Has this ever happened to you? You just don't feel like playing with your kids. That sounds horrible, I know. So, I googled "how to enjoy children". This is the first thing that came up and it helped me put things into perspective and gave me some practical advice.
By Jeffrey D. Murrah
Do you enjoy your kids? Do others enjoy your kids? Hopefully, as a parent you are able to answer each of these questions in the affirmative. Parenting, like so many areas of life requires us to get our hands dirty. In order to enjoy our children, it is necessary for parents to extend themselves beyond their "comfort zone." Leaving the comfort zone means trying something new, novel and creative with your children.
Some parents attempt raising children without leaving their comfort zone. This type of parenting emphasizes parental convenience at the expense of experiencing childhood. Like window shopping or watching squirrels, children can be admired from a distance. Admiring from a distance is a cheap substitute for enjoying who your children are.
Admiration is important to children, yet doing things with them means more. Children generally crave attention, with calls of "Mommy! Daddy! Look at me!" A way to enjoy them, and them to enjoy you is to join them. This means that instead of just giving them a movie to watch, view it with them. When your children are swimming, join them in the pool. I have seen my own children overjoyed when their grandparents join them in the swimming pool, rather than just observing. After jumping in the pool, try really enjoying your children by splashing and playing instead of floating like an iceberg.
Be creative in finding ways to enjoy your children. Making cookies for them is nice, yet making cookies with them means more. Instead of just watching them play ball, try joining them at times. Playing games with them and reading to them are also ways to enjoy your children. Since the holidays are quickly approaching, look for opportunities to join your children in doing things together.
The word 'enjoy' literally means to enter into a joyous state. To enjoy children involves reaching out and joining them in having fun. As parents join their children, a new reciprocity often develops. Children then start showing an interest in the parents' hobbies or activities. Another benefit is that parents and children know who each other helps to strengthen bonds. Knowing and enjoying who your child is as a person is preferred to what your child does. Enjoying your children also builds their self-confidence and sense of security.
Enjoying children requires effort. It is easier to voyeuristically watch them, snickering at their antics than it is to join them. Watching them can send the message to the child that they are objects for the parent's enjoyment or that they are being made fun of. Joining them sends the message to them, "you are important" and "you have value." Our children look to us for affirmation. It is up to the parents to choose if children are to be put on display or enjoyed.
Jeffrey D. Murrah is a licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Pasadena and La Porte. He can be reached at (713) 944-4335 or his website, restorethefamily.com.