Q: I know that this is a bit childish on my part but I find that during the summer, I would rather not spend time with my son and his wife. I love them dearly, but I have a difficult time watching them with their children.
The big thing appears to be “I’m bored.” Whenever one of the children says that he or she is bored, the parents hop to it and try their best to either entertain him or her or ship the kids off to a movie or to some kind of a summer program to amuse them. I think that is wrong. It seems to me that it is up to the child to figure out what he or she is going to do to make life interesting.
The question is how do I get my son and his wife to understand this? Whenever I so much as hint at what they might do, they accuse me of interfering and ask me to let them do what they think is right.
A: If you offer your views without solicitation, then you are interfering.
Many parents today are busy trying to entertain their children and think that they are responsible for keeping kids engaged.
In doing so, they are depriving their children of the opportunity to nurture active imaginations. They are working against moments of creativity that are so important to a child’s intellectual development.
We learned this through raising our own kids. How many moments of frustration did you have to endure as a parent before you finally figured out that your children needed to be responsible for themselves? You need to let your son and his wife figure it out for themselves, just as you and countless other parents have.
You also need to understand that the world in which your son and his wife are raising their children is different. In the past, we sent our kids outside to play, with few of the current concerns of abduction and abuse.
Today’s parents are cautious.
Kids playing outside have to be within sight of a parent, and that communal support system, in which parents worked together to protect all the children, is not nearly as strong as it used to be.
Even if your son and his wife understand that their children need to be more responsible for their own happiness, the world is to some extent working against them. They are expected to be more protective and more involved with their children .
Your job is to support and love your son, his wife and your grandchildren. Trust that they will figure out for themselves those relationships that are going to best serve the children in the world today.