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Should I stop my child playing?

March 3rd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

Dear Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin,

I am a Christian woman who is enjoying the journey of learning our Jewish roots. I recently ordered your library collection and I am quite enraptured in the wisdom that is shared. You are absolutely right when you say, ‘You need a rabbi!’ 

I have a question regarding children and playing pretend. Growing up I often played pretend, most often pretending to be different people in different careers. Occasionally though, I would pretend to be a cat or dog. I never thought anything of it as I have so often heard and seen children pretend to be animals at some point in time. After listening to your teachings though on how God made us in His image, I question whether pretending to be an animal in playtime would be forbidden in a Jewish home. When we pretend to be a grocer, doctor, mother or superhero, we are serving humanity and setting our mind on things that God would want us to do or character traits God wants us to have; whereas if we pretend to be an animal, we are not preparing ourselves in any way for growth. 

Am I taking this too far? I am not a wife or mother yet but should I ever become one, I hope to raise my children in a way that pleases the Lord.

Thank you!

∼ Jessica K.

Answer:

Dear Jessica,

We are delighted that you are finding value in our library pack. We’re also delighted that you are thinking ahead. Too many people wait until children arrive to think about what type of parents they want to be and the values they want to impart. They then play catch-up, being surprised by each stage of child development.

Having said that, we do think that you are taking an idea too far. One of the gifts parents give children is letting them be children with all the imaginative play and silliness that includes. Allowing that lets them grow healthily in the future.

Think of this example. We would like our children to appreciate classical music and good literature. A major step towards that goal is singing simple songs like The Wheels on the Bus and reading repetitive books like But No Elephants over and over. If we tried singing Verdi’s opera Nabucco or reading Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities to our three year olds, we would probably turn them off music and reading. Everything in its time.

Imaginative and pretend play is important work for children. In fact, we are opposed to so many of today’s electronic toys that take that away from the child. When the toy cow says, ‘moo’ that takes away the opportunity for the toddler to say, ‘neigh’ and burst into laughter at his own joke.

 

We’re sure you’ll make an awesome mother,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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