Rethinking Parenthood: Loneliness – The Good Men Project
After putting the kids to bed for some quiet time, my husband and I headed for a leisurely walk around the block. As they met friends along the way, they wondered where our children were. It was approaching 9:00 p.m. They asked how our children could be in bed safely and we asked how they were doing with theirs playing loudly as the moon rose.
Everyone is welcome in their different parenting styles. For us, time and space in the peace and quiet of the evening air, separated from the children, with each of us taking a moment for ourselves is essential.
In a culture where immediate gratification seems an increasing demand at all ages of society, the need for solitude becomes more apparent.
. . .
My curiosity piqued on this subject. By connecting with other parents with different opinions, I found myself diving in to find out more.
New York Public School Educator and Counselor Diane Senechal argues that children’s ability to think and reflect independently on a given topic is essential. I certainly agree.
Children need the opportunity to form their own opinions. Being able to sit in their thoughts will contribute to richer and more meaningful discussions with others. If ideas never arise independently, how is it possible otherwise? Of course, their environment influences their thinking; however, resting (for at least a while) in these thoughts is essential for developing critical thinking skills.
Loneliness became synonymous with loneliness at some point; However, I think the pandemic offers society a new perspective.
Solitude is a negative state, often characterized by isolation which can include emptiness. This state may sound like I’m talking about the pandemic, but listen to me.
Solitude is to find comfort and contentment in being with oneself. Watching our children play alone, they are often happy and oblivious to the concept of loneliness. I believe this is something we can learn from them and something we all need to embrace.
. . .
Embrace the loneliness.
Loneliness is a powerful tool for all of us. It allows for thought and can inspire the imagination. Self-reflection and imagination are inspiring attributes. Such attributes are the reason why I think it is useful to choose loneliness, especially as parents. We can guide and inspire the next generation to do the same.
Parenthood is the ultimate marathon. Solitude allows everyone in the unit, parents and children, to breathe. We cannot survive without oxygen, so why are we trying to force ourselves into a state of constant activity?
What are your plans for this weekend? Relax and at home – and recharge.
Won’t the kids be bored? My eleven year old takes out his markers and starts drawing, carefully building many Pokemon characters, which he asks if we can laminate. He builds his own figurines and his imagination soars as he gives a voice to each of his drawings. Beyond this imaginative state, the feeling of pride is rejected from all senses of one’s being, this is where true beauty resides.
By learning to be comfortable with solitude, we gain a sense of presence and a wealth of opportunity. There is a particular wealth of ideas for entertaining and comforting us – attributes that nourish the soul and make us less likely to be alone.
For our children, being alone and creating this space as an echo chamber of positive thoughts seems to be lacking in a society where the number of likes and followers and a constant presence of others seem to fuel gratification. They are external sources, while loneliness offers itself the luxury of being satisfied with ourselves.
As a parent, we grow alongside our children. Do you have a personal journey with loneliness? What if loneliness was the fault for ourselves and our children, and we were fueled by an inner source of satisfaction?
I believe it is time to teach our children how choosing to be alone is supportive, and while coming out of the pandemic it could be a lot more difficult – we had the opportunity to be less busy, and I think it’s a gift to keep in mind.
How do you feel about consciously choosing “alone time” for your children? Are you looking for solitude for yourself? I am interested in hearing your perspective and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.
This post was previously posted on A parent is born.
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