Tuesday 21 June 2011

Lazy Parenting Is The Way Forward

"Best hundred quid I've ever spent", insisted sister Puddlecote on Sunday at a family 'do' while we lounged around on garden chairs - under a canopy to shield us, at least, from the showers - enjoying copious quantities of Arrogant Frog and generally being extremely lazy.

She was referring to the trampoline which was squeaking away metronomically under the weight of four bouncing kids. Just shy of its second birthday, it had already well exceeded the outlay by way of a relaxation cost of around 10p per hour.

I had to agree as the £20 football goal I sourced from eBay in December for the little Ps has also already repaid itself in a most satisfying way, even if it is ripped to buggery now (they have yet to ask for a new one, and I'm prepared to wait). Open the door, kick 'em out with the £4 Tesco ball, and forget parental duties for a good hour or two (apart from the odd sideways glare when it hits too close to the French windows, natch).

Excepting the odd bickering frenzy or cry of pain due to accidental ball-in-the-face - hard - scenario, it's been bliss. Naturally loud, shouty, childhood running around is being done without any effort from your host or Mrs P whatsoever. There's even scope for occasionally sneaking off, should one wish, IYSWIM.

Watch their every move helicopter fashion in a constant state of fear? Do me a favour! Far too much effort, sorry.

Likewise, the trip to the shops.

"Can you take me to the Premier Mart as they have the latest Dr Who Monster Invasion magazine I want to buy"
"Does it involve crossing the main road?"
"OK, be careful and use the traffic island ... and don't wake me up from my afternoon snooze again!"
Yes, they're 11 and 10, but we've been brilliantly adept in the art of raising kids for quite a few years now. No, seriously, it's been statistically proven.

Unlike 'proper' and 'responsible' parents, they eat and drink shit if they like, within reason, as long as they keep the hell away from us when the E numbers kick in - and they finish all of what they are given for dinner. Full stop. No arguments. It's amazing what you can get kids to consume when they are given free reign in just about every other aspect of their lives. No histrionics when faced with 'greens' in Puddlecote Towers, I can assure you. The girl loves a salad, the boy begs for liver ... before gorging on crisps and choccie for afters ... and running outside again. YES, even if it's raining!

On Sunday, when their heads began to glow from the heat after 6 hours of jumping up and down like Plastic Bertrand, we reluctantly put down our wine glasses and got them off the squeaky bounce machine ... to howls of protest!

They didn't half sleep well that night, though. Head-pillow-snore leading to, yes, more parental laziness.

We're can't-be-arsed, dreadfully irresponsible - according to some - parents, you see? And it works.

Wanna go to the park on your own? Sure, don't ever talk to strangers in the incredibly unlikely event that one tries to approach you*. Wanna pop up the road? You know the Green Cross Code, use it. Wanna drink but didn't say please? You'll just have to stay thirsty. Wanna molly-coddling Mum or Dad to bubble-wrap you? Sorry, kids, you've been born into the wrong household.

Lazy and 'irresponsible' works. Risk obsession, and parenting as a professional exercise in oneupmanship, is producing insipid preciouses with no sense of proportion, self-worth or maturity.

Lazy parenting should be promoted in government policy. With tax breaks, please.

* And if one does, scream loud as you can, swear profusely, and kick them in the nuts (or, to be non gender-prejudicial, lala)


Mark Wadsworth said...

Them giant trampolines is excellent value for money.

Anonymous said...

Quite right. And we have a giant trampoline too. Essential parenting equipment.

I've never been sure about the "don't talk to strangers" business though. What kind of a view of the world does that give them? And what does it say about yours?

If it's a reflection of a reality that they're in danger when they talk to another member of the community, you should probably consider raising children somewhere less dangerous.

Anonymous said...

"they eat and drink shit if they like"

Be careful what you say. The Japanese just patented the technology to actually turn this into reality for the ultimate recycling programme to date and probably one to be government mandated very soon in order to save the world from destruction.

George Speller said...

Yup. Brought our kids up on healthy neglect. Couldn't wish for a nicer pair of people, who now bring their kids up just the same.

Dominic Allkins said...

Awesome article Dick - and spot on.

It was the way I was raised and it's how I've been doing the raising. Somehow I've ended up with a pair of well balanced girls with good manners - even if they are occasionally lazy like their Dad ;-)

nisakiman said...

Good for you DP. That's the way my kids were raised. My eldest daughter has two boys of her own now (and a trampoline!) and is following the same course of parenting. She has two boistrous, independant young lads who know how to be polite and well mannered when they must. My youngest daughter is at uni. I was always able to take them both anywhere, confident that they would know how to behave.

