THIS is one of the most enjoyable articles on parenting I have ever read! It's called: "IDLE PARENTING MEANS HAPPY CHILDREN," by Tom Hodgkinson.

I'm just going to print excerpts and not even comment. Click on the LINK HERE or above to read the whole piece.

All of what follows here is Tom Hodgkinson:

I recall when our eldest child, a victim of chronic over-stimulation by his anxious parents, screamed "I need some entertainment!" during a bored moment. A chilling comment, particularly from a five-year-old. What now? What next? These are the questions our hyper-stimulated kids will ask. What has happened to their own imagination? There is a way out of this over-zealous parenting trap, a simple solution that will make your life easier and cheaper. It will make your kids' lives more enjoyable and also will help to produce happy, self-sufficient children, who can create their own lives without depending on a Mummy substitute. I call it idle parenting and our mantra is: "Leave them alone."

The welcome discovery that a lazy parent is a good parent took root when I read the following passage from a DH Lawrence essay, Education of the People, published in 1918:

"How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning."

To the busy modern parent, this idea seems counter-intuitive. Aren't we always told to do more, not less? All parents have a nagging sense that somehow we are doing it all wrong and that more work needs to be done. But the problem is that we put too much work into parenting, not too little. By interfering a lot, we are not letting children grow up and learn themselves. The child who has been overprotected will not know how to look after himself. We are too much in children's faces. We need to retreat. Let them live.

I love DH Lawrence's idea of childcare. He says babies should "be given to stupid fat old women who can't be bothered with them… leave the children alone. Pitch them out into the streets or the playgrounds, and take no notice of them." Do not view them as raw material to be moulded into an obedient slave for the workplace of the future. Let them play. And yes, get your friends around. Life is so much easier when the work is shared. Friends bring laughter and joy. There's no sadder sight than the lone parent, pushing her child around the gloomy municipal park, trying to tell herself that she is having a good time.

My idea of childcare is a large field. At one side is a marquee serving local ales. This is where the parents gather. On the other side, somewhere in the distance, the children play. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. I give them as much freedom as possible.

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work;
We pledge to leave our children alone;
That should mean that they leave us alone, too;
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born;
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals;
We drink alcohol without guilt;
We reject the inner Puritan;
We fill the house with music and laughter;
We don't waste money on family days out and holidays;
We lie in bed for as long as possible;
We try not to interfere;
We push them into the garden and shut the door so that we can clean the house;
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small;
Time is more important than money;
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness;
Down with school;
We fill the house with music and merriment!


hartkitt said...

Reading this post sent me off on one of those hours-long internet research trails so thanks for that! :)

Anyway, at it's heart the Scylla and Charybdis of the parenting world are "Stranger Danger" and "helping our kids get ahead in an increasingly competitive world." To address either properly requires 24/365 attention and labor from both kids and parents.

I've heard a number of people say that they would LIKE to let their kids hang out, play outside, be normal kids and not have to be Hyper Supervision Parent all the time but it's too dangerous. So, one might ask, is it REALLY too dangerous?

For some nice, grim statistics that address what really threatens our children:

The study on this page details what kids in NYC are actually dying from.

the blog of “America’s Worst Mom,”: (always one of my favorites for putting irrational fears in perspective. Most deadly animal in the US?: Deer!)

Have fun and don't take candy from strangers.

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