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Parenting Advice #2 January 4, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Football, Parenting/Children.

The second big piece of parenting advice came from my mother-in-law. Now, to suggest that I saw eye-to-eye with her is wildly inaccurate, but it’s just as inaccurate to portray her as my nemesis. Regardless of my feelings about her, I realized that she knew a thing or two about childrearing, so I paid attention to her advice (which I received, whether I wanted it or not :D) In short form, her most oft-quoted advice was this:

Don’t send your children places; Go with them.

At first, this advice seemed a bit strange. After all, I don’t have much choice about sending them to school. I can’t very well go with them to every place they go. However, as I reflected on this statement years later (when I was torn between watching my oldest son’s football practice and just dropping him off so I could catch some TV), it started to sink in.

What she was really saying was, “Make investments in the interests of your child. Immerse yourself in what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.” This has direct benefits to the child, who understands very well that you could be doing other things, but it also has intangible benefits.

For example, during that football season, I became friends with several parents of other players, and soon realized that I knew quite a bit about the friends my son had made. I knew there were some houses where my son would be very closely supervised, and others where he would not. I was able to make assessments about where I might want him to play based on that.

In addition, engaging with other parents this way created a brand-new circle of friends. At that point, my social circles were largely work and church. Even though some of the parents attended church, few of them went to the same church we did, so it created a broader social network for me, exposing me to other viewpoints and thoughts, particularly with regard to raising sons.

Lastly, going with my sons to places has created a shared set of experiences that extend far beyond vacations or other organized “family time.” Family therapists and counsellors have been advocating “forced family time” for awhile, as it creates many of these types of bonds. (Nothing like being forced to figure out how to get along with your older brother, who also has to get along with you, since there’s nobody else to play with.) By going with my sons to practice, listening to what’s happened, and even participating (I coached them at various levels for eight years), has given us a rich catalogue of stories to tell, and memories to share.

So yes, send your kids to school, send them to their rooms, and drop them off for at a friend’s house to play. At the same time, go with them to church, go with them to extracurricular things, and take them to see interesting places and things.


1. A Fool and his Words are Soon Parted » Parenting Advice #4 - January 6, 2006

[…] Lastly, all of this goes out the window if you use these activities as a way of babysitting. If your kids are involved in something, and you’re not consistently there to share it with them, something is wrong. […]

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