Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much Structure?

(Side note: everyone on Chuck upgraded from iPhone 3GSs last season to iPhone 4s this season. Apparently, at the Buy-More retail chain, they make decent money.)

When I'm watching the children, and when I watch Grandma play with the children, I'm struck by the difference in our styles. I'm not saying one is better than the other; children need a variety of different types of people and perspectives in their lives in order to develop a well-rounded sense of understanding. I think.

Anyway, what I notice is that my parenting style, when playing with the boys, tends to be mostly child-directed. I'll let them play by themselves as much as they want, and I play with them when they want. That has the drawback of having a difficult time getting them to do what I'd like them to do, but it does have the advantage of teaching the children how to entertain themselves. I'm very content to sit and watch them play with their toys, and climb up and down on the furniture. Younger Bro, in particular, is very, very busy and does not sit still for any length of time.

When they want or need interaction, we play together. I help The Boy with puzzles or whatever toy he's got, or tackle or chase him around. The "gonna get you" game is a really, really good one with many different potentialities. Even YB is starting to get involved with that one; when I say, "Gonna get you!", he starts screaming giggles and occasionally starts running away. Sometimes, he'll just fall over, laughing, and wait to be tackled. It's very cute. This morning, YB actually joined me in chasing after The Boy and tackling his big brother.

Grandma, on the other hand, does an amazing job at interacting with the boys. She gets them looking at letters and numbers on the computer, or watching Sesame Street, or doing arts and crafts projects. It's extraordinary to watch. The Boy doesn't willingly do art projects with me, beyond asking me to write letters or numbers on paper or with chalk. And yet, he somehow manages to work with Grandma. Of course, there are tradeoffs... the boys generally don't play "gonna get you" with Grandma, but she doesn't necessarily seem to mind very much.

Kids need different types of people around them, which is one reason that I'm glad that they get to spend so much time with me, with The Wife, with Grandma, with both Grandpas, and the other people with whom he spends time. What do you notice about the people who care for your children?


Sarah R said...

I definitely agree with the well-rounded approach.

My husband likes to let the kids have independence. Andrew will come and tell him when he has to go pee, whereas when I am around, I am more proactive about asking if he has to go (maybe it's just because I am more Type A).

If we go into a store, I prefer to just strap Andrew into the cart because he likes to run. The hubby will give him more independence, even if it's more work.

My mom is just wonderful -- she is very interactive with the children and I love it. Mother-in-law, as well, although her style of parenting is not as "nurturing".

We believe in free play, yet I also enjoy reading to them. I think it helped Andrew to become so advanced in his language skills.

Johanna S said...

I notice that daddy tends to do all the very fun games and that I am the more passive parent! In other words, I am the boring one! We both do puzzles, letters, etc. I also notice that if I am around, my mom is not nearly as fun as when I am not around. The other grandma, on the other hand, only gets to see Ari about once a month and so she goes all out! When we are with Nana I do almost nothing with my child for the day! Great post! It must be great to watch the boys starting to play together!

Musical Daddy said...

Yeah, in our house, just like y'all's, Mum provides all the structure to Daddy's freedom. Which is odd, considering how I grew up. My father, still, is a regimented, structured person, with his day consisting of scheduled tasks and a definite routine. My mother had to be structured, don't get me wrong - four boys, with a father that traveled for a living and was a typical Depression-era parent; but, Dad provided the outlines, for sure.