I haven’t always been into lazy parenting.
I’ve dabbled in helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, hummingbird parenting, and more. If it has a label, I’ve likely tried it, mostly on my poor unsuspecting first-born. But you want to know how all of these styles made me feel? Exhausted.
With a side order of resentment. Because I cannot possibly spend every waking moment fully consumed with my tater-tots, bless them, no matter how much I love them.
So I am raising my lazy parenting flag and letting my freak fly.
But what exactly is lazy parenting? By today’s definition my entire generation of fellow ’70s and ’80s kids grew up with lazy parents. We lived in the time of “Don’t come home until the street lights come on!”, Swanson’s TV dinners, Saturday morning chores, after-school specials, banana seat bicycles, and freedom.
Kids played with other kids while grown-ups did grown-up things. Parents provided for the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the kids while at the same time, demanding a certain level of independence.
In other words, they got out of the damn way and let their children do things by themselves. Which, quite frankly, isn’t that what parenting is supposed to be?
While modern-day lazy mothers may not be reclining in chaise loungers tin foil in hand, smothered in baby oil, and successfully ignoring our children, we are sitting back.
We are guzzling the life-saving sweet nectar of our coffee as our 6-month-old plays on the floor at our feet. We are sitting on the park bench instead of chasing around our toddler. We are letting the 4-year-old dress herself (God help us).
We are grinding our teeth and clenching our fists as we bear witness to the shit show that is the 5-year-old attempting to pour milk (mostly) into her cereal. We are deeply repressing our OCD tendencies when the 7-year-old keeps putting the fork on the right, instead of the left. It goes on the LEFT people! LEFT!
And by doing so we are giving our kids the opportunity to step up. To try and to fail and to try again. Because contrary to the current parenting trends, children are capable of more than we tend to give them credit for.
Lazy parenting? Maybe. Or maybe just really smart parenting.
Please don’t misunderstand. There is a difference between negligence and lazy. I am actively engaged in my children’s lives. I show up. I enjoy spending time with them, playing with them, and making memories. Just not every second of every day. Because in case you didn’t know it, parenting is exhausting and you gotta rest when you’re tired.
So no, I’m not my kids cruise director. I don’t fill their days with endless play dates, organized activities, and Pinterest crafting. My world does not consist of bowing to their every whim and fancy. I am not their be-all end-all everything to everyone parent.
I have no doubt some of you are shaking your heads right now. Lamenting the lives of poor little Johnny and Sue. But let’s flip the coin a moment, shall we?
Because lazy parenting is not about relaxing a little too much sometimes.
Lazy parenting looks a lot like kids doing age appropriate chores and being productive members of the household. Kids who have gained the confidence to navigate their way when life gets tricky, without having a constant hand to hold. It’s fostering self-reliance, reasoning skills, and problem solving abilities, sometimes from the comfort of the couch.
Not always being an active participant means my children learn the value of being bored. They learn to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary. The magic in the mundane. All while coming to the realization that the world is not here merely for their entertainment.
And it’s not nearly as easy as it may first appear. It takes patience to be a lazy parent. So much patience. Standing idly by as your child spends precious minutes attempting to zip up his coat by himself? Torture.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes helping is just disguising hindering. If we are constantly there; coaching, aiding, doing, we are, in fact, fostering helplessness. If we live in constant fear of the fall, our kids will never learn to walk.
Lazy parenting doesn’t mean that I’m not showing up. It means I’m just not getting in the way.
So yeah, I’ll take lazy parenting for the win. For my kids and the well-adjusted, independent adults they will become. So next time you see a mom or dad sitting on the park bench instead of playing in the sand pit, hold the judgement. Because they are raising the next generation of people that are most likely going to change the world.