There are a few universal truths about parenting that we can all agree on; parenting is hard, parenting is often a mystery, and no parent will ever escape at least some criticism from other parents.
One mom on TikTok called @treeeflower is feeling this last bit of universal truth after she posted a controversial video in which she says that her ten-year-old daughter has never been to school, has no bedtimes or screentime limits, and is self-directing her education.
The controversial video has 420K likes and has been viewed more than five million times.
It also has attracted quite a bit of hot commentary, and as of the writing of the story, the comments have been shut off.
But looking through the creator’s account, it seems that the theme of posting her controversial parenting ideas (she tags each video as controversial) appears to be more about baiting angry comments than having any real discussions about parenting methods.
She noted in her videos that her daughter hasn’t been to a restaurant in more than two years, she’s never been to school, her education is entirely self-directed.
The videos are set against idyllic country landscapes, presumably on her farm or homestead.
She rarely or never speaks but instead sips coffee from artisanal mugs while written statements about her parenting style pops-up on the screen, and she refuses to reply to legitimate questions asking her about why she’s made these kinds of parenting choices.
While the internet is heated about @treeeflower’s parenting style, two things stood out to me as a mother that I wondered about; the lack of a routine and no apparent bedtimes.
Now, this is speculation because we can’t possibly know the details of this family’s daily life from a twenty-second TikTok video.
Still, if her claims of a bedtime-free and routine-free life are true, then I can’t help but wonder how that squares with what science tells us kids need to thrive.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids at the age of ten-years-old need between 9 and 12 hours of restful sleep each night.
Part of why bedtimes are so important is that be creating a sleep routine or good sleep hygiene.
With good sleep, a child can fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and go through all the cycles of a good night’s sleep that can help support a healthy immune system, growing brain, and body. In other words, a regular bedtime is a routine.
Kids thrive on routines.
In one study reported by Reuters, pre-schoolers who stuck to a routine were more emotionally and socially healthy than peers who did not stick to a routine.
The study looked at the routines of 8,500 kids and found that each routine event led to a 47% increase in the chances of developing social-emotional health, which
“allows children to express their feelings, understand others’ emotions and develop and sustain healthy relationships with peers and adults,”
Dr. Elisa Muniz, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York told Reuters.
Studies have shows that kids who have routines in the home that include regular bed and mealtimes, expectations of helping out, and boundaries around behavior will feel safer and more supported than kids who don’t have these kinds of routines and boundaries.
So, while part of me looks at this TikTok controversy and wonders if people are upset because the mom’s rules for her kid are so unorthodox.
Maybe she’s even being unfairly judged. I want to defend her right to parent the way she sees fit.
Her TikTok claims about her parenting style aren’t all bad either.
After all, she also boasts that her child never gets spanked and doesn’t eat fast food either. Both of those are certainly not detrimental to a child. In addition, the videos of her daughter show a happy child exploring the world.
We have to wonder, this is social media, and people often seek out attention online. Maybe she does none of her claims, and is only trying to stir the pot for more followers. I guess we’ll never know.
Her parenting style may be controversial, but, one thing we do know is that nothing can change the fact that a child needs regular sleep and routines.
You can check out two of her TikTok videos below. Let us know what YOU think in the comments.
Side note: Coffee was hot