I keep reading, in various parenting blogs and books, that parents tell their whining kids that only boring people get bored. I’ve been considering the validity of this statement, as it relates to children, but also on a personal level. First, let’s look at how it applies to our kids…then let’s take at ourselves.
I think it’s incredibly important for children to be bored from time to time. In fact, a recent article in Psychology Today encouraged parents to “schedule boredom”:
“…The antidote to boredom is not an environment that programs children or removes responsibility from children to solve the problem of under-stimulation themselves.
Simply amusing our children endlessly may actually do them more harm than good. They will never learn how to act autonomously, accept responsibility for their own well-being, seek out challenges that interest them, or learn how to self-motivate.”
This article from the British Guardian had an insightful, albeit damning, question:
“Do parents feel that a failure to stimulate or entertain is tantamount to child abuse? They hover, controllingly, apportioning their children’s time into meaningful, accountable pursuits, counterproductively leading to resentment. The child resents the enforced activity, while the parent resents both the requirement to provide it and the child’s ingratitude at its provision. Too often have I heard a parent say ‘I hate the summer holidays.’ How depressing, to find the company of your children such a chore.”
I am totally guilty of turning on the television when I want to get something done, and my husband has pointed out multiple times that I am hindering their curiosity and exploration (I know–easy for the one that’s at work all day to say, right?). But I’ve been making a concerted effort to turn it off more frequently, and when they whine for me to turn it on, I tell them firmly that it’s play time, not TV time. Then I try to leave them to their own devices. They usually find something to do pretty quickly. Sometimes they continue to whine and attach themselves to my legs like starfish on a coral reef.
So here’s the question, though–what do you do when you’re the parent and you’re bored? It seems that the same rules don’t really apply. Oftentimes the tasks that you must accomplish during the course of the day are mundane and unstimulating; see my post of Escaping the Tedium of Day-to-Day Mommyhood. Even following my own advice, however, there are still days when I am bored. I even started a new chore calendar last week because I felt like I needed to be more productive. I disagree that my boredom springs from “being boring,” however, because I can’t always choose my activities. I can choose my attitude toward them, but let’s face it–washing dishes, chopping vegetables, and accomplishing a zillion other daily minutiae are not always going to inspire an attitude of excitement. Since we don’t have a choice in the matter, we are bored. Not boring. Take solace in the knowledge that you aren’t alone if you feel similarly.
And read My Favorite Essay on Motherhood and remember, it’s not your turn.