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We aren't our children's playmates and entertainment...

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Can someone please help me to fully understand the concept of not being our children's playmate and entertainer. I understand that we need to model the archetepal (?) movements of daily chores, quietness, peacefulness, etc... But to what extent. Thanks for your comments.
post #2 of 55
My daughter has a non-playmate orientation with her two children, 7 and 3 1/2. It doesn't mean that she never plays with them, but when she does it is usually in a fairly specific way. Finger-rhymes, reading a book, carrying out a household task together (today my grandson was helping her with laundry).

She feels that children play better if their play is not adult directed or guided. Her role is to provide a safe space, to figure out the framework and the rules (we take turns on the sleds), to provide the right sort of toys and also to observe what is going on to try to spot problems.

She runs a small home daycare, and puts a lot of energy into encouraging the children to play with each other in a healthy way. It mostly works pretty well. When the little girl who stays for her afternoon nap got up, she also started helping with the laundry. My dd and I were in the other room, cleaning up the nap area. DD went into the kitchen where the two children were watching the washing machine wash (as good as TV) and her son gave her a dirty look. He was explaining to his little friend about how the washer and dryer work and he didn't want any silly grown up interfering with his exposition on the topic.
post #3 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
She feels that children play better if their play is not adult directed or guided. Her role is to provide a safe space, to figure out the framework and the rules (we take turns on the sleds), to provide the right sort of toys and also to observe what is going on to try to spot problems.
How does she handle it when her daughter (you said daughter, right?) specifically asks her to play with her? I have 2 boys who play together *very* well (side note: I'm so pleased with the direction their imaginative play has gone since we stopped letting them watch TV regularly!), but I still sometimes get "Mom, will you play <whatever> with us?". It would have never even occurred to me to tell them no (well unless there are other things I must be doing), so I'm curious what she does.
post #4 of 55
Well, she has established herself as a non-playmate from birth, except under special circumstances, so the children only ask her to join them when it is something unusual or she volunteers.

For example, my gd borrowed candyland (the game) from my library. My daughter was pleased that gd was learning about board games, but not happy with the sugary theme. As an alternative she suggested that they make up their own game. She drew out a board, gd colored in the squares, they both added pictures and shortcuts and stuff. Then they used a paperplate to make a spinner and gd colored it. After all that they played the game!

The kids hang out near their mom and talk to her while she works. Sometimes they will be working on a project: knitting or coloring, or painting.

Grandparents are fair game as playmates, however! My daughter does discourage me from getting involved in make believe games--they work better between children--but I do go sledding with them, play board games, build stuff with blocks, zoom cars back and forth with my grandson.

There are two core principles I think. One is that parents should be clear that their work of running the house is important and not to be constantly interrupted by demands for entertainment from children (can be interrupted by things like potty visits, of course) and the other is that children do need to learn how to direct their own interests, which they won't if they are constantly getting input from adults.

Hard to change the pattern if the children do think of their parents as entertainment, of course.
post #5 of 55

I absolutely agree with the above. My boys are incredibly self entertaining and creative. I am so pleased with the level of their independence and self confidence. I was actually in awe of a project my 4 y.o. created yesterday while I was cleaning in prep. for the inlaws....it was such an incredibly detailed and well constructed (from the recycling tub materials) flying (and submersible) Batmobile...

We do have several friends who play constantly with their kids (same ages) and the children are dependent upon the parents to direct and continue their play. On their own, the kids tend to vye (sp?) for attention.

Our neighbor (same age) has the same philos as us and it's a delight to have her come over and to watch them all create and play.
post #6 of 55
See, I guess I just don't understand. I'm fairly new to Waldorf, so maybe that's it. My kids play on their own a *lot*. They invent all sorts of games, and construct all sorts of things with their Legos, or blocks, or paper, or... So I don't feel that we've stunted their creativity at all. But sometimes they do ask one of us to play with them. I see it more as "mom/dad, I want you to interact with you socially" rather than "I want you to entertain me". I realize they can interact with us socially in our home tasks, and they do (a *lot*), but I guess to me it just seems natural that they would want that on their "turf" sometimes, too? Now that I think of it more, it almost seems to be more of them wanting to show us what they've come up with than anything, although they do want me to participate along with them at these times.

I guess it doesn't matter because I'm comfortable with how I'm raising my children in this respect, I was just curious because I've never really heard of this specific philosophy.
post #7 of 55
But, it sounds like you're not directing their activity or initiating their projects for them. For ME, that's a big factor.
post #8 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah View Post
Well, she has established herself as a non-playmate from birth, except under special circumstances, so the children only ask her to join them when it is something unusual or she volunteers.

There are two core principles I think. One is that parents should be clear that their work of running the house is important and not to be constantly interrupted by demands for entertainment from children (can be interrupted by things like potty visits, of course) and the other is that children do need to learn how to direct their own interests, which they won't if they are constantly getting input from adults..
This is exactly how things work in my house. I don't play with my kids and they don't expect me to. I may help them set things up; show them how to make a marble chute with the blocks or whatever. And of course I read to them all the time and they love to help me with cooking, etc. But I don't play games with them or join in their play. Partly because, as Deborah said, I have other work to do, but also because playing with them bores me out of my mind. I've been that age, I've done that play, and now it's their turn. I just don't see it as my role. Play is their role.
post #9 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by BusyMommy View Post
But, it sounds like you're not directing their activity or initiating their projects for them. For ME, that's a big factor.
That's true, I'm not. About the only thing I even somewhat direct is I will offer up the opportunity to do something like painting. And that's because that's an activity I have to specifically prep the kitchen for (remove/cover tablecloth, etc.), so it's not an activity that's immediately available to them whenever they want it. And even then it's not "let's paint now, boys", it's more, "hey guys, would you like to paint?" (which is usually met with a resounding "YES!"). Other than that, I might offer an activity that I think they haven't thought about, especially if they seem to be in a creativity slump (rare, but it happens), but I don't direct a lot of stuff (and it never really occurred to me to).

