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Believe it or not, the parenting technique du jour is all about slam-dunking your kid. Very rarely does a day go by I don't want to do just that to my boys, so I take this as good news. The kind of behavior advocated in Anthony T. DeBenedet and Lawrence J. Cohen's new book The Art of Roughhousing is of the pillow-punching, noogie-rubbing, fish hook-giving variety. You know, general horseplay. Apparently, it's really good for them.
My two boys are big time mama's boys -- bug chasing, truck loving, dirt digging, mama boys. (I'm partly to blame with my kissing and cuddling and general slobbering.) But when it comes to roughhousing, Daddy, a former college wrestler, has the ability to make the kids scream and laugh in ways I can't. By flinging and flipping and tossing they establish a physical trust and intimacy together, and those sound like good things to me.
My family's love of wrestle mania is not shared by all. A mom I know once remarked to a friend of mine: "Rebecca lets her kids get away with everything," and referenced the Olympic couch diving I permitted in our family room. At first I was stung, and questioned whether I should allow such reckless behavior. Was I a slacker mom? According to an interview authors DeBenedet and Cohen gave the New York Times, jacking around is important for fostering positive relationships, promotes intelligence and physical fitness, provides endorphin and oxytocin rushes (both feel-good body chemicals) and teaches ethical and moral lessons. The book even offers instruction for how to roll around with your kids if it doesn't come naturally to you.
I felt better after reading that. While my husband does make the occasional lapse in judgment about where he tosses the kids, he always manages to keep them from cracking their skulls on the sidewalk. And I know what my boys are capable of and step in if they look like they are doing something beyond their abilities (like pushing each other down the stairs in the laundry basket). Cream puff Moms could do well to let their kids dive off the couch -- clearly, it's an art worth perfecting.