Calling All PP Parents — Your Input Needed!
Peak Prosperity has been approached by a major news publication interested in hearing our audience’s thoughts on a perceived trend towards more “relaxed” parenting.
Here’s what has been sent our way:
The story is about relaxed parenting—how we’re moving away from the helicopter-style of recent years and more towards the more laid-back style in the 70’s and 80’s, and weighing the pros and cons to this (how it’s great to see siblings playing with one another outdoors and figuring things out on their own, but also the question about safety when things aren’t supervised enough).
If you are a current parent of children, do you have any input to share on this topic? If so, please let us know in the Comments section below.
Any thoughts you have will be fine, though here are some questions to get things started:
- Are you intentionally trying to be more “relaxed” in your parenting when it comes to supervising/controlling your kids activity? If so, why?
- What are the benefits you’re hoping a more relaxed parenting style will yield? Are you seeing success? What trade-offs (if any) are you struggling with?
- Is your more relaxed approach creating any issues with your spouse or with other parents of your kids’ friends who have more a more controlling approach?
- Are you seeing any difference in your kids attitudes/happiness after adopting a more relaxed parenting style?
- How are you managing digital devices?
- What safety concerns do you have with giving your kids more autonomy?
Time is of the essence, as we’ll be having an interview with the publication Friday. If/when the interview is published, we’ll post it on the site.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I certainly do Adam. Let me know how I can help.
I’ve added some questions in the original post above that would be great to hear your feedback on.
Or, if they spark other feedback you may have on the topic, share that instead!
I’m the parent of a two year old.
The pendulum swings. My experience has been that there is a backlash against extreme helicopter parenting but that we wont be swinging as far the other direction as to have lawn darts, no car seats, etc because we have integrated safety measures into our “normal”.
My 2 year old has fruits, cheese, and drinks on the bottom shelf of our fridge and knows how to open the fridge and get them. She has a step stool she carries around the house to turn on lights and wash her hands. I wont impede her development with my hovering.
But my cousin had child protective services called on her for allowing her school age children to play in the yard, 5 feet from the house, with the door open. She was sitting on the couch in the living room watching them through the 4×6 window.
Neighbors call the cops here if you are not helicopter parenting. I live in Tennessee.
I have 4 kids – 5, 4, 2 and 1. There are some things that I allow my kids a lot of freedom for and others that I’m pretty strict. I’m a stay at home mom so there are things that I can do by virtue of being home.
They started solids with baby led weaning (no mush – sticks of soft foods they explored and ate as they wished) and get their own water from the Berkey filter. They have been cooking from about 1 or 2 – washing vegetables, cutting, cracking eggs, measuring ingredients, mixing batter.
being close in age, they play together a lot, invent their own games, fight, gang up on each other and definitely gotten in trouble for pinching, kicking, name-calling etc.
however, my eldest had very limited sugar or salt before age 2, no screen time before 2. It’s more lax now that they’re older and daddy gives them contraband gummy bears. Even so, the older kids probably average an hour of screen time a day or less. The baby is getting away with more, earlier than the others but I just can’t enforce it the same way.
there are times I wonder if I gave them too much independence and it’s hard to bring them into line. I don’t think parenting is an exact science – by the time you figure it out, they grow up and the rules change on you … and the next kid is so different you start all over. I get frustrated because they seem wasteful sometimes but I guess that’s the price of creativity. One of them got flowers for her birthday and pulled stems out of the vase to decorate her outfit/hair and ripped off petals to make the table pretty. In her mind, she got the enjoy them and play instead of letting them wilt in the vase – she has a point.
My husband and I value creativity and discovery so giving the kids freedom to explore is important to both of us. He’s more lax with screentime and sugar and I’ve relaxed my expectations as the kids have gotten older.
for now, it’s generally working but we’re tweaking as we go … who knows, we may come around a full 180 by the time they get behind the wheel!
