This makes me ache for every child who has no dad to play with, or a father who is present but not available. And it makes me very thankful for my own husband who has been so wonderfully involved with our own three kids and helped them grow to become such fine grown up people.
I appreciate Igniter Media for creating this video showing the empty spaces and places left by missing fathers. It truly reveals the power of parent-child play and especially the impact of playful fathers. Visit Igniter Media’s website at ignitermedia.com and their YouTube channel. You can also find them on Twitter as @IgniterMedia.
In a recent interview with Pathways Professional Counseling (a network of 35 counseling offices in Alabama) I was asked some thought-provoking questions. Here’s a portion of the interview, posted at their Ask Anne blog.
Q. What inspired you to write The Power of Parent-Child Play?
A. Laurie: When I began writing 23 years ago, I had an insatiably curious son. He constantly demanded that I spell for him or teach him how things worked. It was thrilling and exhausting. Consequently, I began inventing spontaneous games to keep him interested and found it fun for me too. At the same time I was working as a licensed certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), modifying activities through play to help children with developmental delays or learning disabilities. Every child had something to teach me back.
As I played similar games with my other two children I learned even more. My three kids grew up in a learning laboratory because so much of what we learned together became fodder for articles I wrote for parenting magazines, including Parenting and Christian Parenting Today.
Meanwhile, other mothers would ask how play came naturally to me, and why I enjoyed it so much. I realized how much my background in occupational therapy helped me understand small components in play and learning, which adds excitement to parenting. I believe parents can learn those same principles to connect with, teach, and enjoy their own kids.
However, many interviews revealed to me that play does not come naturally to all parents, and those who are comfortable with it experience other barriers. I realized that out of all the parenting books I’d read up to that point, I hadn’t seen a single one addressing barriers to play for parents. None of them focused on how to enjoy play despite parent-child personality conflicts, sibling squabbling, family stress, lack of time and energy, etc. Few also focused on how beneficial play can be for parents.
Q. Do you have a favorite activity you write about in your book?
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Photo by Elisa Sargent, 2010
5-Minute-Fun: Shadow Stomp
When you’re out on a walk together or your preschooler is riding his trike as you walk, he may lose steam before you can get back home.
Boost his motivation and energy by saying, “Don’t you dare run over my shadow!”
When he does (of course!) , scream in agony or moan.
An alternative is to play shadow tag. Try stomping on each others shadows before you can run to a place where your shadows are hidden in the shade of a tree or car.
It’s amazing how a kid who cries “Carry me, Mom, I’m too tired!” and slumps to the ground to demonstrate his exhaustion is suddenly energized by a game like this, then can easily make it all the way back home!
Enjoy the Spring weather . . . now that it’s finally here!
By the way: take a close look at the photo above. My 13-yr-old daughter photographed her friends spelling out the word LOVE with heart-shaped shadows below. How cool is that?
She loved to run over my shadow when she was little!
Note: This 5-Minute-Fun was excerpted from: Time to Get Out? Or Stay In!, Chapter 13, p. 193 in The Power of Parent-Child Play by Laurie Winslow Sargent (2003, Tyndale House Publishers).