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Mom's viral clip argues parents are spending too much time on kids' activities

“We’ve changed the expectation of parenting."

parenting, overwhelmed, burnout
Keira Burton/ Pexels

Parents today spend far more time with their kids than previous generations.

Are we placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves as parents to entertain our children every second of every day? This is what a mom on Instagram purports in a clip that’s resonated deeply with fellow parents who feel stretched to the breaking point.

“I just spent a weekend with my kids who are 6, 4 and 2-years-old,” begins working mom Jen B who goes by the 8thdayformomonly. “And the amount of time I spent setting up activities, cleaning up activities, participating in activities is so much.”

In a video viewed over 35 thousand times, she says she doesn’t recall her parents ever putting in this much time. “I feel like the standard that we are holding ourselves to as parents to entertain our children is so much higher than it was when we were kids.


“It’s just a really, really high bar when you have two working parents and you’re also maintaining a house,” she continued.

The content creator says the expectation has shifted over the years.

“We’ve changed the expectation of parenting to think we’re always supposed to be involved and we’re supposed to enjoy every minute and get on the ground and play with them… and so I don’t know if you needed to hear this today," Jen B said. "I needed to hear this today. We can lower the bar, we don’t have to be constantly entertaining our kids, we can give them space to entertain themselves.”

The comments on the video contain astute commentary.

One commenter wonders if part of the reason we’re running ourselves ragged is to make up for what we felt was missing from our own childhoods.

“Part of me wonders if the reason we do this to ourselves is because we don’t have any memory of our parents playing with us like this,” writes Littleseel.

Another says she once heard that the amount of time put in by working parents today is more than stay-at-home-parents of the '50s.

“I heard somewhere that working parents today spend 50% more time entertaining kids than SAHMs did in the '50s,” writes laura.b823.

“I believe that stat,” 8thdayformomonly responded.

While we didn’t find a study citing working parents today versus stay-at-home moms in the 50s, this study from 2016 shows the amount of time parents spend with their children doubled for moms and quadrupled for dads between 1965 and 2012.

And then, of course, there’s the question of whether this level of attention is in the children's best interests. After all, they need to learn to keep themselves occupied and to work through boredom. Commenter little_beast_miguel writes, “It’s also important to let them entertain themselves to learn not to rely on their parents for literally everything."

There is a school of thought that a more laissez-faire, hands-off approach dubbed “benign neglect” helps foster a greater sense of independence and self-reliance.

“The benign neglect movement seems to be a backswing from helicopter parenting, which encouraged coddling millennials and Gen Zs throughout childhood,” NYU Langone Health child psychologist Yamalis Diaz told The New York Post.

Actress Jennifer Garner is a big proponent of this style of parenting.

jennifer garner, ben affleck, parenting

Jennifer Garner believes in "benign neglect"

Karon Liu/Wikimeda Commons

In a Today Show appearance, the actress, who raises three children with her ex, Ben Affleck, said, “I want to be around. But I also think it’s OK if they suffer from a little bit of benign neglect. Their lives are their own. I’m not trying to live their life, and I don’t mind that they see that I love mine.”

As with anything, though, balance is key.

Benign neglect is not the same as actual neglect.

Says Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a neuropsychologist in New York and the Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services to Parents. “It's a balance between freedom and safety, ensuring that children have the space to grow while maintaining a secure environment.”









Jennifer Garner believes in "benign neglect"

Karon Liu/Wikimeda Commons

In a Today Show appearance, the actress, who raises three children with her ex, Ben Affleck, said, “I want to be around. But I also think it’s OK if they suffer from a little bit of benign neglect. Their lives are their own. I’m not trying to live their life, and I don’t mind that they see that I love mine.”

As with anything, though, balance is key.

Benign neglect is not the same as actual neglect.

Says Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a neuropsychologist in New York and the Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services to Parents. “It's a balance between freedom and safety, ensuring that children have the space to grow while maintaining a secure environment.”

Image from Pixabay.

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