There are valid reasons we can't be present with our children
Parents believe that their children and family time are the most valuable facets of their life, gifting them true joy and happiness.
Yet in western culture, we are driven away from the bliss of spending time with our children in several aspects:
All of these rob us from being present with our children. Spending quality time with our family is the one thing that we all pay lip service to being the most important aspect of our lives, but we can’t seem to follow through on the joy of being present with them because of these hard and very real barriers.
I used to search for all the age-appropriate activities I could do with the kids (I still do but have toned it down a bit). I also still consume a lot of parenting books (working on toning down).
While I was able to check off boxes and watch my daughter engage in different activities, I didn’t feel that immense amount of joy in being present with her. This is partly because of the barriers discussed above, but also because of the types of activities involved.
It is basic but was not obvious to me at all. There is the child’s interest and then there are your interests.
Common wisdom in parenting is that you need to overindex on the kids’ happiness in order to be more fulfilled in parenting. Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project found more joy when she worked on spending more time with her children in drawn out games even though it is not in her nature to enjoy those activities. Similarly she will go through the pain of assembling the birthday party because of the outcomes of the children’s happy faces and memories.
I understand it. Because like all mothers, I want the best for and with my children.
But what if there could be a way that I get benefit from the activity itself? We make friends with people who have shared interests. Everything is so natural and not forced when there is a common goal, value, hobby between you and the person you are spending time with.
Why can’t my child and I engage in a shared interest? That’s why I started to experiment with activities I enjoyed and observed if my daughter would take to them. Sometimes it didn’t work. But with enough experimenting, something did.
I bought an electronic keyboard so that I could make music and compose songs amateur style. My daughter is the main composer, banging the keys and singing off key. No formal piano lessons here. Just pure fun for music and learning enthusiasts.