I'm astounded by the reaction to my last post - not so much the number of comments (though there were quite a few), but the length of the responses you all wrote. Thank you. I so enjoyed hearing all the different perspectives, and I think I learnt something from each and every comment.
I also realised that one thing that weighs so heavily on me, as a parent, is a matter that some older bloggers still feel guilty over, and that bloggers with young children agonise over, too. (I am not alone - oh joy, oh joy!) It seems all parents worry that they are not spending enough time with their little darlings.
We all believe that all those other Marvellous Mothers and Fantastic Fathers are spending hours every day reading, painting, singing, and talking face-to-face with their kids. We all believe we are the only bad parents who read one book, then try to put a load of washing on; we fear we are the only evil mothers (or fathers) who put the paint and paper out for the kids, then sit down nearby with coffee and a magazine. Yet I suspect we're almost all harbouring this guilt.... so most of us aren't acting like non-stop entertainers/teachers/life coaches. We're just parents at home. Besides caring for children we're trying to get the kitchen clean, trying to pay the bills, trying to stay sane with the odd spot of blogging!
One of the most guilt-assuaging theories from the book I read ('Perfect Madness' by Judith Warner) was about this very issue. While giving our children time and affection is obviously important, Judith Warner discusses studies, and relates comments made by educators, which suggest that the modern concept of child care - of interacting for hours, providing numerous activities, directing their play by joining all their games - may not be ideal. Teachers are beginning to despair of children who are not only self-centred (after having non-stop parental attention), but who are also unable to play spontaneously, to create, to think for themselves. Who knew? It turns out talking to your kids every now and then as they play, maybe giving them a few props to play with (dress ups, Lego, even cardboard boxes!) and just letting them explore their world with our intermittent participation .... just doing what a lot of us do anyway.....turns out that is thought to be just fine.
Oh, what a relief. We're doing OK after all. Join with me now as I sigh happily.....ahhhhhhh!