Friday, February 10, 2012

Roughhousing with Dad

I remember a time when I was a new mom, talking with another new mom. Both of our baby girls were a year old. She mentioned the differences between her and her husband playing with the baby: "She's good with me, but with her dad it's a whole different level of fun." I agreed. We moms could coax endless coos and smiles from our precious babies but the cackling and belly laughs?
Those were for Dad when he threw them up in the air.

Then I had more kids, most of them boys. And they started growing up.

Oh, the battles. Sword fights. Kung fu. Dog piles on Dad. Hand-to-hand mortal combat. Well, almost. They all have fun but sometimes they just about to give me a heart attack. That's why The Importance of Roughhousing with Your Kids is such a good read.
We all want kids who end up like Atticus Finch–moral, upright, compassionate. That’s exactly why you need to body slam your kid every now and then.

When we roughhouse with our sons and daughters, they learn boundaries and the difference between right and wrong. If they start hitting hard, aiming below the belt, or becoming malicious, you can reprimand them and then show by example what’s appropriate roughhousing behavior.

Also, roughhousing teaches our children about the appropriate use of strength and power. As I mentioned earlier, when we roughhouse with our kids, we often take turns with the dominant role. Because we’re so much bigger and stronger, we have to handicap ourselves. The implicit message to your child when you hold back is: “Winning isn’t everything. You don’t need to dominate all the time. There’s strength in showing compassion on those weaker than you.”
There's lots more--go read it.

I long ago learned not to sweat much of the rough play that goes on in our house. That doesn't mean I don't think they could benefit from a little maternal moderation every now and then. I mean, we have hardwood floors upstairs, people. Right above my living room. So, I threaten to shut down the game, and Dad will say "Okay, guys, we're scaring Mom," and everyone will good-naturedly (I think) go on their way. Hey, I'm teaching them to advocate for the weak, right?

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