Parents, Kids And Time Alone
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
"What are some of the ways in which you explain to kids that mom and
dad need time alone, without feeling guilty about it?"
A journalist, writing an article on having time alone and couple
time when you have kids, asked me this question.
Parents will feel guilty only when they believe that they are doing
something wrong by spending time alone and couple time without their
This is a false belief.
The truth is that children grow up far healthier emotionally when
their parents are happy and fulfilled, even if it means that their
parents spend less time with them. When parents understand that they
are being good parents by talking loving care of themselves and
their relationship, their children will understand this.
One way of helping children understand this is to introduce the
concept of "time alone" very early in a child's life. By the time a
child is three, he or she can easily understand the concept of time
alone. If, each time you spend time alone with your child, you say,
"This is our time alone," your child will begin to understand the
concept. When you have time to yourself, you can say, "This is my
time alone with myself." When you spend time with your partner, you
can say, "This is Mom and Dad's time alone together." Parents can
tell their children, as soon as they are capable of understanding
the words, "We need time alone with you, with each other, and with
ourselves. All of us need to respect this about each other."
Our three children fully understood the concept of "time alone"
because we spent time alone with each them. They came to understand
and respect at a very young age the need for time alone.
If you put yourself aside and don't spend time with yourself and
with your partner, you are giving your children unhealthy role
modeling. You are teaching them that others are always responsible
for meeting their needs. You are teaching them to feel entitled to
your time and attention rather than helping them learn to respect
others' time. You are teaching them that it is okay to demand that
others put themselves aside for them, which may create narcissistic
Healthy parenting means finding a balance between being with your
children, being with your partner, and being with yourself. For your
children to grow up taking responsibility for their own needs and
feelings, they need to see you taking responsibility for your needs
and feelings. Constantly sacrificing yourself for your children does
not role model personal responsibility.
Children need to experience you and your spouse enjoying your time
with each other, as well as with yourselves. They need to see you
pursuing your work, hobbies, creativity and passions in order to
understand that they also need to find their passions. If you are
always there to meet your children's needs, how can they discover
who they are and what brings them joy? Always being there to meet
your children's needs for entertainment creates a dependency on
others rather than finding these resources within themselves.
Many people grow up not knowing how to be alone with themselves.
Because they were either always in front of a TV or being
entertained by their parents, they never discovered how to "play by
Of course it is very important to have enough time alone with your
children. But it is equally important to have enough time alone with
your spouse and with yourself. When you understand this, you will
stop feeling guilty about taking your time alone. When you no longer
feel guilty, your children will learn to stop guilting you and
respect your needs.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., best-selling author of eight books, including
"Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You" and co-creator of the
powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now!
Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course:
http://www.innerbonding.com or email her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.