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Spending Time With Your Kids Is Bad For Them?

Photograph by Twenty20

Recently, the New York Post published an article bashing Alex Baldwin, basically saying his army of nannies made him, and other wealthy moms and dads, neglectful parents. Then the author went after parents who don't have excess income, but nonetheless spend time alone with each of their children, as overly indulgent.

Basically, you're doing parenting wrong—no matter how you're raising your kids.

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Naomi Shaefer Riley wrote in the piece that she had recently taken her son to a museum without his sibling and found it blissful. No matter. She still basically said that one-on-one time with your kids was a disservice to the family unit.

I mean, I get her point to some degree. We (American families in the middle and upper classes) tend to juggle multiple activities and school schedules, which can make it hard to have family time together. Then again, as a parent who stresses fewer activities and more family time (as I do), I really enjoy spending time with my boys separately.

My days get bogged down playing referee as they squabble over toys and fight for my attention. When the opportunity came up last year to visit a hotel in the Dominican Republic with my oldest son, I jumped at the chance. His brother was too young to do a lot of activities (he was only 2), and I knew my oldest (then 5) was missing out on some serious fun. This was the first time he and I had been on an adventure alone since his brother was born. I missed that time exploring with my oldest and learning about the little man I had brought into the world.

When he started school, I suddenly had more time with my youngest. So we got to explore new spots around the city, play trains at home, and I got to know who this little boy was that I hadn't had as much time to bond with since he was the second born and his brother was always around.

I do travel a lot for my job, but I can't always afford to bring my sons on trips. So I try to give them local adventures and the time alone at home that we all desperately need.

Time together, undivided attention: that's how bonds grow.

One of the best examples I've seen of one-on-one parent time is a friend in Seattle who takes his daughter on a father/daughter breakfast date every Saturday. He's been doing this from the beginning. At first, it was just to give his wife a break one morning a week. She was juggling a full-time job and motherhood. He was a working dad who didn't get to see his daughter as much as he liked because of long hours. This tradition continued when their twin girls arrived a few years later. The girls all get some daddy time, and they will be better women because of this loving man who took time out of his life to show them that they matter.

Once school starts and sports, friends, etc. pick up, that alone time with your kid becomes much more important. You never know what you will learn once you get them on their own with a hot cocoa and a cupcake. I don't want to wake up one day, have two teenage sons and have no idea who they are or what makes them tick. Which is why I take the time to do things with them together as a family and as individuals—and I ignore rants from other parents who think it's busting up the family.

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Time together, undivided attention: that's how bonds grow. Let's not lambaste the rich because they take advantage of the help they have to give their kids what they need. Let's learn from that practice and see how we can make it work in our own lives.

Minus the army of nannies and excess income of course.

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