Idle parenting means happy children

… This recent article in the UK’s Telegraph brings up some good points about the dangers of helicopter parenting. Idle parents are good parents, he says, because:

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.

Paradoxically, the idle parent is a responsible parent because at the heart of idle parenting is a respect for the child, a trust in another human being.

While its somewhat flippant tone makes the article come suspiciously close to sounding like a mere balm for those parents who are too lazy to schedule every hour of a child’s day, filling even the down-time of car transportation with educational tapes, I do find myself agreeing with the spirit of what he says. My own childhood was filled with outside play, books, and my own imagination rather than expensive toys and electronics, and if SofĂ­a could have such happy memories as well I would consider it a job well done.

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