Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My parents made me play by myself

Sometimes modern parenting can suck it.

I hear things evolve over time, I can only assume this goes for parenting as well.  Shoot back in the caveman days caveman moms probably carried their kids by the scruff of their necks with their teeth.  I haven't passed anyone in Target doing that. 

Our parent's were kicked out of the house at oh dark thirty, allowed to wonder the streets of wherever-ville, and reported back for dinner.  Or whenever mom leaned her head out of the house and screamed your name loud enough to cover a solid 5 mile radius.

Not so much anymore.

Parenting has evolved to the point where I feel every minute of my day must be spent with my kids.

And I'm not even touching on the "the world is scarier our kids can't play outside alone" feeling.

This is just straight up helicopter parenting, a kind of constant, obnoxious, hoovering over kids these days.There is a fine line between spending time with your kids and running 24/7 to keep them entertained and amused.  Honestly, I gave you life, amuse yourself.

But in all seriousness, this is just one more way that we are making our kids more and more dependent on us.  We are shorting them on the ability to entertain and occupy themselves.  And taking away the great lessons in failure and success.

Now I'm not saying I want my kids to run around with sharp scissors poking their eyes out or anything, but then again, doing something every now and again in the playroom without mom stepping in might have some learning potential in it.

I was talking to my mom about this and told her that I don't have a lot of memories of her "playing" with us.  I was kinda worried she would take this as some smack down on her parenting skills, she was an amazing mom.  I remember her baking us lots of cookies, taking us all over creation for whatever sport, volunteering for anything and everything, but not so much playing with us.

She didn't miss a beat when I told her this, "That's because I didn't.".  Oh well than.  That would explain that.

I've talked with a fair number of other moms about this and most all seem to agree with me.  Modern parenting seems to have this strange requirements that parent's now feel like they need to "be with" their kids 24/7.  Why do I feel guilty when I'm doing housework and the kids are playing upstairs in the playroom with each other?

I won't even get into the guilt if everyone seems to be quiet and I decide to pick up a book or my laptop.

Even flyboy has been brainwashed by this.  The other weekend I was eating my breakfast downstairs in peace after making and feeding everyone else.  I was reading the paper and actually enjoying 5 quiet minutes.  He came into the room and wanted to know why I was hiding and wasn't upstairs with the boys.  Ummmm?  Because I'm watching all the exits and can see if they escape?

I know I'm not alone in this.  Why? Because I've noticed something interseting.  When I drive up to the park I'll notice the other mom at the park just sitting, the SECOND she spies another parent coming into the park {that would be me} she hops up and starts sliding down the slide with junior, or suddenly has great interest in the rock wall.

And I've seen this time and time again.  Shoot, I like being the only one at the park so I can sit back and relax and watch my kids play.  When the other parents are there the expectation up a notch.  And why?  Your hardly a bad parent if you don't play with your kids the entire time. Geez kids I brought you to the park so you could play outside!

{Side note, being that douchbag at the park who is smoking a cig and reading a mag while your kid is begging another parent to push them on the slide will probably result in getting your car keyed by said other parent. Don't ignore your kid just help them figure out how to play by themselves.}

Bottom line, good kids really can play by themselves and be by themselves some.  Our parents turned out just fine.  We turned out just fine, shoot and we were riding around sharing seat belts in cars {without booster seats might I add} and eating raw cookie dough.


  1. Kids need that independence. Just think, when they are old enough to go to preschool or kindergarten, the teacher doesn't follow them around on the playground or play with one child the entire time. Yes, parent interaction is needed, but at the same time, kids need to be independent. Their future teachers will thank you!

  2. "shoot and we were riding around sharing seat belts in cars {without booster seats might I add} and eating raw cookie dough."

    One of the benefits of being the (seemingly) last of our friends and family to have kids is the chance to observe all the various parenting styles of the rainbow. And the one thing I've learned is:

    They all grow up
    They all get potty trained
    They all learn to talk, walk, write and read

    Yeah, they do it at different rates and stages and stuff. But I've yet to see someone severely hampered by the fact that they were given a popsicle instead of a mandarin orange as a midday snack.

