interactions so friendships can develop with other children their ages. We ensure they are safe, they are fed, sheltered, clothed, and we make the decision on the types of values and morals they will uphold (they look up to us and will follow our morals and values. It is not something we teach, it is something they will observe and learn, but keep in mind that you Will discuss with them what they have observed to ensure they have advocated the proper understanding of the morals and values being set forth).

    Too often do parents stress themselves out and try to over-extend themself and too often do parents neglect their children, expecting them to just turn out right. It is said that it takes 5 adults to properly raise one child. This does not mean that if your a single parent, you MUST spend every waking moment with your child, else he/she will become under-developped. If your a single parent, then, by all means, get daycare, ask (no, demand) your parents help you. Pay for a babysitter once in a while, you deserve it. You ARE raising that child for a while. Sometimes it seems like parents just try to be better than the parent down the street, yet you should just do what is needed and extend only as far as your health and/or abilities can allow you.

    I am a single parent of a beautiful 2 year old girl, and I don’t Play with her toys or endulge into her imagination. I talk to her firmly, I play video games, and am always sick due to crohns. As so, I do have to watch my stress levels (as good and bad stress are destructive to my well-being) and I am a very relaxed parent. I do have help from my parents. I have a cousin who has worked at many daycares and went to school for a long time for early childhood and such. I never get babysitters, but my parents are always there if my friends want me to go out for a game of poker or whatever. My daughter plays great by herself. As with any child, she does try to get into things she should not, and I do have to redirect her. She adores cartoons like toopy and binou, she enjoys playing with her dolls, obsessed over my parents kitten and has a very very happy personality. She is in her terrible twos, is slowly (like very slowly) being potty trained, and loves all the adults in her life (myself, my parents, my brothers, and close friends/family). She is very independant, and always calls for me. Her face lights up for everything and she has a very cute angry face. She is a normal child with normal emotions and the normal increased senses to ensure early development (yes, children’s senses are 10 times more potent then ours do to the need to develop).

    As a parent, one needs to understand that you’re there to ensure the early development and proper transition into society. It is ALL about transitioning into a social enviroment. Once this is ensured, everything else comes into place. If your stuck up on making your children love you, you may very well just push them away. If you neglect your children, you may very well cause them to pursue negligent relationships. Talk to your children (not very hard), Let them know what they should and should not be doing (always follow a negative with a positive {i.e. if you tell your child not to do something, be ready to follow through with what they should be doing, such as, telling them not to eat playdough and instead, squish it in their hands.} And always be sure to avoid negative words(i.e. “no” & “don’t”). Set boundaries for their safety. If they are quite, expect they are into something they should not be. If they are loud, expect they are having fun. If they pull a tantrum, let them lay on the ground and get it out of their system. Just because the importance of their development is stressed throughout society, does not mean you must stress yourself over it. In the animal kingdom, nuturing comes naturally, so follow your instincts.

    Oh yes, I worry all the time that I will die tomorrow and it makes me sad that my daughter would go without a father (whom she loves with all her tiny heart) but I don’t regret or feel guilty for not playing with her toys or having a 24/7 interaction with her. It was more relevant when she was a baby that could not move herself. Now she is growing and has to learn independance, and has to be able to create an imagination. She is always going to have guidance and will always be pointed in the right direction, but she will ALWAYS be taught to do things on her own. She knows many words and yet, I had only taught her a quarter of the words she knows. She can count a deck of cards, yet she has learnt that from an animal numbers game on a cellphone application (same with colors). Just because I was not the one to teach her these things, does not mean, I do not communicate with her, and test her knowledge. Today, we have many resources available to teach our children and there is no wrong way of going about doing it. If you have too much pride in your way and would like to disannounce another persons parenting skills, then I have a feeling that you will begin to criticize your childs actions if they don’t reflect your own and they WILL begin resent your opinion as they WILL feel your either too judgemental or just plain disapprove of them. Would you really want for this?

    Now there are parents, that will keep their child locked up in their room all day, just so they don’t have to deal with parenting. This IS wrong and These type of parents should be giving jail time and should definately lose their children.

  31. Susanne says:

    Sarah – Your article and thoughts encouraged me greatly. Thank you. :)

  32. Susanne, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me. Your comment has, in turn, encouraged me greatly! =)

  33. Stephanie says:

    Dear Crazy in Tx…..why did you marry a woman with children if being part of the family isn’t what you wanted? When you marry someone with children they are a HUGE part of the equation. NO, it is not your responsibility to entertain all of the time, but it is your responsibility to be present. Everyone needs their personal space, but let’s get real, is it any kind of marriage for her or the children if you are climbing into a “man-cave” all the time? I think if it were me and my children I would seriously be reconsidering your commitment to family. Maybe you should try someone without kids.

    Otherwise, this page was very refreshing to me. I am a stay-at-home mom and I have one 4 year old son and one 3 1/2 year old step-daughter. They are half brother and sister. I tend to let them play together a great deal of time on the weeks that we have her (2 a month) and then I feel bad because my son doesn’t have anyone to play with on the weeks that she isn’t here. I think that it gives him alone time as well as one-on-one “mommy” time. I just always have a tendency to wonder if it’s “enough”. BTW, I am very attentive to both he and his 1/2 sister.

  34. Geri Fowler says:

    I totally agree with you. As children we played by ourselves and usually outside. My grand children refuse to play unless an adult does so with them or they expect to be entertained constantly. This does not allow the adults to do their own work/chores. And the screamming and whining if you do not entertain them is unbearable. This behavior drives a wedge between the adults in the home. Yes,read to them,cuddle,or play a board game,but please,make them understand they are to play by themselves. Great article. Thank you. My children played together or alone. I always had time for the chores and getting ready for work without children preventing me from doing so. All was well. Our home was not chaotic.

  35. Lisa says:

    I struggle with this issue a lot as we have only one child, a son who is 3 1/2. We don’t have family in the area, we are business owners, (DH is about to leave his corporate job of nearly 20 years to run our business full-time), and to be perfectly honest don’t know a lot of other ppl in our age range (38-44) with very young children. We are not the kind of parents who leave him with anyone, in fact, we have rarely gone out alone at all since he’s been born – a DRASTIC change from the 5 years we had together married before having our son. Don’t get me wrong, our boy is our hearts – we could not imagine our lives without him – he has changed us immeasurably. I am sure I just put too much guilt onto myself because my mother not only didn’t play with us, she was a pretty crappy mom in general. It was really interesting to read everyone’s perspectives on this, I’d love to hear from other parents of onlies…

  36. Tracy says:

    I’m not much of a “player” either. I am a single mom with an only child. A boy that seems to require a lot of attention. He has the attention span of a hummingbird, and he doesn’t like to play on his own. Any advice?

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