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My mom rarely played with me when I was a kid. Nope, she never got on the floor to play Barbies. She never played house or school with us. She didn’t create arts and crafts with us, either. And you know what? My brothers and I—we turned out just fine. Even more, we love her more than anything on this planet. 

Our mother loved us daily despite the fact that she didn’t play with us. The fact that we don’t have many memories of our mother getting on her hands and knees playing with us doesn’t affect our fierce love for her. To us, she is the greatest mother of all-time. And I admit, I wish things today were just as they were back then. 

But they’re not. 

Today, parents feel immense pressure to always be present with their children. Make everything from scratch, put your phones down, and play make-believe with your kids. Keep your kids incessantly busy, too. Sign them up for all of the summer and after-school activities. While although I understand the necessity to not be engrossed into screens, I am not buying into the societal need to constantly play with my kids and be present with them all day long. Yes, I understand that my children will “only be little once,” but I also feel that they need to be left alone to enjoy their childhood, too. 

It may sound harsh, but there is too much pressure on parents today. And kids, they need to learn to just be. No, they don’t need a screen or a parent constantly entertaining them—they should be able to create their own fun. Go outside and explore their own backyard—collect a bunch of rocks for crying out loud. Knock on the neighbor’s door and play with them—just like we did when we were kids. If our children are bored, that’s on them, not us to play with them hourly. 

Yes, I will continue to be present with my kids by turning my phone off, playing soccer in the yard, and reading on the couch. But I refuse to be my kids’ only source of entertainment. I’m sure they can figure it out on their own. And just like I love my mom despite her rarely playing with me, I’m sure mine will, too. Because I will enjoy my children being little only once, but not every second. And I won’t let guilt or the societal pressure get in my way.

 
 

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Angela Anagnost-Repke

Angela-Anagnost Repke is a writer and writing instructor dedicated to raising two empathetic children. She hopes that her graduate degrees in English and counseling help her do just that. Since the pandemic, Angela and her family have been rejuvenated by nature and moved to northern Michigan to allow the waves of Lake Michigan to calm their spirits. She has been published in Good Housekeeping, Good Morning America, ABC News, Parents, Romper, and many more. She is currently at-work on her nonfiction parenting book, Wild Things by Nature: How an Unscientific Parent Can Give Nature to Their Wild Things. Follow Angela on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  

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