I’m 45 with two girls, 10 and 7. My parents were chill hippies with super high expectations. Small town. Dad, physician. Mom, artist. My two sisters and I had a charmed life but we had to produce for it. If our grades slipped we got lockdown. I was an athlete, rodeo queen, class Pres. and my grades ranked me 13th in my class. My parents created an environment where they let our constant activity keep us distracted and learning about life. They let us have independence within that environment. There was discipline but freedom. I want to emulate all that. We are probably a bit more disciplined with our kids than most (as well as being oldest) of our friends. I think it’s about 70/30 with my friends being relaxed/helicopter. I think what often is missing from both sides is discipline for both kids on behavior (delayed obedience is disobedience) and for ourselves with being present. I think the trend is going to relaxed merely because of distraction. I definitely feel this during COVID times. I think it can be kind of a roller coaster, especially for working parents. You need the time for yourself to get life moving so it’s easy to let your kid watch “the boob tube” as my dad would call it. But then you feel like you have to balance it out and can be overbearing. I felt the days slip away lately as I’d get homeschool accomplished then be overwhelmed myself, and let the kids do whatever, while I scrambled around like a chicken with my head cut off.
I want to be the relaxed hippie, but I also don’t want to raise ass-holes. So my kids get to be independent in their activities but I’m trying to help nurture the environment and opportunities a bit more intentionally. Luckily I was blessed with kids who like to learn and love their veggies.
What I need is long periods of time they are able to work on something so I can work while they do their thing (and we all feel good about it). I NEED them to be able to be ok on their own. Relaxed in our house on screens, without purpose, yields snarky kids I don’t want to be around. It’s obvious that unbridled screen time nurtures assholes. But, they do get on screens. Too much. When I take away screens and leave them alone, what I have to do is be in range, mainly to address bad attitudes. As long as I pay attention to that, they find their own way and play well on their own. They build, make slime, mess up the house, cry with boo boos, but they also have to put the house back together (and not be assholes about it). I am there to help but try my best to avoid helping when they could probably figure it out. The result is a I get to have a life with kids.
What I’m working toward for this summer is involving my kids in making a plan. I call it the Wilderness Training life-skills curriculum. ha ha! We wrote a joy list (they were sure to add screens, of course, and froyo: frozen yogurt). Then I added my list of things I want them to learn that aren’t taught in school (money, safety, self defense). We grouped all those things up and came up with 11 categories. We are brainstorming as a family activities to populate each category that they actually would like to do. It’s been amazing. They named it the SFC, Summer Fun Club. Now our friends and their kids are going to join us. We’ve even worked in screens and froyo in a fun way (movie making and working on a behind the scenes tour of the froyo joint). We are trying to create opportunities for our kids to be doing something by themselves but we know there’s some structure to what they are doing. I really think kids thrive with structure and discipline paired with openness and trust.
I assume that this is for Americans right? Although I do not like generalizations wrt people, I noticed, and experienced, huge cultural differences. The society we live in dictates, to a certain extend, our belief system, the advices we get and give. These “soft boundaries” set by our countries society , are not about right or wrong, or about being good parents or bad parents.
I’m Dutch, and my son is 21. From his birth till his 4th year we lived in Asia. In the expat community, Dutch raising habit were pretty soon subject of reoccurring discussions: compared to other babies and toddlers, Dutch babies/toddlers were usually easy to handle, and parents comparatively stress free. The trick? Regularity. A strict sleeping schedule so that we, the parents had time for ourselves, and the baby was typically well rested (better rested than other babies for sure). What I also noticed is that we allowed our child to be bored. We only had a few planned activities in the week compared to parents from other countries. In our discussions with our foreign friends it became quickly clear that this had to do with the belief that “brains” need to be stimulated to ensure the child best changes in the educational system, while we, believed that a child has to develop its own interests and discover its own abilities and creativity. The best way for this is to let them be bored: amazing things (can) happen with a child when he/she is bored, especially if you let them. Of course there were many foreigners who had the same ideas, but typically it is easier to implement this ideas in a likeminded environment. And it is true: we think that a breakfast consulisting of bread with hagelslag (Dutch chocolate sprinkles riddled with sugar), is a good breakfast when done in moderation, it makes the child happy, and it is lekker.
