23 Av 5780 / Thursday, August 13, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
 
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Part-Time Parenting    

Part-Time Parenting



How much pressure are you under to get your kids to sleep as quickly as possible so you can have your night? So you can feel like an adult and do things adults do?

 



Recently a friend was telling me about her son’s nightmarish bedtime routine. He used to be a good sleeper as a baby, but recently a bad cold got his schedule all messed up and now he won’t go to sleep unless my friend is in the room.
 
After we laughed over my suggestions of Benadryl, Scotch whiskey, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas), my only other solution was to keep sitting there until he fell asleep.  As any parent knows, this is not a fast process. It could take hours for a kid to fall asleep.
 
Over the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. Something about it bothered me, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Soon enough, though, I got my answer. One night, as I actually had time to read before falling asleep, I was trying to make out what Rav Arush was writing in “Education with Love” as my eyelids were quickly turning into iron curtains, and there it was- the sentence that hit the problem spot-on.
 
Rav Arush was pointing out the importance of a pleasant bedtime routine, and he writes, “Parents should be in the room when the children fall asleep.” And there ya’ go, as my husband says. The problem, I realized, was our westernized method of parenting.
 
Having grown up in a home with an Israeli mentality, I was able to notice lots of differences between the parenting styles of Americans and Israelis. The one thing that I have consistently noticed with Americans was the pressure to have a firm line of separation between parents and children. There was almost a palpable wall that kids and parents were not allowed to break down, lest they get too attached to each other, G-d forbid.
 
Even to this day, it still annoys me in some ways. I still wonder how parents can leave their kids to go on vacation for a week. I’m not saying that I’m right and these parents are wrong; maybe they’re right and I’m wrong. I just wasn’t brought up that way, so I have a hard time understanding it. I can’t even leave my kids with a babysitter to go out for dinner!
 
The point is, western culture has programmed us parents to desire a life that is completely separate from our children. I remember having a short conversation with the husband of a childhood friend. We were talking about our kids and how we should get together one of these days, when he pops out with, “We just want our life back, you know?”
 
Needless to say, that was the last conversation we had. You just want your life back? I felt like giving it to him. What about the three gorgeous children you have? What do you wish, that you never had those kids? For what purpose- so you can go out for dinner more? So you have more time to watch “Homeland”? So you can do absolutely nothing??
 
Anyways his wife posts on facebook every single place they go. They go out all the time! I still honestly can’t figure out what he thinks he’s missing out on. But this is the reality- parents are pressured to continue living the same lifestyle as they did before they had kids. Going out every weekend. Watching prime time TV. Doing what they want, when they want.
 
This type of pressure is ridiculous and unfair. And the worst part is, most parents don’t even realize that they’re being forced into part-time parenting. I know of parents who won’t even talk to their children after bedtime! It’s completely insane!
 
Many parents take at least one vacation a year by themselves. Believe me, I totally understand why they do it. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but it still bothers me for some reason. It’s like saying, “Mommy and Daddy need a vacation from you rotten kids! Sorry, but we simply must have a week or two to ourselves so we can pretend we don’t have any real life responsibilities! Toodles!”
 
I know, I’m crazy.
 
But think about the bedtime routine. How much pressure are you under to get your kids to sleep as quickly as possible so you can have your night? So you can feel like an adult and do things adults do? But what is it most adults do when the kids go to sleep? Watch TV, go for dinner, go to a movie…
 
Most nights I can’t wait for my kids to go to sleep so I can get the laundry folded and the dishes done! Not to mention that the house is actually quiet, which is soooo peaceful- like someone suddenly turned off the blaring music at a house party and everyone is caught in mid-dance. 
 
What’s the problem if my friend would actually enjoy staying by her son’s side until he falls asleep? What exactly would she be missing out on? It’s not like she’s going to be late for work! Look at how much trouble this part-time parenting mentality has caused us. We suffer almost every night trying to get the kids to sleep. But don’t we realize that the kids suffer more? Who said parenting is easy? It’s the most difficult job in the world, and there is tremendous self-sacrifice involved! The problem is that many parents aren’t willing to sacrifice their “free time” putting their kids to bed!
 
Don’t even get me started on the Ferber and Sears sleep training methods. Suffice it to say that I think they’re cruel and inhumane. My first son and I suffered for a week through the Ferber method, and I quickly realized that every time he would get sick or get a new tooth, his schedule would get thrown off. So what was the point? I quickly gave up and resigned myself to not sleeping ever again.
 
Dear parents, the nighttime fights aren’t worth the damage they’re potentially causing in your children. I know it’s hard to sit there while they fidget and laugh and don’t listen to your repeated warnings of, “Be quiet right now or I’m leaving!” But being with them as they fall asleep gives them a wonderful feeling of security that they will remember for the rest of their lives. It can prevent so many fears and anxieties, and is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the special bond you have with them.
 
So if it’s a choice between watching Keifer Sutherland or watching your child’s angelic face as he’s dreaming, I hope you choose the latter…it’s worth every second!





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  6 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  Well said!
Ruth4/16/2013 8:51:40 AM
     
 
  2.
  @interesting
Racheli4/15/2013 8:03:13 PM
     
 
  3.
  Interesting but... continued
Anonymous,4/15/2013 9:19:50 AM
     
 
  4.
  Interesting but... continued
Anonymous,4/15/2013 9:17:54 AM
     
 
  5.
  Interesting but...
Anonymous,4/15/2013 9:15:18 AM
     
 
  6.
  Clarification
Anonymous,4/15/2013 1:29:22 AM
     
 

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