I have a confession to make. Back when the weather was really nice, there were a number of days when I spent perhaps a grand total of five minutes with my children from the time they got home from school until we ate dinner. No educational activities together, no family bonding time, no outings. I just let them play. For the most part, I knew where they were. They played with each other and with other neighborhood kids, rotating between their houses and ours. They played in the huge cardboard box-turned-play-fort in our yard, climbed trees, and had a great time. From time to time they’d wander in for a snack or a drink, but mostly they kept to themselves. I learned later that some of the things they did included killing bees with a baseball bat, “fixing” the cardboard fort with a hammer and nails, and patrolling the neighborhood like secret agents with their Nerf guns to keep us safe. I guess I’m glad I didn’t know what they were doing after all! So now I ask you- does that make me a bad parent? After all, who would let their kids run around mostly unsupervised for three hours? What kind of parent would let their kids use a hammer and nails without adult supervision? Or kill bees with a baseball bat, supervised or not? Or for that matter, play with toy guns? And besides, shouldn’t parents be spending time with their kids, playing games, reading books, going to museums, building memories? What kind of a parent does these things anyhow? Turns out, a good one.
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