DH works out of the home all day, but when he gets home at night and on the weekends, he needs to be in the office on the computer. When DS asks him to play, DH will put off what he's doing to accommodate DS's request. To read, play ball, whatever. He says he feels bad for DS and always tries to accommodate him because DS "needs a playmate." I happen to disagree. We are his parents, not his playmates, and we don't always have to be his source of entertainment. In fact, I strongly feel that we could be doing him a great disservice, by always coming up with something to do with him, when really, he should be learning to use his imagination and creativity to find something to do on his own, you know? Plus, whenever DH does this, he winds up having to stay up in the wee hours of the night, finishing paperwork, and ultimately, he sacrifices sleep and that has a trickle down effect on all of us.
I have to say that I agree with your husband 100% on this point. He sounds like he is being a great dad. Sometimes work needs to wait while the more important things take priority, like interacting with your young children and building a relationship and memories. I understand how hard it can be when a parent needs to work into the wee hours and gets exhausted because of it, but I still believe family times is a priority. Even two hours of attention, play, and love in the evening can make a world of difference to a child and to a family.
I know how heartbroken my daughter and husband would be if, after a full day of work out of the home, he had dinner and then needed to lock himself in the home office, only to come out for a quick "goodnight" before bedtime. They would essentially have a non-relationship if they did not get one-on-one time together.
Same goes for on the weekend. Weekends are not completely free for us, but we make sure that our daughter gets lots of family time; all three of us together, and also some one-on-one special time with her papa or me.
These years go by SO FAST, and then they are gone forever. I don't think of it so much as "We are his parents, not his playmates, and we don't always have to be his source of entertainment." To me it feels more like, "We are his parents and we teach through play, interaction, reading, and talking how our child will live in this world and how he will experience it."
Children need to play with, work with, help out and be with their parents and other adults. It is how they learn life skills, how they grow, how they learn to interact with other people, and it makes them feel loved and cherished. At our preschool we had a big sign near the door, "A child's play is their work." I loved that sign because it reminded me that children's play isn't all about them being entertained and out of our hair (though there are times when that is necessary!). Children's play is how they experience the work, how they learn. How our children play now will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Yes, I agree that it is important for children to learn self reliant play. At age five my daughter was able to color for an hour, play in the garden for 45 minutes, etc. I needed those independant play breaks, but I never expected them to last more than 45 minutes to an hour. My daughter needed to be able to "check in' frequently, and the majority of hear learning came when I was available to her. At the age of almost-eight is so confident and independent, but she still loves to play with us, and still learns through playing.Edited by tinuviel_k - 5/25/11 at 10:35am