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When Parents Don't Play

Some parents struggle in visits because they are not used to playing with their children. Parents may not see playing as their role; they may expect to sit back and watch during visits, as parents do at playgrounds.

As one mother wrote in Rise: “I didn’t realize that my idea of a mother’s role was pretty limited. I didn’t show a connection to my kids beyond changing diapers, washing, dressing and feedings. The professionals who came into our family could tell that I was a devoted mother who loved her kids, but they also saw that something was missing.” 

Depression or trauma can also be a factor. Parents with histories of domestic violence or sexual assault may avoid playing or even snuggling with their kids because the noise, sudden movement and intimacy can be frightening.

You can use the TIPS to make it clear to parents that visits are a time for active nurturing. Showing concern for what might be challenging for parents about playing with their kids can help parents show concern for what might be challenging for their kids about visiting.   
TIPS for Helping Parents with Play

The story Closer Than Ever can be a resource for talking about parents’ roles and children's needs. In a therapeutic parenting class, the writer learns “that children need attention order to thrive." She writes: "In visits, I started to play with our kids, read to them, color and really enjoy our time. I wanted to hear about everything they had been doing. These were things I hadn’t done with my children before.”

You can read Sandra’s story and ask:
* What kinds of activities would you feel comfortable trying with your kids?
* Do you have any concerns about playing more with your kids during visits?
* Do you want me to help you and your kids get started?

Reviewing the Visiting Checklist on the back of “Do’s and Don’ts of Visiting” may offer a neutral way to open up this challenging conversation. 
QUICK TIP: Ages + Stages

Many parents are highly motivated to provide educational activities for their children. For parents with young children, reviewing an “Ages + Stages” handout can offer ideas of activities they can do to support their children’s development. 
Copyright © 2017 Rise, All rights reserved.

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