Parenting Tools

"Learn to be foolish!"

You could call that the upshot of tonight's big event, ParentMap's "parents' night out" reception and panel discussion. Oh, sure, there was some heavy-hitting parenting philosphizing going on: How much material stuff is too much? Can we afford to slow our parenting down (i.e. pull the kids out of preschool quantum physics classes) without dooming them to an unfulfilling life of menial labor? All of it very angsty. Until Eric Liu - former Clinton speechwriter and state Board of Ed member - tossed it out there: What we really need to do is ask ourselves if we're ready to play.

Are you ready to play?

The question is, are you ready to get down on the floor and really connect with your kids, play with them, meet them at eye level? Turns out, it's that connection, more than any classes or collection of Stuff, that will make them successful and happy human beings. Simple, straightforward, and best of all, free.

Liu was also once a senior policy advisor to President Clinton, who apparently got the message about "play" just fine. But Liu was eloquent in his point, "If we are able and willing with our all failings to establish that authentic relationship with our children ... they'll open up and play with us."

Or as panelist Jody McVittie put it, "Be committed to modeling exuberant foolishness."

The upshot? Parent in the moment. Call it "slow parenting," call it "attachment parenting," call it "I just got laid off;" I just call it a darn fun way to raise kids. And fun is why I had kids, after all.

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