Monday, June 30, 2014

Let Them Play Alone

There is a lot of pressure today to do everything with your kids.  You are criticized if you choose to sit back and watch them instead of get down and play with them.  Now, I fully believe that parents should play with their kids often.  I believe in the power of play, and one form of that play includes playing with a parent or other adult.

Tonight I was at the pool with my four older kids.  All this last week, there has been a post (a great post, to be sure) going around about how you should not worry about what you look like in a swimsuit and just get in the pool and play with your kids.  How I look in a swimsuit isn't something that concerns me when I am at the pool.  I don't believe either that people sit around and look at you and think about how you shouldn't be in a swimsuit.  I think most peopled are too self-absorbed to notice or think about how anyone else looks at the pool.

I love to swim and always take my kids swimming in the summer.  Sometimes, though, I just don't want to get in the water.  Sometimes, I just don't want to be wet.  Sometimes, the pool water is just too cold for me.  Tonight, the air was cool (high 70s) and even though it was hot all day, it wasn't warm enough for me to get in the water.  I didn't even want to put my feet in because the air was so comfortable.  So I watched from a chair on the side.  I didn't even bring my phone or something to read.  My four older kids can all swim just fine.  They had brought super spraying water guns to play with and were really going at it with each other.

I started to feel guilty for not getting in the water with them even though they asked several times.  The whole idea of not missing out on sharing a moment with them made me feel like I was doing something wrong.

But then I realized that they were playing together really well.  They played with those water guns for a good thirty to forty minutes, happy, laughing, swimming together.  They were getting along without me having to intervene every few minutes and remind them to be nice and share and blah, blah, blah.  Why should I interrupt that?  As great as it is to play with your kids and swim with them and do all these activities with them, it's also really good for them to play with each other without adult intervention or inclusion.  Sometimes, kids just need to play with other kids and work things out on their own without us.

So, even though it's great to get down and play with them and include yourself in their activities, it's also just fine to sit back and watch and not be part of it.  It helps them bond with each other and build friendships with each other.  After all, when I'm gone, they will have each other, and that will be a hundred times better if they are also friends.

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