As usual, let’s get one thing out of the way: No, I don’t have kids, but I was raised by some mighty good and exemplary parents who never “took a break” from me because I wasn’t the kind of kid one needed a break from.
The thing that most people forget is that one doesn’t need to fail or have the worst experiences to learn or teach. You CAN learn from someone who’s doing it right. Hence why I take my parents’ advice (and Dr. Laura’s) over anyone else’s.
I know what I’m talking about.
Along those lines, I was a good kid growing up: Great grades, teachers’ favorite, no vices, no weird phases, no boy craziness (or even boyfriends but plenty of crushes on my end!), no parties, kinda nerdy but still aware of pop culture, you get the picture. I was a good girl and proud daughter of overprotective parents.
Needless to say, mine are two parents who did an excellent job and who SO many out there would learn a lot from.
They didn’t need to have done a poor job in order to have learned from their mistakes because we believe in preventing mistakes. (And in my humble opinion, they didn’t make any.)
Moreover, I don’t need to have been a bad kid in order to share why my experience is still one worth noting to justify why taking a break from kids for the sake of taking a BREAK is wrong.
This post is in response to another by a blog friend/acquaintance (let’s call her Kim), whose title “Why Taking Breaks from Your Kids Is Good for Everyone” gave me the idea for this one.
I can’t help but feel insulted when I see posts about parents who take breaks from their kids because they couldn’t deal with the madness anymore. As if a kid (who one chose to have) was something one can just take a vacation FROM!
I shared Kim’s post with my mom and she couldn’t help but feel revolted at what parenting (Millennial parenting?) has come to in this century.
Seriously, the concept of a break from your child is so messed up! In fact, I’ll use Kim’s reasons (which are in support of the idea) to explain why it’s NOT something that should be followed.
Instead of commenting on her blog about the absurdity of what I had just read, I had to respond the best way I know how: hence this post.
Underlined you’ll see her reasons, and immediately afterwards you’ll see my rebuttal + a summary at the end of each section.
Why it’s not good for the kids
Sam argues that taking a break from your kids is good for them because:
Her: It teaches them to listen to other adults other than you and your spouse.
Me: Great, it’s now OK for kids to learn to listen to the rando who approaches them down the street.
It teaches them independence and the importance of adapting.
They’re KIDS. Unless they’re orphans or in foster care, they don’t need independence. They should know they have your safety net to rely on at all times.
It makes them excited to see you when you come home.
They’re KIDS–not animals. My canine and feline brothers get excited when I come home. No reason to teach a human that it’s good to miss another human when the latter is supposed to be there unconditionally.
It helps them self-soothe.
Again, they’re KIDS. It’s OK for them to need and want you (up to a point, of course).
In sum: Why it’s NOT good for kids to be taken a break from:
Your kid will learn you valued leaving them over helping them through something and unconditionally loving and supporting them. They’ll see you left when things got rough.
Why it’s not good for the parents
It gives you a break. Emotionally and mentally.
Well, OK, I get it: You need a break from a little human who absolutely depends on you. Just don’t depend on that break or come to need to pass that kid on to someone besides your spouse on a regular basis. Again, this is someone who loves YOU and who you should love unconditionally. That doesn’t deserve a break.
It gives you a chance to reevaluate your parenting techniques.
Taking a break from your child lets you reevaluate your parenting techniques? Wouldn’t you need the kid present to see if you’re right? Parenting is a two-way street: Maybe I never understood how demanding parents can get because I was good growing up and my parents always chose to calmly talk with me rather than trying other “parenting” gimmicks. But whatever suits your boat.
It makes you realize how much you love them and miss them.
If LEAVING your kids makes you realize how much you love and miss them…then maybe you weren’t suited to become a parent when you did. Kids are not to be taken for granted.
Having said all that, is taking such a break still worth it? Really?
Your kid might resent you once they learn you took breaks from them, that you NEEDED those breaks. They may understand why when they’re in their 20s, but it may hurt your relationship if they grow aware of how much importance you placed on leaving them instead of sticking around through their tantrums or other bouts.
My parents have always known one thing that a lot of American parents simply forget or don’t realize: Kids don’t belong to you. God/your favorite deity entrusted a man and a woman to take care of them until they’ve passed. We’re essentially borrowed, on loan, and parents are therefore even more responsible to take better care of their children. God wants that child in the same (if not better) condition that the child who was given to them was in.
Like the popular ads state, “moms/dads don’t take sick days.” Kids aren’t jobs you take time off from. You chose them for a reason and you shouldn’t let anything come between you and that privilege. (If you disagree that it IS a privilege you shouldn’t take for granted, talk to parents of unborn children in heaven.)
Maybe you don’t feel like doing the dishes tonight. But your kids aren’t dishes you can ignore if they get too messy: A mentality of being able to abandon a responsibility will foment a sense of never-ending childhood that should’ve ENDED the minute that kid was conceived.
Parents leaving when it gets too crazy teaches kids how to get rid of their parents for a day or two (or more). You’re kidding yourself if you’re thinking that kids aren’t that smart to figure it out.
Lastly, no, this isn’t a marriage blog or a parenting blog. I merely strive to insert another angle into the sometimes messed-up norm. Another angle that may show someone going through that life stage that there are other–better–ways of doing things.
Related (not mine): 5 Spiritual lessons I’ve learned as the dad of a large family (Applies to parents of families of any size!)
If you know other reasons why taking a break from your kids isn’t good for everyone, please share them below!