I Ignore My Children

I Ignore My Children

I have a question for you: as a parent, are you aloof? Do you ignore your children? If someone were to peep into your home at various times through the day, would they see you cuddling your children? Or would they notice how everyone was in different rooms doing different things?

Now, wait. Don’t be too quick to answer. And be slower even to assign guilt. That last one is harder to do than it looks.

I Ignore my Children

I do. They wake up in the morning and make their own breakfast. They clean up, do the dishes while I get ready for the day. Only then do we meet at the dining room table to go over what they have done for their sit down work. Only then do we cover history and science and maybe a readaloud.

What I’m trying to get at is this: Do I love my children? Fiercely so. But do I think that love needs to be expressed in terms of constant supervision and physical proximity? That gets an absolute resounding no.

But then Again…

You see, we say this and we even half believe it. I know you’re agreeing with me right now, but I bet the next bit of parenting advice you read on the internet is going to ask you to cherish your children. And you’re going to be back to blaming yourself for not watching their every move.

Remember the mom who posted on Facebook that her children looked at her and sought her smile and her approval something like 48 times in 15 minutes or something? And she concluded from this “experiment” that if she had been looking at her phone, she would have missed “all that.”

Well, okay, but she would have missed all that if she had been doing the dishes or cooking or cleaning as well.

Here’s the thing: good mothering does not equal constant attention. You cannot tell if someone is being a good mom or not by peeking in their homes and checking to see how many times the children and the mother are in close physical proximity – or, as in this case – the mom is dotingly watching her children play.

Somehow I think I would be hard pressed to find mothers at any time in history as concerned with how much time they are spending staring into their children’s doe eyes.

Huge Ramifications for Homeschooling

The reason I get so riled up about this is because in a lot of ways this kind of thinking can break your homeschooling. If you think that the only way to be a good mother is to be a constantly attentive mother, you will burn out.

Leave them alone for a bit! They might just surprise you. You might have to work with them a little to steer them in the right direction, but this is just like training them to read or do math.

This is the part that my friends who don’t homeschool don’t get. And this – in a nutshell – is the devil in the details. This, my friends, is the beauty of homeschooling. And the fact that we leave them alone for a while – to do things on their own, to learn and struggle – is precisely the reason why homeschoolers outperform public schoolers in almost every statistic you can throw at them.

Love your kids, yes, but ignore them sometimes. It’s okay to be aloof. It’s okay to be in the other room, for goodness’ sake! It’s okay to leave a toddler with a few toys and tell him to play by himself for a while. And yes, it’s okay to take a shower! What in the world are we thinking?!

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at http://TheClassicalUnschooler.com - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

4 thoughts on “I Ignore My Children”

  1. Thank you for this! I needed the reminder. My son has a lot of alone time, because I work from home. I’m also very much an introvert and like to read 🙂 I struggle with thinking I should be spending more time with him, but then getting burnt out when I try to do it too much. I have to remind myself that I’m letting him explore on his own… And that he’s developing the ability to entertain himself which I think is a big skill to have! But I love letting him go in our backyard and dig in the dirt and find bugs and just explore with nobody guiding his actions.

    1. Yes! This is me, too. I have only one child, who is extremely extraverted, and I go back and forth about my feelings about this. I crave me time and need work time, but I don’t want to pawn my son off to be watched or have play dates all the time. I hate those comments about how one day you’ll miss……blah, blah. Right now I spend plenty of quality time with my son, and I know we both need time to ourselves. We have a great relationship, and I am just talking about a little time every day. I know it is important for him to learn to play on his own and entertain himself, but he struggles with it and resists it so much, and I struggle with forcing him. It is a daily battle for me, but I am finally realizing it is important for my own sanity and for his, though he doesn’t realize it now, and….it is OK! I was venting to a friend with 5 children, assuming that she could have lots of free time because her children have each other. She gasped and told me about how they have quiet times and independent times in their home every day because she knows the importance of that for each of them. It was an eye opener and a lesson for me. I wish my son would love to read on his own, or build lego creations without my immediate presence or approval, and maybe this will come in time. For now, one thing I have found that works is, I set a timer every day, and a tiny bit longer now and then, for he and I to work or play independently. It is still a struggle some times, and the aftermath of sharing with me all that he contained inside of himself for the time is sometimes overwhelming, but he is getting it. I am feeling better about it.

  2. I am a public school teacher who routinely tells students that I do not have to stare at them for them to do the right thing. Just know there are many public schools teachers who have always taught students in the manner you have suggested. It is not limited to the homeschooled and should not be.

  3. Thank you for saying this! I read so many articles that tell us to have our phones while kids are awake and engage with them seemingly constantly. That’s extremely exhausting as an introverted homeschooling parent and probably not the best thing for them anyways, as you so clearly pointed out.

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