In Praise of Lazy Parenting

Bravo! Yahoo! I love this!!
This wonderful article, "In Praise of Lazy Parenting," once appeared in an issue of Wondertime Magazine. In a playful but dead-on bit of writing, the author and mother, Brett Paesel, describes the benefits to all of being an adult around your kids, so your kids can be kids. I have been saying this as loudly as I can for years now. But now, listen to someone else.

This is music-to-my-ears from Paesel:

"Your devotion to your own well-being may benefit your children more than you know. It could be making you a happier, saner mother. You could be doing your kids a favor by giving them a chance to develop a solid sense of independence. In fact, you could even consider your laissez-faire approach an act of faith in your kids and their ability to figure things out for themselves."

Yes! Yes! That is one of my biggest chastisements of the over-involved, course-controlling parent - you are showing no faith in the child's innate ability to learn and grow in a direction set forth before birth by their souls. In fact, you are treating your children as if they were soulless, and therefore in desperate need of your self-ordained Godly intervention.

Here's more from Paesel:

"I’ve noticed that an unintended benefit of my indolence is that my sons have made do with each other as playmates — thereby becoming best friends. This is something I hadn’t anticipated, since they’re almost four years apart. But last Saturday, after spending the entire afternoon with just each other, they told me they’re starting a business together: selling information they’ve printed out from the Internet. I feel proud. And why mess with this potentially lucrative partnership?"

Right. Children learn best from each other. Parents can only input information to children, and that inputting decreases their independent capacities to learn and be inquisitive, and the information being given is always, ALWAYS biased by the parents' set of experiences, beliefs and values.

Keep going, Brett:

"Since Spence [the oldest] wants more sophisticated company, he’s teaching 3-year-old Murphy to read. Spencer started reading at around 4 because, though I love reading chapter books, I tired of his repeated requests to hear dry accounts of the life cycle of beetles or termites eating dung. If he taught himself to read, I told him, he wouldn’t have to depend on me to entertain him. Now he has something to do on long car trips while Daddy and Mommy rock out to Led Zeppelin."

Mmm-hmm! But what about domestic duties?

"I wish I could say parenthood has awakened my dormant interest in cooking. But it turns out the interest isn’t dormant — it’s nonexistent. So in an effort to keep my kids healthy, I’ve stumbled onto the raw foods craze. True, Spencer and Murphy won’t eat foods that touch each other, but they do eat tons of fresh strawberries, broccoli, and avocado. So I’m not just a mom who can’t be bothered to sauté; I’m on the cutting edge of nutrition. I can’t face picking up toys that will simply wind up back on the floor. As a result, I’ve mandated “clean-up time” after dinner: The kids have to throw all of their toys in the appropriate bins in 10 minutes, and then they get their gummy vitamins. I set the kitchen timer, and the boys run around picking up toys like it’s an Olympic event. Their lucky wives are going to thank me later."

That's a big one. I am always railing about how treating your children like Princes or Princesses, with the parents in the role of servants, is not only discouraging the kids from ever growing up, but also making it impossible for them to be in an adult relationship one day. I can assure you that no adult partner is going to trim the crust off your son's toast when he's 30 years old, and any daughter who continues to need to be told that she's the "fairest in the land" in order to feel secure is in for a lot of psychotherapy!

More:

"As Spencer and Murphy have gotten older, they’ve found it increasingly difficult to fall asleep at 7:30. I, however, still need two or three hours to myself at night, precious childfree time to devote to my husband and Jon Stewart. So, instead of pushing their bedtime, I’ve created “Adult Time”: The boys can stay up until 9, talking and playing quietly, as long as they don’t bother me for anything more involved than a glass of water. “Adult Time” was initially enforced to serve my needs, but I’ve found the boys enjoy conspiring and giggling in their beds. Last week, I was delighted to be shooed out of the room when I came in to close a window. “No adults allowed,” Spence said. I deferentially retired to the living room and a make-out session with my husband under the unknowing eyes of Jon Stewart."

JOY! JOY! JOY! ADULT TIME!! Listen, folks, if you're an adult and you think you don't need much adult time, YOU'RE NOT AN ADULT! And if you think you don't need regular doses of heavy-duty making-out, you're letting your children know how passionless adult life will be for them one day, too. Like the author/mother here demonstrates, when you live your life like an independent, sensually alive adult, your kids become self-reliant and confident, they love their bodies and feelings, and they discover the true joy of mastery. One of the things James Lipton of the Actors Studio is always remarking on is how many really successful and talented actors who come on his show came from broken homes, either through divorce or death. Well, how obvious is that? LESS PARENTAL AVAILABILITY equals MORE SUCCESSFUL OFFSPRING!

Thank you, Brett Paesel! You are one heck of a great lazy mom!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, I really think this point of view is refreshing, especially in light of what so many parents are struggling with these days.
I think your insights are absolutely correct and I do believe that the children with a smaller dose of parental involvement/influence, at least in my family, actually seem to fair better as adults.

However, I wouldn't say "LESS PARENTAL AVAILABILITY equals MORE SUCCESSFUL OFFSPRING!" I believe being available is important. There are too many unavailable parents today, even if they are over involved! How can you be truly available if you haven't given to yourself?
Instead, I would say: less input, interference and overall involvement would certainly have a positive impact.

sam said...

To see the actual article, and to find more Wondertime articles, go to wondertime.com.

sam said...

Here's the actual link to "In Praise of Lazy Parenting".

Isabel Pareja said...

"I believe being available is important. There are too many unavailable parents today, even if they are over involved! How can you be truly available if you haven't given to yourself?
Instead, I would say: less input, interference and overall involvement would certainly have a positive impact."

I completely agree with the person who wrote this above. Being available for our loved people, and of course, for our children, is being human. Interfering in their development and lives, that's a whole different story.

 

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