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Is it possible to spend too much time with your kids?  I say “yes”.  And it’s not good for either of you.  Really.

These days, with so much emphasis on parenting, parents are to believe that their children are the center of the universe and that everything in their lives must revolve around the children.  Furthermore, we are led to believe that if we don’t cater to the child’s every desire (these are different than actual needs, many of us confuse this), that we are somehow failures as parents.  Well…I am here to burst that bubble.

Your responsibility as a parent is to meet your child’s needs.  That means you provide the things they actually need, such as food, clothing, shelter, and nurturing.  It does NOT mean you cater to every desire, such as needing constant attention and entertaining.  While your children ought to be a very important part of your universe, the fact is that YOU must be the center of your universe.  YOUR needs, YOUR relationships, YOUR desires must come first.  Otherwise, you are not in a place to be the best parent you can be, and you don’t do your children any favors.

Children must grow knowing that their needs will be met, and that they are loved and nurtured.  They also must learn that the world does NOT revolve around them.  They must hear the word “no”, they must get bored, they must be left without you sometimes, they must struggle, they must get upset.  And they must learn how to cope with all of this, or they will not become the successful adults we wish for them to be.  Success is not only measured materially.  Many would say that emotional maturity is a far better measure of success.

So, here are some tips for how to manage how much time you spend with your children, and how to help them grow into successful adults:

  1. Take time for yourself.  Let them see that you go for a walk without them, or soak in the bath, or read a book.  Alone.
  2. Plan regular date nights and leave the kids with Grandma or a babysitter.  It is as good for them as it is for you and your relationship.
  3. Stop feeling like you constantly must entertain your kids.  Let them figure out what to do when they’re bored.  It actually sparks creativity.
  4. Say “no”.  Don’t give them everything they want.  They won’t be able to have everything they want when they are grown, so don’t give it to them now.
  5. Don’t always jump in to rescue them when they are upset about something.  Let them figure out how to solve problems on their own.  And let them experience struggling with uncomfortable emotions.  It’s part of life.

Kids who are never left without their parents, never left bored, never left to struggle, never told “no”, and always the center of the universe will grow up to be self-centered, entitled, and emotionally inept.  Don’t let this happen to yours.