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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Raising independent children isn’t child abuse.

Lately, I have noticed a startling trend: children who are wholly dependent upon others to meet their own needs. Not babies, mind you, but preschoolers and even adult children. In our efforts to become the perfect mothers in our Pinterest-centric generation, we have started coddling the crap out of our kids. Not just providing our kids with what they need to survive and thrive, but providing them with every single thing they could possibly imagine, from iPads to tantrum-induced food choices. Our kids are losing the ability to think and do for themselves.

This child-centric way of living is a far cry from the parent-centric world that most of us grew up in. We listen to Yo Gabba Gabba in the car, watch Caillou on the TV, make dinners around what our children will eat, schedule our every waking moment around our children. This is insanity. Just think what your dad would have said growing up if you had demanded all of this. My dad would have laughed his ass off and told me to get my over-privileged butt outside and rake the leaves.

But we are often left feeling like if we don’t do everything we can to make our kids as happy as possible, we are a shitty parent. The opposite is true. When we coddle and handhold our children through every step of life, we are setting them up for failure. Our children need to grow up with a realistic view of the world. Everything will not always be handed to them. Everything will not always go their way. Some day, they will need to fight for what they want. And we need to give them the strength and confidence to be able to do that.

People often act like I am abusing my children when I make them clean up after themselves or keep trying something that is hard and frustrating. Or they will say, “Well, it’s just easier and takes less time if I just do it for them.” Sure it is, but you won’t be there to do it for them forever. Or at least I sure as hell hope I’m not! Children need to learn to do for themselves. To explore. To learn. To grow. And now is as good a time as any to start giving your child the power to change things. Even if it is something as simple as putting an empty wrapper in the trash.

What we need is balance. To raise children who know that we will be there for them whenever they fall, but that it is OK to try and fly. We need to give our children the opportunity to make decisions and do things on their own. Because right now we are raising a generation of children who won’t even be able to tie their own shoes when they go to their first job interview.

But we are awesome parents. And we can change that. We can empower our children. We can give them the chance to fall. But also the chance to dust themselves off and keep going. 

If you share this post, I will buy you a pony. I suck at Twitter. I am OK at Facebook. Pinterest is my bitch. I am also on Bloglovin' and Instagram.


  1. Yes! Preach it from the mountaintops! Thank you saying it--in our overly technology saturated, it's unnerving to find yourself in the minority when it comes to parenting. It's like the mommy club shuns you if you don't agree that your children should be the Sun to your universe. You have reassured me that there are others who feel the same way :)

  2. That was fabulous. I have watched both type of parenting in action and the ones that feel they are the sole reason for their child's happiness and entertainment just seem so frazzled. Ugh. I hope I fall into the independent approach.

  3. "This is insanity. Just think what your dad would have said growing up if you had demanded all of this. My dad would have laughed his ass off and told me to get my over-privileged butt outside and rake the leaves."

    Word... that is *exactly* what my dad would've done.... "The world does not revolve around you" is something I heard frequently growing up. And frankly if I still lived near them, I'm pretty sure I would still hear it!

  4. As someone who teaches college, yes and yes. Even education has taken on this dangerous trend. When people say we need to "engage" students, often they mean entertaining them. The result is students who are not responsible for their own learning.

    Do you want to employ someone like this someday? Didn't think so.

  5. I love this and I love this blog! I have a ten month old little boy and your words of humour and wisdom got me through the haze of newborn parenting! I look forward to each new post, you always remind me to laugh!

  6. Did you say douche canoe comment? I love your blog already. Hello! New reader here. Great post. Awesome points. Totes. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. It's, ok, the parents now go on the interviews w/ the children. Seriously. I've heard news reports where the parents call up an employer to brag about their kid or find out why they didn't get a job or want to come w/ them on an interview. What's worse is the employers LET them.

    I've written about this new phenomenon & you may want to join my movement, Detached Parenting:

    Are you good at Stumbling? I stumbled your post. Pony please!

  8. Seriously. Just seriously. This.

    We use a mix of attachment parenting and montessori.... Kinda like here is a hug now go figure it out.

  9. Also I shared on pinterest and google+ I am not good at Google+ but i am trying so thats like extra points.. So I expect two ponies

  10. This is so true though. I see this on the daily. I am a university student and I have friends who are still being spoon fed at this age, and it is evident in the way they act and react when they do not get their way. Personally I feel like parents must stop treating their children like an egg that will break if it doesn't get its way. Parents should show some tough love and teach their children to become INDEPENDENT.

  11. It's not just good for when they need to fight, they need to know how to look after themselves for their day to day lives. In the last few years, I have met a frightening number of twenty-somethings who have never washed dishes, done laundry, or eaten a sandwich. They move out of home and look after themselves about as effectively as the average three year old would, mainly because nobody is rewarding them for doing unpleasant things, so the unpleasant things just don't get done.
    Making your kids end up like THAT is abusive.

  12. I agree with you 100%. I don't spend every waking moment entertaining my child as I feel she needs to learn to play on her own sometimes and that other people have things to do as well...yet sometimes I get the feeling that expecting her to entertain herself is a bit taboo, like it's tantamount to neglect. I also don't let her have full control of the TV all day long. I'm the parent. I'm not going to say I don't cater to her to some extent or sometimes let her call more shots than I probably should, but I generally try to think of how my parents and grandparents would have handled things. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this.

  13. I had a roommate who once got SOOOO mad at the rest of us because (for the billionth time) she forgot to bring her keys to class and was pissed that no one was there to let her in.... um, for real? I sometimes feel guilty that my daughter (currently 13 months) would often rather play on her own than with me, but I also love that she is independent and doesn't rely on me for every little thing. PS your blog is fantastic and I refer all my mommy friends here.


I love hearing from you. It reinforces that writing this blog is not just a silly waste of my brain matter. If you leave a douche canoe comment, I will delete it. I am powerful like that.

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