Summary of “Parent-child play: It’s constant and exhausting, but is there a better way?”

How did so many middle-class American parents get stuck with this guilt? Do our kids really need us to play pretend with them all the time? And if they don’t, how do we convince them of that fact? Because there’s somebody in this house who wants to play “Goggy”, and somebody else who’d rather not.
“As the mother is urged to make play an aspect of every activity, play assumes a new obligatory quality.” The mother must not only carry out every caretaking activity required of a good mom; she must also bounce and sing as she does it.
If a mother was working most of the week; if the parents were getting divorced; if kids now had to go to schools that were eating up their time and making them miserable; if parents didn’t “Give” their child a sibling or two; if parents couldn’t provide a house in a neighborhood where it was safe to play outside-if any of these newly common conditions prevailed, middle-class parents felt more and more like they “Owed” their children good fun, under whatever terms the children required.
“There are lots of cultures where considered absolutely inappropriate-a parent would never get down on their knees and play with the children. Playing is something children do, not something adults do,” developmental psychologist Angeline Lillard said in an interview.
Assessing whether he would, after a few decades of research, change the message of How to Play With Your Children, he pushed back against those advising playfulness for the sake of “Making your kids smarter”: “We favor occasional parent play mainly for the way it increases the competence and vividness of family or peer play relationships rather than for any fairly marginal academic outcomes.” And a parent playing with their kids could get it wrong: “The occasional participation with and modeling of play for children seems to have a powerful influence on their own playfulness, unless it is too intrusive, overpowering, or one-sided.”
Alford told me she thought parents who played “Pretend” with their children too much undermined the development of this fluidity because “Adults don’t think that way anymore.” Indeed, the open-endedness and indeterminacy of children’s play was one of the things the mothers I asked cited as “Annoying” when contemplating playing with their children: “As a kid I used to like playing pretend but now I’d rather clean the toilet,” one wrote.
The Sutton-Smiths began their book with the caveat: “You do not have to continue playing night and day. In fact, the ruling principle in this book is, ‘If it isn’t fun, forget it.'” Say no to play, they wrote, “If you feel like you are intruding, or you feel it is a duty, or you are too grumpy, preoccupied, or just plain exhausted to enjoy the fun you are supposed to be having together.” Every contemporary source I consulted, from the people who wanted parents’ hands off children’s play to the adult-child play cheerleaders, emphasized the idea that you should not play if you resent it.
Schedule time for child-driven solo play at home, and try to seize on and expand those moments when your child is happily playing alone.

The orginal article.