The Meaning of Parenthood

Question

I am struggling with parenthood and what it really means. I have a daughter who is 32 months old and it seems like we are away from her too often. Four days out of the week she goes to preschool/daycare for 9 hours while we are at work. We bring her home, cook dinner and bathe her and that leaves 30-45 minutes for play before it’s time for bed. On occasional Saturday’s my wife and I want to have a date night to focus on us, our marriage. On Sunday’s my daughter gets dropped off at Sunday school while we are in church or serving. And of course there are other events that happen on occasion where we need someone to watch her for an afternoon. I don’t believe we are doing anything out of the norm, but I find myself feeling guilty because it feels like we are always “leaving her.” She stayed home mainly with me the first eighteen months and recently transitioned to a Christian preschool, but is not participating very much. She cries when I drop her off, saying that she wants to stay home with me, which breaks my heart and only adds to the guilt.

In the book, Making the Terrible Two’s Terrific, I recall reading that when a child reaches age 3, they will and should entertain themselves for the better part of the day, leaving the parent to do what they need to do. Doesn’t parenting mean more than just providing a safe environment for a child to grow up in? Doesn’t it mean more than dropping off your child, and then picking her up and getting her fed and safely to bed and then spending some time with her on the weekends? Why do I feel guilty for not spending every free moment with my daughter and for wanting to spend time with my wife?

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