Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chill Out: A New Parenting Trend

Have you heard of the latest parenting style that involves reclining on the couch, martini-in-hand, while your child occupies herself with legos?  Me neither.  But Tom Hodgkinson's new book, The Idle Parent: Why Less Means More When Raising Kids, describes a new parenting phenomena that may be the best kept secret to raising well-adjusted, independent children. Less helicoptering and micromanaging, more martinis (just look at his cover).  

In a recent New York Times magazine article "Let the Kid Be," Lisa Belkin suggests that this new wave of parenting is on the rise.  It makes sense.  In my opinion, today's parenting styles are a response to the over-parenting of our predecessors, those moms and dads who were determined to ruin our lives, dragging us to orchestra rehearsal because "it looked good" for college. 

Today, however, Belkin claims that parents are saying NO to strict schedules, flash cards, tutors, and violin lessons.  In truth, while I wouldn't call it a laissez-faire approach, it's a relaxed style that involves less in-your-face, over-scheduling and more enjoying life and being.  

I'd like the think that Belkin's right, that perhaps we've been enlightened. But truthfully, as a mom enmeshed in the wilds of suburbia, I've yet to see this theory in action. Instead, I see kids miss out on dirty knees, because they have too much homework in first grade.  As a teacher, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to get up in someone's grill and shout: "Just chill out and leave your kid alone."  

Bottom line: Chill out, Mom. 

For me, this boils down to trusting more and fearing less.  Trusting that our kids won't be paralyzed by Lyme's Disease if they play in the woods.  Trusting that they won't be a failure if they get a C or choose not to go to . . .(oh my God) college.  Trusting that they will find their way and grow to be decent human beings- probably the same decent human beings who will respond to our under-parenting with a tightening of the reigns, and a few martinis.  


Dumitru Caruntu said...

Freedom for Basarabia (Moldova)
A ┼čaptea dimensiune

Anonymous said...

YES! we, as parents, have been actively resisting the intense peer pressure culture of organized sports, eating dinner on the run on the way to activities and bumping our kids up to advanced courses. childhood is a time to be a just BE. we figure if running around like crazy makes adults, well, crazy, imagine what it does to developing souls? while we aren't exactly sitting around drinking martinis as the book seems to suggest, and we do have our kids doing things that they WANT to do (like music & art), we have experienced less stress in our household than we see in other homes.....and that's gotta be a good thing. thanks for posting this thoughtful and brave piece.

C Golightly said...

Right on. I think there is much wisdom to this message. I have begun leaning towards this myself. A balance of activities with learning to entertain themselves.

Amy Leigh said...

Amen sister. I completely agree with you! I may not be a parent yet, but if and when I do become one, I fully intend to live by these principles.

Palymama said...

I think we're moving towards a backlash against helicopter parenting. Let's hope we arrive somewhere in the middle, I think we're all a little happier there.