"I completely and violently disagree with this concept of ‘weekend parenting’. Parenting, in my humble opinion, is not just about hanging out with the kids and having a great time – that is what they have friends for. And I am of the firm view that I am not interested in being Ayaan’s friend (at least not until he has become an adult in every sense of the word) – my job is to be his mother." -Rohini, Mama Says SoRohini, a full-time working mom, was writing in response to an article about "weekend parenting," a new trend emerging in the middle class in India. Sadly, it's a trend that has been in existence here for years, whether it has been called by that name or not.
I pity the parents who do not feel that it is important to participate in their children's daily lives. "Quality time" is what happens at the most unexpected moments of "quantity time."
Today, on the way home from our walk, Jude came out with one of his "Did you know...?" questions.
"Mom, did you know that bats eat mosquitoes? And flies?"
"Yep, you're right."
"What else do they eat?"
"You know what, I'm not exactly sure. Why don't we look it up?"
We were approaching our front yard, so we went right into the house and looked up bats in a Childcraft book on animals. It gave us a brief overview, but it wasn't enough to satisfy Jude--he wanted to look them up on the internet, too. So Wikipedia was our next resource, where we learned all kinds of things about bats, including the fact that they are viviparous, like humans. This reminded me that Jude has asked several times lately about how babies come out of people, so while we were on Wikipedia, I looked up the "pregnancy" entry and was able to show him diagrams of a baby growing in utero, and explain how when the baby got big enough, the mommy pushed it out through the vagina. He was amazed at how small babies start out, and how weird they looked at first. Then he asked me a few questions about when he was a baby. Finally, he felt like he was satisfied for the moment, and we went to make some sandwiches for lunch.
This is only one "quality" moment of many that hide in the quantity of moments in my day where only a parent will do. For instance, I teach my children the Alphabet Song or other "educational" songs by singing it to them while I brush their teeth. An alternative caregiver, or even a well-trained teacher, cannot replace having a parent involved in their children's lives day in and day out, who cares way more than anyone else about what their child learns, what attitudes they have and who wants to keep their love of learning and curiosity alive.
E.g. Jason and I believe that talking about having a baby is NOT taboo for a five-year-old, but some people may have been uncomfortable answering that question for someone else's child the way I did for my own.
Also, how can one hope to correct anything they see that they don't like about their children in two days on a weekend?
If all a parent wanted was a hobby and a tax deduction, start a home-based network marketing business. There are plenty of "daily" parents who would love to share their kids with you for a few hours on the weekend so you can get your "kid fix." But those are the parents who are NOT willing to give up their rights to train their own children 98% of the time.
Thank you, Rohini, for your thoughtful post on this subject. I hope that it will help some of your readership re-evaluate their own priorities.