Saturday, September 15, 2012

Idle parenting

I just read this and am now converted.

When I became a parent I became so bloody uptight and anxious and earnest and so, so boring. I know that it wasn't compulsory but nice and earnest and martyr-y just seemed to go with the territory, with the role of 'the good mother'.

It hasn't done me or the kids many favours, I'm generally irritable and my kids are not confident and secure and living their own lives, but spend half the time stuck to me like 'shit on a blanket' as my potty-mouthed aunt would say.

It's time to chill the fuck out and have a good time. Leave the kids alone to become themselves. Who's with me?


Louise Michie said...

I live in a place where some children have almost unlimited freedom. I see what happens as they grow older. I see what kind of adults they become. I see the end product. DO NOT FOLLOW THIS PATH. When you shelter your children and protect them from harm you are expressing loving and nurturing feelings. This is hugely important in the development of caring and responsible adults. If you could visit a prison you would meet many people who would have led quite different lives if their parents had been more attentive and loving.

Mel K said...

I think it's important to have some balance, yes? There's a difference between letting your children live their own lives, and leaving them unattended and unloved.
I became EXACTLY the same when I first had kids, George. I still struggle to get past what the expected mother role is, and who I am and what sort of parent I can choose to be.

Mrs Smith said...

I don't think the intention is to neglect children, but to give them enough space to be themselves and to grow confident that they can handle life, with a little help from their parents. I understand what you are saying though. Abandonment and neglect are never a good thing.

Emma said...

I love this line from the article "Time is more important than money,
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness". Letting kids have free time to get bored enough to use their imagination is great. We've cut back the after school commitments and organised sports so our kids can do more roaming the garden, climbing trees, making stuff, cooking and long walks around the neighbourhood. I agree that this isn't about neglect it's about pulling the kids back from being rampant little consumers and letting them have some responsibility for themselves. Kids love stepping up and doing stuff for themselves and for their parents given half a chance.

On another topic - I'm bringing my teenager to Hobart in the September school holidays for a few days - a bit of mum & daughter time, we're staying in Salamanca and going to Mona for one day - have you got any suggestions for places to eat and things to do that a 15 year old will enjoy (she's a nerdy/arty kid). We've got three days to fill and will be walking/bussing it.

Mrs Smith said...

Hi Emma, how lovely for you and your girl to be heading to Hobart. A great mum-daughter outing is dinner at The Rain Check Lounge and then a movie at the State Cinema. Both are on Elizabeth St. Sweet Envy in North Hobart is an amazing cake shop. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is being renovated and should be worth a look. There are loads of great cafes, shops and galleries in Salamanca. If she is into classical music, it would be worth checking if the TSO is having a concert at the concert hall. There is a cruise to Peppermint Bay which is gorgeous and it's definitely worth catching the ferry to Mona. Mona is such an excellent place to hang out. If I think of anything else I'll let you know. G

Emma said...

Thank you Mr Smith - that's a great list to get us started!

Fer said...

This is just what I needed to read! We never did so much extracurricular stuff when we were young, and I was amazed when I started to notice how much parents were signing their children up for. I look at my two and are glad that they are usually entertaining themselves, it just seems natural to me.

If they want to do all that stuff as they get older then I'd like to think that we'll work out a healthy balance. :-)

chrisartist said...

When raising three boys, I found what made me happy was having time to do things I enjoyed.
My husband and I both followed our passions giving each other space. I went to art and pottery groups and he did archery and running.
Somehow all the mayhem of day to day life with a family seems bearable when' you do things for yourself.
Time management is tricky with kids!!
I do think children also need time out. For themselves and their friends. Just need to be careful it's safe and in good company.
Everyone needs to chill out!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad there is more being written about this. I decided to step off the urban mother treadmill when I read an article titled "How to come to terms with having a child of average intelligence." My god. I am average intelligence and I tell ya what, I'm all fine. I love watching my daughter play beside me or help me with gardening, cooking, sewing. I love that she can't stand more than five minutes of TV. I love that the few extra curricular activities she wants to have been carefully considered by her because she knows she doesn't have to do all of it. I think there needs to be more of this idle parenting stuff. Of course, with heaps of love too of course! Eliza

Isis said...

you have to read the Tom Hodgkinson books. i haven't read the parenting one, but have read the others and they are amazing. do it.

just a note re the first comment. my parents were idle parents. they were the idlest of idle. we did WHATEVER we wanted. and i turned out alright. i think ;) my two younger brothers were little shits for a bit, but they got it together. the only sad thing is, children of idle parents form their own selves early on and are likely to question their world forever on more than others. and this makes life hard for them.

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