Why You Need to “Neglect” Your Children
In Raising Self-Sufficient Children in a “Needy” World, we talked about how I was raised, what it means for kids to take care of themselves, what it entails, and why it’s important. Today, I want to tell you how I plan to make my kids self-sufficient, independent, self-reliant, responsible, or whatever other synonyms you can come up with that describe a functional and independent adult. Raising self-sufficient children is important in today’s society, but you may need to “neglect” your children to do it.
Is it “Neglect”?
By today’s ridiculous standards (ahem… Helicopter Parents), neglect is:
- Not making numerous menu offerings to a picky eater.
- Not setting up a conference with a teacher when your child receives a less than desirable grade on his/her work.
- Not “helping” them with their homework by practically doing it for them.
- Not stepping in when your child has a disagreement with a friend at school.
- Not stopping mid-conversation to listen to and cater to their needs.
- Not teaching them basic living skills (cooking, cleaning) because you’re afraid they’ll hurt themselves. (It turns out, if you teach them and supervise them carefully, they’ll do just fine).
- Not solving all their problems.
- Not keeping them busy with activities.
I refuse to be a Helicopter Parent.
The learning starts now. In these early stages of childhood, they need to learn to take care of themselves and find happiness from within. They need to be “neglected” a little and left to figure things out for themselves. They need to hone-in on their problem-solving skills without Mommy, and make some mistakes to effectively learn their lessons.
Before you scroll down to the comments and leave a long, drawn-out composition on how children need love and attention to flourish, please understand my stance on this issue correctly.
My kids are and will always be loved dearly. They will still get my attention, will still be fed (well), and they will still have everything they need to survive (comfortably). I will be there to guide them through life, giving them the knowledge and tools (within reason) necessary. I will also support their efforts, help them to understand how the world works, and be a shoulder to cry on when things go awry.
But I will NOT:
- Stop what I am doing to entertain them (on demand) and provide toys and games for them to play with because they are bored. We’ll do actvities together and from time to time and I’ll make some suggestions, but the incessant need to be entertained needs to stop. Kids need to use their imagination and play on their own.
- Spend an hour pleading with them to do their homework. Instead, I will explain to them the consequences of not putting to practice what they’ve learned. They will need to suffer the consequences of not doing their work. If they need help, I’m happy to provide it, but I’m not practically doing it for them.
- Put more effort into their schoolwork than they do i.e. school projects, homework, etc… They need to do their own homework and earn their own grade.
- Seek and destroy the child who disagreed with mine at school. I will instruct them on dealing with people and how to solve problems through negotiation and compromise. I need only step in when situations escalate beyond a normal disagreement.
- Blame the teacher for my child’s grades. Instead, we will determine the issue and best course of action to get them the help they need.
- Shower them with gifts and treats… just because. They need to earn the things they want in life.
- Make excuses or apologize for them. They will need to deal with humility and embarrassment on their own.
- Allow them to waste food or make unhealthy food choices. They need to understand the importance of nourishment and eat what’s on their plate. There are no other options or snacks after dinner, and if they are still hungry, their leftovers will be available to eat.
- Be a slave to my child’s demands or mood. I am not here to serve them and their every want.
- Appease their need for instant gratification by cutting my conversation with another adult short. They need to learn patience. (With the exception being an emergency situation).
I will not foster laziness, irresponsibility and/or neediness in my kids.
What I WILL do:
- Allow them to experience responsibility and humility, and feel loneliness.
- Allow them to make mistakes and suffer the consequences because sometimes, kids just need to learn on their own.
- Allow them to experience important learning opportunities, even if they are hurtful because it isn’t my place to step in.
- I will teach them to work hard for what they want (because it won’t be handed to them), to fight for what they believe in (because they have determination and a voice) and to take care of the things that are dear to them (because either no one or someone else will).
- I will set boundaries and teach them the importance of respect.
I will guide them through life, teaching them how to deal with their problems and become responsible adults.
There may be times when parents DO need to step in, but those are far and few in between. I feel like parents nowadays have far overstepped their boundaries in this area and it’s affecting our children’s ability to grow. Picking and choosing your battles is key. Your children need to experience embarrassment, disappointment, and heartache once in a while…
IT’S A PART OF LIFE.
You cannot protect them forever and it’s better that they learn the soft way now than the hard way later.
After I’m Gone
Long after I’m gone, I wish for my kids to be happy, healthy, and well-functioning members of society. Being their crutch in all matters (big or small) will not achieve this goal. It’s better for them to learn how to deal with issues now instead of having a bomb dropped on them later in the real world. I’m doing my kids the favor of “neglecting” them because it allows them to grow and succeed. Feel free to pass judgement.
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If you enjoyed this post, please check out 10 Ways to Get Siblings to Stop Fighting and Getting Kids to Listen Without Losing It.
What are your thoughts? Do parents overstep their boundaries when rasing kids? Let me know in the comments below.
10 thoughts on “Why You Need to “Neglect” Your Children”
Lots of food for thought!
One thing that jumps out for me, as someone who has spent a lot of years working with parents of kids outside the “norms,” is how one person’s scaffolding (education term) of a child and another’s approach can look similar but have different outcomes. I often remind myself that YMMV– “Your Mileage May Vary”–when it comes to parenting in practice, even if on principle we all have the same goals and ambitions for/with our kid: healthy, fulfilling childhoods, teen years, and adulthood with as much independence as they can obtain while still being connected humans.
Hi Pamela!! Thank you for your professional opinion- and you are right. There is no one solution for every child. Every kid is different and learns different.
Oh my goodness can I bottle you and sprinkle it on our school playground , it’s so refreshing to hear you , love is often confused with giving children everything they want, my own children 3 boys were brought up in a similar way , oldest now 20 recently said to me I’m so pleased you took us to the woods and let us use pen knives to make dens and build dams in the stream and use trays to slide down a steep bank , that’s how we should have been brought up and young kids today are just tech kids, TKs mum your great, oh and you good at fielding in cricket the only mum at school
Hi Michelle! Thank you for your kind words and your boys are lucky. You’re right that most kids are all “techy” nowadays and getting out and exploring- while one of the best things for their development- is at the bottom of their list.I was fortunate to spend a few summers in Portugal with my grandmother as a child and some of my most fond memories come from those experiences- exploring unsupervised. I wonder where all of this will take us as humans.Kids aren’t being raised with basic skills and parents are providing kids with lifestyles that will be hard to maintain later on in life when these kids won’t be handed everything they want. Thanks for stopping by Michelle!!
Thank you! I tell my kids all the time that it is not my job to entertain them. I give them suggestions for things they can do, but I’m not going to drop everything and play with them. I work from home, so this is especially hard in the summer. They know I have regular hours and after that, I’ll do stuff with them.
Hey Kara! I know EXACTLY what you mean. I work from home, too- and it’s not easy when you also have kids at home during the summer.
It’s so refreshing to hear a parent say these words!! Not only say them, but be bold enough to blog them without fear of trolls losing their minds and trashing you.
I just found your blog today and am reading (and loving) many of your posts.
I also live outside of San Antonio – small world!!
Keep the great stuff coming.
Your newest fan
Awwww!! Thanks so much for your kind words, Buffy!! They mean so much to me.
Thank you so much for writing this… I came across your blog when searching ‘needy’ kids on Pinterest! My husband and I are frazzled from constantly having to entertain our grumpy, ungrateful brats! The school holidays start tomorrow and the first task for them to type up a job list to put in their bedrooms… then they are free to entertain themselves for the rest of the week!
Looking forward to reading more of your posts and hopefully having some self-sufficient, polite and grateful children in the near future!
Karen, England, UK