Back in the Netherlands we never had these kind of discussions, although there was a huge variety here of course, there were more similarities. My wife and I value freedom, independence, creativity and happiness, like most parents I believe. When my son was 7 we allowed him to cycle on his own to school, like most childeren, without helmet of course, only foreigners wear hel ets when cycling over here. We had the agreement, still have, that he would always let us know what he was up to before going on the play date the childeren arranged by themselves.
Our son is now 20, a well behaved, happy youngster. Funny thing: we find it well behaved if he disagrees with something or someones and speaks his mind and is willing to discuss this.
He is not troublefree, he struggled with his ambitions and dreams and the perceived unfairness in our society and education system. He rebelled and dropped out of school. As a parent I of course wanted him to have his degree, but in all honesty, he was, and is right. Now he is working and decided he wants to go back to school. What he got from that is that he is now aware of his personal values and emotional needs, and that these might conflict with the rules and regulations of our institutions. This is all what I hoped for, all the rest will follow.
As for resilience, he takes authorities with a huge grain of salt “you always have to use your common sense” he told my wife wrt the conflicting corona distancing rules. I’m slowly introducing him to anti-fragility. We opened a crypto account after we had a discussion about the money he wasted on needles stuff. It is not about crypto, but about accepting limited losses while opening the possibility to big gains, that is, having a rational approach to risks in life, and to formulate a balanced, “implement and forget” strategy. The amount of money involved? 50 euro, and a monthly 5 euro.
What I learned from being a parent is that many of my primary responses were, and to a lesser extend are, driven by fear. Fear of him needing to struggle later in life, fear of him hurting himself. He once told me that he understood, but that it was his life and his right to experience all that. I cannot agree more, but I find being a parent difficult because it is one big excercise of “letting loose”, but luckily my son raised me to become a better parent.
A proud parent.
All answers are PRE-COVID. Lockdown changed everything!
Are you intentionally trying to be more “relaxed” in your parenting when it comes to supervising/controlling your kids activity? If so, why?
-Yes, very much so. Ever since our kids were young we’d have times where we play with them, and times we’d force them to be “bored” and come up with their own creative things to do. We were more “protective” at first when they were younger, but now, at ages 10 and 13, we let both of our daughters go on walks in our neighborhood, or to our local school, on their own. We regularly left them alone for hours when we’d go out on dates as soon as they were old enough. We give them wide latitude while still keeping tabs on roughly where they are at any given moment.
What are the benefits you’re hoping a more relaxed parenting style will yield? Are you seeing success? What trade-offs (if any) are you struggling with?
We’re not here to raise dependent and needy kids, whose parents ride to the rescue with every one of life’s obstacles. We want them to develop into their own people, and learn to live on their own. That’s our job; not to create little mini-me creatures who rely on us for everything, but to create young women who will be strong, capable of adapting, and independent. Too many parents try to be their child’s “friend,” or swoop in and save their child from every bump and cut, but in our opinion that actually leads to adults who can’t manage failing a test, being dumped by a significant other, or not getting into their #1 college. The trade-off we deal with is that with independence comes occasional turmoil, as they stretch their wings and sometimes push boundaries. Since those boundaries expand as they get older, though, I think our kids know they’ll be allowed to do more as they get older and show us their responsible nature.
Is your more relaxed approach creating any issues with your spouse or with other parents of your kids’ friends who have more a more controlling approach?
No, although my wife sometimes coddles our youngest and doesn’t always enforce time limits on things, but that’s a very minor issue. Our parenting decisions are made together and adjusted as needed.
Are you seeing any difference in your kids attitudes/happiness after adopting a more relaxed parenting style?
They definitely seem more capable of handling independence than most of their peers, and because we’ve always shared the reasons why we make certain decisions and set certain boundaries, they’re pretty happy with the structure we’ve set up. They are also very mature and are willing to learn new things. We’ve also always made it clear that we feel it’s our job to prepare them for life, not constant happiness or the absence of difficulty. That make sense?