I guess I did find myself directing more before I cut out TV, because I was combating the "we wanna watch TV and are too brain-numbed to figure out anything else to do" syndrome. I'm so glad to be out of that now.
post #10 of 55
This is a very interesting concept to me, but we only got as far as the parent&me class in Waldorf. Where could I get more information on this subject?
post #11 of 55
: I totally agree w/that.

In fact : I'm going to let them paint the bathroom today. So, I *do* have to prep that one. BUt, I am going to step back once they have their little paint brushes and paints and just "let it be."
post #12 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by BusyMommy View Post
: I totally agree w/that.

In fact : I'm going to let them paint the bathroom today. So, I *do* have to prep that one. BUt, I am going to step back once they have their little paint brushes and paints and just "let it be."
That is such a great idea! Our whole house needs to be painted (still all white walls from when we moved in in 1998 : ). We've been having discussions about how they want to paint their room...we should totally do this!
post #13 of 55
I probably shouldn't get involved in this thread...but...I was wondering why it is seen as problematic to allow children to choose or "direct" their own play. I have been reading up on Steiner's ideas, and am currently getting into Children at Play by Heidi Britz-Crecelius, and it seems my kids are sort of naturally developing some pretty intense imaginations, but I just can't wrap my brain around this avoidance of letting myself stop and play with them.
My kids are almost 2 and almost 4 and they rarely ask me to play . They create things and develop drama beautifully. I have never intended to avoid being my child's playmate. In fact, there are times when I really enjoy being involved. When I think back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories involve activities with my mom or dad.
So, what is the damage being done with my sitting at their level and enjoying time with them?? (I am actually asking opinions here ).
Thanks!
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by dillonandmarasmom View Post
I probably shouldn't get involved in this thread...but...I was wondering why it is seen as problematic to allow children to choose or "direct" their own play.
Well, I think everyone but me was saying that they *should* choose and direct their own play. And even I'm not saying that they shouldn't, but was questioning not participating in their play at all (specifically, when they ask me to, which isn't terribly often).

Edited to correct typo
post #15 of 55
What if you have only one child?
post #16 of 55
Wow. What a fascinating thread. I have no inclination to play with my daughter, really, and I often feel guilty about it. This is really interesting.
post #17 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by luvmy2boys View Post
Well, I think everyone but me was saying that they *should* choose and direct their own play. And even I'm not saying that they shouldn't, but was questioning not participating in their play at all (specifically, when they ask me to, which isn't terribly often).

Edited to correct typo
hmmm, i think i misunderstood.
can you relate to my wanting to enjoy time playing with them?
post #18 of 55
Yes, I absolutely can. At the same time, I do want them to have the ability to play on their own (i.e., not follow me around the house every moment that I'm not playing with them because they can't create anything on their own). I think our house has a good balance of that...the kids play alone most of the time. By "alone" I mean they are creating and engaged in their own games. One or both parents is there, and they frequently check in with a brief "look what I made" or "we're pretending <blah, blah, blah>". But sometimes they ask me to participate, or watch what scenario they've come up with on their train tracks, or whatever, which I will do (but I don't drop everything and do it). And sometimes I sit down with them and paint, or draw, or read, or scrapbook, or whatever because I want to spend the time with them.

All just my opinion, and what works for me and my family, of course.
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by luvmy2boys View Post
Yes, I absolutely can. At the same time, I do want them to have the ability to play on their own (i.e., not follow me around the house every moment that I'm not playing with them because they can't create anything on their own). I think our house has a good balance of that...the kids play alone most of the time. By "alone" I mean they are creating and engaged in their own games. One or both parents is there, and they frequently check in with a brief "look what I made" or "we're pretending <blah, blah, blah>". But sometimes they ask me to participate, or watch what scenario they've come up with on their train tracks, or whatever, which I will do (but I don't drop everything and do it). And sometimes I sit down with them and paint, or draw, or read, or scrapbook, or whatever because I want to spend the time with them.

All just my opinion, and what works for me and my family, of course.
This sounds like a perfect balance. Especially if it works for your family.

The main thing to avoid is children who expect their parent(s) to be totally on call for their amusement: sort of like live videos:
post #20 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by dillonandmarasmom View Post
So, what is the damage being done with my sitting at their level and enjoying time with them?? (I am actually asking opinions here ).Thanks!
I don't think there is any damage done by this if you want to do it and if they don't require your presence every time they sit down to play.

FTR, I don't have this "hands-off" attitude toward play with my kids as a result of Waldorf philosophy (although I did go to a WS for years). It's just my particular style. If vrooming cars around and creating elaborate wooden block towers interested me, I'd be doing it with the boys. But it doesn't.
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