Parents who are regularly bored by their kids can rest assured that they’re not alone, research reveals. Not only that, but those who accept this reality are actually destined to be happier than parents who question why their children bore them to tears.
“If you think parenting is supposed to be endlessly fulfilling and meaningful, you’re probably going to be far less gratified by it that if you accepted that sometimes it’s just boring,” Joshua Coleman, psychologist and author of the book The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework told Fatherly.
One third of mothers don’t find parenting meaningful or enjoyable at all, according to at least one study (and those are just the ones who admitted to it). And while it’s taboo for a mom to admit that motherhood doesn’t always feel special, shifting gender norms mean the guilt and burden of being bored by your children is increasingly falling on fathers, too. If parents can learn to let themselves off the hook and accept parenthood as uninteresting, Coleman says, perhaps they can start reaping the benefits of boredom. Studies suggest that boredom, in appropriate doses, can help people set and attain goals, as well as be more altruistic and creative.
When parenting boredom strikes, Coleman says, it’s usually when the child is an infant and not yet old enough to play with. Mothers can help engage fathers in these earlier stages by not acting like the gatekeepers when it comes to diaper changes, allowing dads opportunities to connect with kids before they’re old enough to play catch. This is crucial, because kids with engaged fathers tend to have higher IQs and lower risk of obesity and mental health problems throughout their lives. Your kids need you—whether or not they’re particularly fascinating specimens.
“Good parenting doesn’t require being endlessly satisfied by it,” Coleman says. “You can still be a great parent and be bored. That’s just a reality of all relationships.”