"Don't ask a child a question if you don't mean for the child to have a choice in the matter. "

Liberating the Playmate Dad

Question

I read the column by Dinah Bucholz, Stop Paying Attention to Your Kids. I'm struggling because this is my downfall. My daughter wants me to play with her constantly. I have an overwhelming sense of guilt when I say no, and so I usually say yes, even at the expense of my own well-being. But I reason that this is the sacrifice/responsibility of a father, at least to some degree. Our 6-year-old daughter is an only child and so I reason that she has no siblings to play with so I step in because she desperately wants someone to play with. Further, I reason that these years are precious and will be gone in a flash so I spend as much time with her as I can.
Throughout her childhood, we've been pretty good at implementing John's advice, but I confess that this is an area where I'm not sure I want to change because it will be hard and I'm worried about the consequences. If I am to make a change, how do I help my daughter understand it? In other words, she's used to me saying yes (more often than no), and all of a sudden I'll be saying no.

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