In the age of helicopter parenting, I’m a bit of a renegade. I’m all about letting my kids live their lives as hands-off as I can. If you see us at the park, my kids will likely be playing solo while I soak up some alone time on a nearby park bench. I may be reading a book, or even scrolling social media.
But this perceived laziness is not just about me getting a moment to breath, it’s about letting my kids use their imaginations for unstructured play. Letting their brains explore and discover what they enjoy doing when they aren’t being told what to do.
Some people may call it lazy parenting, but I see it more as not-raising-children-who-depend-on-me-for-literally-everything parenting. And so, I often sit back and watch instead of doing. Fly baby birds, fly!
I let my kids fail, even when I can prevent it. Not because I’m a lazy scrud, as some might assume, but because there is so much to be learned from failure. It’s an important part of growth. Kids have to learn to fail, and fail gracefully. We’ve all seen the kid that loses their shit when something doesn’t go their way. I’m trying to raise kids who are the exact opposite of that.
Life doesn’t provide constant structure and direction, and there will come a day when I won’t be there to tell them what to do and how to do it. When things don’t go according to plan, I want to them to be capable of handling whatever it is. I want them to know how to deal with hardship without falling apart or expecting someone else to fix their problems. Because I’m not always going to be there to solve their problems.
I don’t jump in the minute things get difficult, and sometimes this means standing on the sideline and watching them struggle. Which absolutely sucks. Miscommunications with friends, hurt feelings, learning a new skill or, being left out—take your pick. It can be hard, and sometimes I want so badly to smooth it over, and make it all better. I think that’s a mom thing, we are natural fixers. But, kids have to struggle, and they have to fail, sometimes. From the ashes of failure comes resilience, and from the sweet victory of a hard-fought battle comes pride and perseverance. Who wouldn’t want that for their kid?
I encourage my kids to settle their own disputes, and sibling quarrels. I don’t jump in at the first sight of blood. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, I would probably stop them if someone was actually bleeding. Well, maybe. Depends if they are inside or outside. They can bleed outside if they want to; I just don’t want them getting blood on the carpet or furniture.
Anyway, the point is, I don’t want to regulate (read: referee) everything my kids do. And honestly, have you seen how much siblings bicker and fight? I don’t have the time or energy to sit down and process through every disagreement with them. If you smack your brother and he smacks you back, I don’t want to hear about it—work that shit out on your own. I’m here to teach them and keep them safe, but I’m nobody’s warden.
I expect my kids to do chores, and help keep our home clean. They have age-appropriate responsibilities, and if they don’t take care of them, they have consequences. This is their home just as much as it is mine. So, let me catch up on some Netflix while they vacuum the rugs—hashtag lazy parent.
And it may seem like I let my kids get away with murder, because I let them push their limits, and try new things whenever possible, but let me assure you, that too is for their betterment. Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch your child attempt to pour a glass of milk from a full gallon, knowing full-well they are going to spill it? I do, because I let them spill it, and then I show them how to clean it up. That’s how they learn what they are capable of, and more importantly, that’s how they build confidence. One day they will pour that milk without spilling a drop, and they will beam with pride.
Kids are often capable of doing things we do for them, because it’s quicker or more convenient to do it ourselves. It would be much easier to just pour the damn milk myself and avoid the mess, but then what does that teach them?
Being a mother is a difficult balance of wanting to give them the moon, and knowing you can’t. You can’t bubble-wrap them to keep them safe, so you have to prepare them for the world. And it’s freaking hard.
So, I guess if taking a step back so my kids can step up makes me lazy, then yeah, I’m lazy. But I’ll take that title any day of the week if it means my babies grow up to be confident, capable adults. If it means they fight their own battles and take pride in their efforts, I’ll be the laziest mama on the block. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make their chore lists.