Playing with your kids is not necessary?

Filed under: Just For Moms, Big Kids, Just For Dads, Relatives, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

A while back, a close family member expressed the opinion that my husband shouldn't be down on the floor playing dolls with Ellie. She felt this was not only a waste of my husband's time, but potentially harmful for Ellie. Her reasoning had something to do with the fear that Ellie would see him more as a playmate as less as an authority figure. We chose to ignore her opinion on the matter.

According to Utah State University anthropologist David Lancy, playing with your kids is a chore that parents may as well eliminate. "In much of the psychological literature ... there is this unquestioned assertion that mothers play with their children and that is normal. If they don't, (the implication is that) there's something wrong, even going so far as to say the infant or child would be harmed," he says. He's not saying you shouldn't play with your kids, he is saying you shouldn't feel guilty if you choose not to.

This article does not explain how Lancy came to this conclusion that playing with your kids has no benefit, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there who would disagree. People like Douglas Goldsmith, executive director of The Children's Center in Salt Lake City. He worries that this message will make parents feel it is okay to only focus on the basics - feeding, transportation, etc. To him, being a parent means "exploring, enjoying, praising and supervising" your kids. Anything short of that, he says, is a job half-done.

But Lancy feels that here in the United States, we are "obsessed" with kids and that the parent-child-play movement has no value and is possibly racist! He feels that advocates trying to "export the phenomenon as a fundamental child 'right' to the rest of the world," is in reality a "desire to use play to 'civilize the irrational natives." What?

Playing with Elli does sometimes feel like a chore. But even if the benefit of playing with her is only to reassure her that I like her and enjoy being with her, it seems well worth it to me.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.