There is a fine between promoting independence and simply ignoring your kids.
From the very beginning, children need to be loved, nurtured, and attended to. That’s what parenting is all about: Expanding your heart and giving to your child.
A large part of that giving comes in the form of engaging. When they are infants we cuddle, sing, and rock. When they are toddlers we run, play, and count. When they are preschoolers we discover, learn, and practice.
But then…some parents just seem to stop. Go off and swim, you can do it. You don’t need me. Play with your friends. Make a new friend. Find something to do.
It’s as if some parents feel that the minute their children hit a certain age, they are off the hook…no attention necessary.
It’s not true. It’s sad to see. It’s heartbreaking, really. Because your children always need you.
Sure, they want play dates and they love school. They ask to play soccer, take gymnastics, and enroll in a dance class.
But that doesn’t mean that they are finished being nurtured. It simply means that they are growing and changing. Parents are supposed to be along for the ride, no matter what.
I’ve never been a pusher. I know the toll that stress can take on a child, so I never push my children to do things that they are not ready to do.
A few “well-meaning” family members have criticized me for it. Sometimes to my face, more often behind my back. It doesn’t change my parenting philosophy either way.
If you don’t make them put on their shoes, they will never learn.
They know how to put on their shoes.
If you let them use sippy cups, they won’t be able to drink from a cup.
They drink from cups.
You just have to force her to separate. She’ll learn.
Guess who is super psyched for Kindergarten? (Hint: Not me.)
She’s not putting him in preschool yet?
He’s ready for preschool.
I take the comments in stride because I know in my heart that I am doing what’s right for my children.
And when attention starved children follow me around the park, the pool, and the library? I know it even more.
I took my sweet girl for a swim the other day. At five, she is now ready to really swim. No longer afraid to get her head wet, she just can’t get enough of the pool. Special time has become pool time.
While swimming around, showing me her latest moves, some other kids approached.
Look what I can do!
Hey! Hey! Over here! Stop watching her every time!
At the park, I can handle the extra kids. We play hide and seek, duck, duck, goose, and red light, green light. At the park, everyone is on solid ground and there are no drowning risks to consider.
But the pool is an entirely different story. Sweet Girl is getting much stronger, that’s for sure. But she isn’t ready to swim alone. She would probably panic if she got caught underwater. She needs supervision.
And she needs her special time with mommy. She needs to show me what she’s learning from her swimming teacher. She needs to play with me. She needs to have to time to just be us.
I tried my best to respond to those other kids, I really did. But my eyes were on Sweet Girl only while at the pool. For more reasons than one, I kept my attention on her.
Your children need you. Your children want you. And if they can’t have you? They will look for someone to replace you.
Engage your kids today. They will be better for it.
(And so will you.)