Please imagine a woman who is very busy in raising her children. Someone asks her to a party, but she wants to apologize and tell them about the reason why she cannot attend the party. Which one of the following verbs sounds more natural in my self-made sentence below:

I'm really sorry. I'd love to be there. But I’ve really occupied myself with raising my kids.

I'm really sorry. I'd love to be there. But I’ve really involved myself in raising my kids.

I'm really sorry. I'd love to be there. But I’ve really engaged myself in raising my kids.

For me, based on dictionary definition, only the first one works, but in some translation pages, I came across the other two verbs too. I need your confirmation on it.

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  • 3
    None of them really sounds idiomatic, but I think the problem is the phrase "raising my kids", not the particular verb. When I hear raising your children, I think of the years-long process of raising them from infants to adulthood - not something that you happen to be doing right at any one particular moment. I think the phrase you're looking for is more like taking care of my kids or looking after my kids. – stangdon Jan 24 '17 at 15:12
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    It's a bit of a lame excuse (no matter how committed you are to raising your kids, it's not likely that would prevent you ever going to any parties for a decade or two). Just say I'll be busy with the kids (and I don't think your party would be good enough to justify me getting a baby-sitter, but maybe it's best if you don't actually say that! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 24 '17 at 15:13
  • @stangdon but the point makes me fall into doubt is something more subtle. Looking at the usages of my marked verbs, shows the semantic nuance between them. I think when you are occupied with something, you are putting your time there, while when you are engaged in something or involved in it, you are actually spending your energy or something. Am I right? ;) – A-friend Jan 24 '17 at 18:46
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    @A-friend If that's the case, then you actually want to ask a different question than the one you have. Occupied may be more passive than engaged or involved but it would also depend on the surrounding context. If "my mind is occupied with thoughts", it is certainly involved and engaged in those thoughts. – Peter Jan 25 '17 at 1:16
  • @Peter I thought the moderators or other people who are going to answer a question, will have a look on the thread's tags where I chose "word differences" as one which shows it was one of my intentions to know about it. :) – A-friend Jan 25 '17 at 6:37

I don't think any of these would be advanced in these circumstances as an excuse. "Raising my kids" is a very long-term occupation/involvement/engagement; it takes a lot of time, but it does not absorb every waking hour, so there is no necessary conflict between this very laudable commitment and any particular social engagement.

However, "raising my kids" might very well be advanced as a reason for not undertaking a similarly long-term commitment—for instance, working with a charity or political organization. In that case I suspect few of us would cast an excuse in terms of our personal occupation or involvement or engagement; that's pretty much taken for granted when we speak of such activities, and foregrounding it sounds rather pompous and self-important. We'd be more likely to say something like

I'm really sorry. I'd love to work with you. But these days raising my kids just takes too much of my time.

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