    All that to say, I totally agree that there is a LOT of pressure on (particularly) moms to be the "perfect" mom and you have to follow procedures X, Y and Z, or else you are seriously damaging your kids somehow.

    I'm all for parental interaction - my best memories are of us kids and my dad playing hide and seek in the dark night after night - but all things in moderation.

    And yes, I scarfed down raw cookie dough as a kid. And we did Santa. And I'm still here.

  3. this! I'm a firm believer in letting Little M have some playtime by herself. And my mom recently told me that she never played with us either...and I think I turned out alright!


    I think kids need to learn to play alone in order to let their imagination get to work. This is something I've really enforced in our house and it works out pretty well. My 3 year old has a very wild imagination and I love it! He can sit for hours while I do homework and he is perfectly fine entertaining himself.

    When I was little, I can remember shutting myself in my bedroom for hours, playing with barbie dolls and being perfectly happy.

  5. I absolutely agree! I have a hard time doing this though! My daughter is an only child, so I feel I do have to entertain her a bit. Then, if she has a playdate over, I definitely hover nearby to be sure her social interactions are good (she has high-functioning autism). But even I am trying toback up a bit and give her some space! LOL!

  6. could not agree more. i used to feel super guilty about not enjoying "playing" with my son until some mom (online?) pointed out, what adult woman would enjoy activities/toys designed for (a then) 18 mo old?

    i was like, YES!! so true!!

    and thats when i realized its not my job to play with him. i supervise, sometimes we do do fun things "together," but i'm his mom, not his best friend. nor am i a hired entertainer.

    'nuf said :)

    and, luckily for him, his papa loves to get on the floor and make up all kinds of weird boy crazy games with him :)

  7. I love this! Seriously, I was just talking about this with my mom. You've given me the push to just get over my guilt and let her have self-playtime so I can get things done.

  8. I agree with you 100% I do not hover around my kids and I don't "play" with them that much either. I am a firm believer that they need to know how to entertain themselves, and plus what if something were to happen to me. They have to know how to get around their everyday lives without me as a constant companion.

  9. Oh I was just thinking about this the other day. When we are at home, usually they are playing with each other or by themselves. I am there, I am listening but they do the playing. I love hearing what they come up with. It's so sweet!

    I would just go nuts if my kids had to have me play with them every second of the day. Nuts!

  10. I still eat raw cookie dough! *gasp* ;) Totally understand and agree. And, I confess, I do let Dylan play alone at times during the day. Sometimes I even kick my feet up and read a book while he's playing. But I am close by. After all, he's only 1 and definitely knows how to get into trouble even in a fenced in area.

  11. HA HA I LOVE this! I think about this often and my husband and I were just saying how in the summer we literally played out all day long and I remember asking my mom to get me a drink and she would say "turn on the hose" I think some parents would have a heart attack hearing this story :) lol

  12. This was really interesting to me. I don't have kids, but I have a friend who I now realize is a helicopter parent. She will not let her kids out of her sight, and I now get why her kids can't entertain themselves. I now also get why she jumps up and has to "assist" her son on the slide when there are other parents around when we're at the park.

  13. AMEN! Granted, there are times I do feel bad for not playing with the Wee One more than I already do but it has seriously helped his creativity to figure out the whole play thing on his own. Plus, when his sister is old enough they can play together and entertain one another.

    I am totally with you about playing at the park and sitting back and just watching. I honestly only go help my son if I know he is about to do something super dangerous (which tends to be often) or he asks for my help. I can't stand the Mom's that show up and don't even watch their kid; they are literally surfing the web/texting the ENTIRE time. Their kid falls off something or is literally screaming at them and they don't budge from their shade or even look up. That irks me.

  14. my helicopter never even got off the there's no "hover" here.

