May 15, 2019

Do We Really Have To Play With Our Kids? When Parenting Feels Relentless

Parenting really is more demanding than it used to be. We spend three times as many hours playing with our kids as our mothers did.  But why? Do we really need to curate kids’ every waking moment? Or might they be better off playing in a dirt pile?

According to researcher Patrick Ishizuka, "intensive parenting has become the dominant cultural model." Sounds about right. We spend triple the time actively engaging with our kids that our own parents did with us. And even then, we all feel guilty that we're not doing more. (Or that we kind of hate playing with LOL Surprise! Dolls, and we aren't hiding it very well.)

But is more always better? Are our modern hyper-organized days creating children who have no idea how to occupy themselves, who need either a screen or one-on-one adult attention at all times? Do we *have* to play with our kids? Is there a way for parenting to feel a little less relentless?

Here are links to research and other writing we discuss in this episode:

Claire Cain Miller for the New York Times: The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting

Rebecca Onion for Slate: Playtime is Over

Suzanne M. Bianchi et al: Changing Rhythms of American Family Life

Janet Lansbury: RIE Parenting Basics (9 Ways to Put Respect into Action)

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