How are you managing digital devices?
Pre-lockdown we limited their online “playing” to a few hours a week, usually two or three nights max for about an hour and a half each night. They do schoolwork on their tablets, but we keep them in the common area where we can monitor if we need to, which we rarely do. No digital devices go up into their rooms, because their rooms are for alone time and sleep, or non-digital play, like Playmobil or Barbies.
What safety concerns do you have with giving your kids more autonomy?
With independence comes the increased chance they’ll screw up and hurt themselves badly, or possibly make a bad decision that could be fatal. Every parent knows this fear. But we can’t shield them from everything in life, and if we tried to, we’d end up with kids who can’t handle life’s ups and downs. Our hope is that by the time they leave our nest, they’ve gotten enough experience with independence to be capable of handling it. If they are going to survive life, they have to learn how to fail and get back up on their own. We’ll advise them when needed, and help mend the wounds if they ask, but we won’t keep them from learning how to ride a bike just to avoid skinned knees and possibly worse. Life is a balance between reward and risk, and they have to learn for themselves how to maintain that.
Of course all of this is age-dependent; when they were young we were more hands-on.
I’m a parent of a 3 yr old boy and we’re very intentionally relaxed in our parenting. I’m a big fan of home education (I was home ed myself for a time as a teenager) and more specifically “unschooling.” I’ve found that I’m unusual because most parents don’t identify as “home ed-ers” unit their children reach school-age. But knowing that’s the route we’re taking means that I’m already encouraging his natural love of learning and trying not to get in the way of it as much as possible – either through disrupting him, quizzing him, forcing something upon him or preventing him from attempting something that he is ready to try.
I want him to find his own way, struggle with problems and discover solutions for himself both physically and mentally. Obviously, we don’t leave him to struggle beyond his own level of tolerance. We’re never far away when he gets frustrated and needs our help. But by working things out for himself he learns that he’s able, capable and even unstoppable; he learns to be independent, he learns perseverance, and he discovers his own limits in his own way. We don’t have to be there to solve or do everything for him. And he’s already an amazingly confident and capable boy, physically and mentally. I say this with some perspective. I’ve been a circus teacher for over 20 years and I see him able to do things (physically) that 6 or 7 year olds often struggle with.
The biggest problem is that he’s sometimes confident beyond his capacity. For instance, we taught him how to cross the road very early. So now he stops, looks and crosses but doesn’t always look closely enough for approaching cars! But this is something that we can manage – all we have to do is ask him to stop at the road and he will wait for us.
It often creates a bit of friction between his mum and me. I have a very high tolerance for risk (I’ve taught too many kids trapeze and acrobatics to get scared of injury too easily) so I’ll often want to let him do something that she doesn’t. We work it out though – and that says more about our relationship than about anything else. I also think that that’s a natural difference between mums and dads – two natural protectors, protecting in two different ways.
Thanks for asking.
My wife and I have 5 kids, from age 24 to 5. We have definitely drifted from more to less control as more kids arrived. Although we may not have been hekicopter parents at any point, we have certainly learned that our words and external control efforts yeild less benefit than our example and their imitative.
We live on a bit of partially wooded acreage where occasional bears, coyotes, and unknown dogs show up. We have rose bushes and blackberry brambles which are thorny. We have flying and biting insects of various sorts seasonally. But the kids spend most of their time outside, they explore, forage, whiddle, cook, sew, and ride the zip line unobserved. When we go to the nearby lake, strangers comment on their kayaking and paddle board skills being above their age. They feed the chickens and goats and visit with them, mimicking their sounds.
I have observed that they WAY more from doing than from listening, so candidly, id like go further in the direction of giving them more access and exposure to varied experiences.
There is an old crocodile Dundee movie where a stranger is amazed to learn that mick’s son has killed a wild bore on his own at age 7. Mick replies sheepishly, yeah, well, better late than nevah..