Enjoying Your Child–Priceless
Parenting is hard work. We have schedules to keep, dinners to prepare, messes to clean up, occupational demands, yards to keep, clothes to wash…. The work never ends. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day activities of life and in providing for our children, teaching our children, and disciplining our children that we forget to enjoy our children. So, I encourage you to enjoy your child. Spend an evening playing games with them. Go into the back yard and play. Sit on the porch and play cards. Some of my best memories of childhood involve playing board games with my family. Some of my happiest times as an adult also involve playing board games with my family. You don’t have to play board games. You can play imaginative games like “Teacher” (of course your child will probably be the teacher and you the student), Barbie’s, army, catch.
I remember playing Barbie’s with my daughter during her preschool years. Sometimes, we had differences of opinion regarding the direction of the play. I wanted to make Ken to fly, have Barbie ride horseback on a giant bug, or join forces to fight the bad guys and save the world; my daughter wanted to dress Ken and Barbie up, go to a party, and sit by the pool, drink tea, and talk. I still cherish the memory of those times of play in spite of our different ideas. I learned so much about my daughter while playing Barbie’s with her. As she made up various scenarios, I learned about her interests and her friends. I learned what aroused fear in her as we acted out various scenes. Under her direction and supervision, we enacted meeting new people, resolving arguments, getting along during disagreements, and sharing important life events… unintentionally practicing a variety of life skills through imaginative interactions.
I also watched my daughter grow more capable in managing her emotions. She would get somewhat frustrated with me at times–I guess I am a frustrating guy at times. After all, I didn’t “talk like Barbie,” my voice was too low. She insisted that I speak in falsetto. In spite of my efforts, I would slip up and she would have to make adjustments–“Oh, you have a cold today, don’t you?” or “Daddy, that’s the wrong voice.” I would quickly slip back into my falsetto. Each time though, she became more efficient at handling her emotions when things did not go as she planned. When she let me play Ken, I would “tease her,” suggesting that Ken could fly. She would calmly insist that Ken could not fly and restate the order of the “proper scene” for me. On occasion, she would even compromise. “OK Daddy, today he can fly. Just this time though.” The skills gained in compromise and negotiation…all from playing Barbie.
Perhaps most important, playing Barbie allowed me to spend time with my daughter and develop a more intimate relationship. I don’t even know if she remembers playing Barbie with me. But, I know that those imaginative moments allowed us to laugh together, celebrate imagined and real victories together, and share sorrow over imagined and real loses together. Over all, imaginative moments with Barbie allowed my daughter and me to build a deeper and more secure bond in our relationship. If you don’t get hand-me downs, here is a price list to gain the equipment necessary to play Barbie with your daughter: Barbie doll-$12; clothes for Barbie-$10, time with my daughter building our relationship-priceless!