Dad POV: Can you leave a 7-year-old alone at a museum?

I feel like men often get ignored in conversations about raising babies and toddlers. Since we had a lot of guys weigh in today on the live chat about French parenting, I wanted to highlight their thoughts about raising kids.

Mark:

Kids need to be a part of your life, but not your life.

Part of your identity, but not your identity.

My wife and I are a team and we pass the ball between each other and share the same goal. Making sure that our two sons are happy, but also making sure that we don’t lose sight of our personal interests.

Our advice to new parents is to recognize that you have this added responsibility, but don’t forget who you are. We each get out one night a week alone, and once a month or so we have a date night. But y’know, the best times are when all four of us are together.

Mike:

The key to parenting is balance, restraint, openness, and engage you kids. Don’t do your kids homework, make excuses for them, and live vicariously through them.

Let them experience the world.

Let them fail.

I have four very cool teenagers.

Randall:

Overprotective parenting, I think, changed in the wake of the child-abduction panic in the 1970s. Remember the milk-carton photos of kidnapped kids?

But all but a fraction of kidnappings are not committed by strangers, but family members or friends.

Now, in many circles it’s considered child abuse to let kids run off to play alone in their neighborhoods. When I was in 2nd grade, my Dad took me on a week’s trip to Chicago. Each morning he dropped me off on the steps of the Museum of Science and Industry, and returned in the late afternoon to pick me up. I spent hours and hours just wandering through the exhibits. Heaven!

Jens, father of 2 toddlers:

I have lived in Europe, and there is more time off, more day care, maternity leave, paternity leave, e.g. more support policies… as an American parent, I have to do TWICE the work balancing kids and work that my European counterparts do… culture matters, but so do policies.

When will Americans stop simply paying lip service to family values and actually provide more family supportive policies? I’d love to give my kids a 5 course meal at noon for two hours, finishing with a fruit plate and cheese, but this is never going to happen even if I wanted to do it…

American parents are so focused on more, faster, better, instant gratification that we don’t teach children to be patient and work things out themselves. But isn’t this in part due to the prevailing culture of parenting in America where parents are chided if they aren’t constantly engaged with their kids?

With “quality time” and always “being there” for their kids?

Chris says :

My wife is French and we have two sons, 7 & 9. When I said that our life would be about our kids until they left the house, she completely disagreed. I’m happy that I listened to her. We do balance our life between kids and couple.

John in Deephaven:

A documentary movie that helped us, although after six months of the new parent worries, was “Babies“.

Don gets a little sarcastic:

Oh, we are such “francophiles” and even have our 5 year old loving to wear his beret. I am, however a little perplexed as to what age should I introduce smoking to him. He rolls cigarettes for me now,… I’m so proud. If only I could totally trust him with matches, then we could light up together!

Stephanie Curtis, social media host