Spend Enough Time Enjoying Your Kid

April 26, 2011 in Fatherhood Insights  

Spend Enough Time Enjoying Your Kid

I was turned on to this interesting article at Freakonomics.com and it’s definitely worthy of being passed on to you.

I’m not a researcher guy, I don’t do well with stats (or facts) – they make me uncomfortable. This article is short and sweet and doesn’t bore you with “proof.” So I highly recommend you give it a read.

Here’s an interesting quote:

“With a few exceptions, adoption and twin researchers find that nature overpowers nurture, especially in the long-run. Kids aren’t like clay that parents mold for life; they’re more like flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but returns to its original shape when the pressure is released.”

And a really good one:

“Parents spend too much effort trying to mold their kids for the future, and not enough just enjoying life together.”

That last one is the kicker; it made me think, “are my son and I enjoying our life together? Should I focus more on that? Have I ever focused on that?”

So, I wanted to pass this along because it made me ask those questions… they’re good questions… you should ask them of yourself too. Take, read.

Please Comment & Add Your Voice!

Courtney April 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

This makes perfect sense. In fact some of the most useful advice my own Mom (who had four boys) told me was “it’s better to enjoy being together in front of the T.V. if that means your not stressed out and barking at them.”

I interpret this as being with your kids, no matter what you are doing or how mindless, can/is/will be better for everyone than always trying to stick to some constructed principal like “T.V. is bad and I’m going to create uber humans that are above the din of pop culture”… or something…

As a single parent this was a sanity-saving piece of advice. Sometimes the only way to get dinner on the table is to flip on the tube or netflix or whatever. I still feel like too much t.v is bad but whatever… I’m going to feel less guilty about that than I would if I spent an evening snapping at them because I’m tired.

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Chase April 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

@courtney If your mom thinks it’s a good deal, then I’m in!

Yea, this has totally effected the way I look at little situations… I guess it’s just picking your battles. “Hey, Aiden? Please come over here and not over there” Then he keeps walking over there looking at me puppy-dog style while he slowly shuffles along, testing me. Then I think to myself, ‘do i really want to push him on this one? is this going to change his life? Maybe we just have a little fun here,’ and go walking around that corner into the field with him… play with Aslan’s poop (rainbow colors).

Ends up being great. I’m really grateful for this lil’ reading.

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Courtney April 26, 2011 at 11:26 am

PICK YOUR BATTLES. Or you’ll die battling… #dadfail

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JB April 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Glad you posted this, because I am a teacher, and don’t want my kids to grow to loathe their time with me because they will ALWAYS have to learn something and miss out on just being kids wit their dad. I had a sibling who would never just play with me; every instance was an opportunity to “challenge” me to be a better 9-year-old? This is a great thing to get people, especially dads, talking about.

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Chase April 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for commenting JB. Glad you dig this too!

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Jason April 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Sup Apprentice,
A good reminder. I’m battling this within myself on a daily basis. Yesterday I found my Little Man methodically rolling the toilet paper into the toilet. I chose not to freak and tore off the last bit, had him finish it off and flush it before saying, “Good job, buddy! Now all done, let’s go out.” He left happy, not in tears after getting blasted by his old man. Enjoy it, not try to mold. The molding happens regardless. I’ll try to remember that.

J.

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chasereeves April 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Ugh, so true! Perfect example. That’s exactly the kind of stuff I’ve been noticing… good work sir.

SuperDuperDadNY April 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

There’s much I can relate to here… but as someone who has adopted his son I’d be curious to hear more about this nature/nurture aspect. I know quite a few kids who were clearly shaped to a very deep extent by their upbringing.

That said, I am currently locked in heated battle with my 10 year old to try and get him to stop his constant chewing on his nails and now even the skin around the fingers. (Thanks, Mom!) I’ve started to stop myself from saying anything while we ponder a different approach since as the article states, it leaves neither of us happy. Also, the one thing I ask him to do that he’s not crazy about is guitar/music lessons and it’s not going to well, to be honest. (I give the lessons myself and it’s like pulling teeth.)

So, although we have TONS of fun, maybe I need to take it up a notch and, as the limeys might say, TREBLE the fun. Oy vey.

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Courtney April 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

@Superduperdadny

I think the nurture/nature thing is totally open for debate as well. It’s still debated in academic circles anyway so it’s definitely something to keep in mind. I worry about this in regards to my own kids now that their parents are split. I know my 3 and 5 year old are frustrated and a bit angry and don’t know why. Just last night by son dumped a bunch of stuff on me he remembered from a very bad argument my ex and I had at the beginning of the break up. Had know idea he remember stuff so clearly, let alone heard what he did. I know that has shaped him to this point. I want to over-compensate and try to ‘shape him another way’ sometimes.

The article reaffirmed what I think Jason above exemplified in not “blasting” his kids for something that is TOTALLY ANNOYING but pretty harmless. I’ve reacted to stuff like that. But I gotta remind myself that a roll of TP is pretty worthless compared to those moments in the house that you can choose to enjoy. I believe the enjoyment shapes them. It has to. I think the rules, and discipline and getting occasionally blasted by Dad does as well and is just as necessary. They have to be balanced though. Can’t have one with out the other.

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