    I've been heard to say (regularly, I might add), "Either you two figure it out, or else I'll put you two in a room and you can fight it out till one of you comes out bleeding." They usually figure it out.

    That's not to say that I don't get the "MO-OOOO-OOOOM" call a billion times a day. But my kids are pretty independent. Which is nice. I don't play with them a whole lot in the pool (I do have some water gun fights with them...those foam water cannons are well worth the bucks!), and I go out and fix a bike, pull down scooters, put out new chalk/bubbles/water slides, etc. I don't play in the park (I'll push a swing, and give "underdoggies/underducks"...but that's the extent - since I'm usually behind the lens of my camera (a good excuse to not be a hovermom).

    That said, I agree with youngmom/wife - if you don't pay ANY attention to your kid, they will end up annoying a photographer who will yell at them, "No, I will NOT take your picture, I don't want my camera to break" (after being pestered by a kid for 30 minutes...the kid tried to use my reflector as a drum, jumped into at least a dozen shots I was taking on a PAID gig and he almost tripped me once)...thereby reducing said annoying child to tears and his apparently drug-induced mom having NOT A CLUE.

    I am a mean mom. Sorry.

  15. I just love this post! I don't spend a lot of time playing with/entertaining my kids at home; but this has got me thinking about how much "hovering" I do when we are out in public.

  16. I love this post and the comments, because it makes me feel like less of a grumpy old coot.

    I really believe that having to entertaining myself as a kid has made it easier to deal with deployments as an adult. It's a shame that not all children have that opportunity (to entertain themselves, I mean, not go through deployments!).

  17. I love this post and the comments. My girls have learned to play with each other and entertain themselves. We have our family time where we all do something together but the girls love to just play outside or in their room. I love that my girls have learned to play together and entertain themselves. It means I can check on them throughout the day while getting my schoolwork and housework done. That doesn't mean that I don't hear MOOOOM at all because I hear it a lot. But I know if I ask the girls to go outside they will be okay in the back yard.

  18. I don't have kids yet, that won't be for a long time, but I completely agree with everything you said. I think its great that parents like to play with their kids and spend time with them, but there has to come a point where a child needs to learn how to play with others and gain some independence.

    Thank you for sharing this with us :)

  19. I am laughing out loud, and this is so true! My husband and I had this conversation awhile ago about how he doesn't really like playing with the boys so much, but does it anyway because it seems like what he should do. I told him to just tell them to go play by themselves if he's not in the mood, and he does it a lot more now. It is hard, though, the guilt of it. And weirdly, it's not like anyone told me that was how I should be, but it still feels like if I'm cleaning the house or reading, and my kids want me to play and I don't want to, I'm somehow not parenting right by saying no. Sigh... So glad to know I'm not alone with this!

  20. I love this post!! I don't play with my daughter a lot during the day. She loves to play on her own. She doesn't like me to read her stories, that is something special she shares with her Daddy. As long as she can see me or knows exactly where I am (meaning I stay in one chair and do not get up) she is happy. Most of the time when I do play with her she gets bored and wanders off to do her own thing. If she does decide to play with me it is usually just climbing all over me which is not my idea of fun. And, yes, I feel like I should probably be down in the floor more and coloring with her or playing blocks or baby doll more.

  21. I have always encouraged my son to occupy himself since he was very little. Now at 9 yrs old, I rarely hear him utter the words "I'm bored."

  22. My little one is still little enough that she needs the constant supervision ... but she is often playing by herself (I will sit with her to make sure she doesn't fall back and hurt herself since she is just learning to sit up). I often will be reading a book while she plays with her toys or on her playmat. I do enjoy playing with her too. I know we occupied ourselves a lot growing up. Though one of my favorite memories is of us playing jumprope in front of our apartment building one day after school and my dad jumping in as he got home from work (in his uniform no less).

    I hope to encourage my daughter to play by herself (or with any siblings that come along).

  23. I think most experts say that it is important for kid's development for them to have independent play time. Yet, we have this mommy guilt if we don't play with them 24/7!


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