If the title of the post rings true for you, please know that you are not alone. Such sentiments are frequently suppressed by shame-filled parents who begrudgingly endure endless rounds of Go Fish and hours of plot-less puppet shows. These moms and dads fear what such a declaration would reveal about them, so they quietly hide their dirty little secret. So how can we address these repressed, but not uncommon, feelings? Here we will explore some insights and encouragement for parents.
Get off the guilt train. If you don’t enjoy certain activities with your kids, stop kicking yourself for it. Acknowledge that you are an individual with your own personal likes and dislikes. Without apology, you can gently voice the fact that you do not really like puppet shows but, because you like your children, you will play with them. What a wonderful way to model sacrificial love to your kids. Furthermore, you may just find that such a perspective-providing confession actually frees you up to focus on enjoying your kids even if you don’t enjoy the activity itself.
Stop pretending. The only person you are fooling is yourself. Kids are highly trained at observing and interpreting their parents’ subconscious feelings and subsequent behavior. If you “fake” liking an activity with your children, they are going to know it. Unfortunately, if their assessment skills are a little off, they could falsely interpret your distaste for the activity as distaste for them. You don’t want that – so come clean.
Engage your children in some things YOU like to do. Somewhere along the way, we swallowed a parenting pill that was meant to cure us of having any individuality at all. However, if we become a blank slate for our children, never voicing our own opinions or desires, we actually do them a disservice. Our children need to know that parents are people too. By doing things your children enjoy as well as things that you enjoy, you teach them the important social intricacies of compromise, give and take and negotiation. Their playground and backyard relationships will be much more successful if you do.
Get in touch with your “inner child”. For some of us, this is very easy. Some parents are still just kids wrapped in an adult-size body. However, if you find yourself too refined or “mature” to have a water-balloon fight with your children, try to figure out why. Do you fear losing control? Do you fear losing respect from your children if you stoop to their “level”? Do you wonder what others will think? Give up these fears and seize the moment. You will be making memories and deepening your relationship with your children as you allow yourself to enter into their childhood for a moment. Remember: you are the parent and you can return to that role any time you want.
If you find play time with your kids something you dread instead of anticipate, make some changes. To be sure, parenting is not all about you and your needs, but it isn’t all about your kids’ either. Balance is the key to any successful relationship.Image by Dawnyell Reese from Pixabay