A combination of freedom and knowing where the parameters lay (backed up by a clip round the ear if necessary) has made them into fiercely independent and thoroughly nice people. I have no worries for their futures. They will cope with anything life throws at them.

thespecialone said...

I think the only time my mum came and got me was when I broke my arm at the age of 8 having fallen off my bike. Had to be called in for 'tea' and then back out again. In teens it was of a case of she knew who I was with whether boys or girls. No mobiles (it was the 70s), no trouble. Used to disappear all day sometimes during the school holidays and had a great childhood. Being a real boy doing boy things (including in teens with girls :) ). Now 50 and responsible, and so is my sis.

Anonymous said...

I think the trouble is that many parents these days would like to be wrapped up in cotton wool themselves. However, as adults they know they’ll get short shrift if they start stamping their feet and demanding special treatment (yes, I know that a few try, but let’s be honest, how many people – apart from a few do-gooders – actually respect or like them for it?), but they are openly encouraged to achieve this warm sense of “specialness” vicariously via their children. So they do. And as a result we’ve got a whole host of kids now growing up steeped in the idea that they are somehow “special little people” – certainly much more “special” than the next kid or the other kids they know – who are either so paralytically afraid of anyone apart from their immediate family that they have pretty much lost all ability to interact socially or who have developed a whole host of mental and emotional hang-ups through the sheer fear of the dangerousness of life itself.

So it’s good to read on here that there are still a few parents who aren’t afraid that the odd grazed knee or bumped head will result in a lifelong disabling trauma requiring intensive counselling, plastic surgery or a lengthy court case for compensation.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Ciaran: It's simple to understand and has been a staple of parenting for a long while. Yes, it's still an over-reaction but one which adults have been happy to understand for decades. No problem with it, myself.

Niakiman: Fiercely independent is the aim. Good to know it's a course of action that has a precedent. But then, we know this as it has served well for a very long time before terror took over.

Anon: Good point regarding parents who are risk-averse to the point of worrying about their own wellbeing.

And kids are tougher than the prissy will ever understand. Evolution made them that way.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I am 72 and remember roaming around the countryside with my sister (aged 8 at the time) and other kids. A favourite place was 'the old park'. It was not a park, but a strip of land with a river (bigger than as stream, but as big as, say, the Avon,say 5 yards across), running the length of the strip, which might have been half a mile long. Water rats were common. There were certain plants with hollow stems. We used to cut them and make hollow tubes and use hawthorn berries as peas - thus making our own peashooters. But it was also a place for a little picnic after school on fine days, with sundry mothers. It was totally wild, with not even the slightest interference from THE LOCAL AUTHORITY. The LA had no duty of care, and all that shit. I remember also that the water of this little river was FILTHY. It was dirty and full of living wriggly things. Farmers' fields had ponds which, at certain times, filled with frog spawn, which became tadpoles, which became frogs. They also held sticklebacks (tiny fishes). Dragonflies abounded and larks twittered in the sky. Blackberries grew wild in the ditched and hedgerows, and we collected them at the right time of the year. I remember once my 'mate' and I being caught in a violent thunderstorm when we were on his Dad's small holding. We sheltered under trees and watched the lightening flash across the sky. Awesome! Absolutely awesome! If you scrawped your knee and a little blood flowed and you ran to your Mum crying, she said, "Don't be so soft! What are you crying about?" She may then dab the wound with a handkerchief with a bit of spit on it and send you on your way.


Anonymous said...


Thus it was, 60 years ago. No one was subjugated by vast debts. Ordinary foodstuffs were plentiful and cheap. We made our own fun. To the best of my knowledge, there were very few psychological breakdowns.

Am I advocating a return to those days? NO! Poverty is and was very dangerous. What I am advocating is an end to the idea that all risk is to be avoided at all costs, and an end to the idea that Local Authorities have some sort of DUTY AND/OR SOME SORT AUTHORITY to stop individuals and their children taking risks. But it isn't just the fact of the LA assuming responsibility for such risks - it is also the expansion of bureaucracy to monitor risk taking.

Can it be stopped? Yes it can, but it must be recognised that accidents happen. If a child falls into a river and drowns, that does not mean that the LA has failed. I was an accident! The dangerous thinking is that any place NOT labelled as 'dangerous' is not dangerous. There is also the political manipulation of this idea. "Why was that pond,river,stream,hole in the ground, not SIGNPOSTED as dangerous?"

And is that not the entire problem with the smoking ban, in the opposite sense? SHS is SIGNPOSTED as dangerous, when it is not, or at least, not unless a specific person is particularly susceptible. One could say, for example, that a person with Asthma is particularly susceptible to 'harm', although that 'harm' is not especially significant in the sense of life-threatening, or causing the Asthma problem to get worse, once that person is remove from the 'the smoke' - ANY smoke.

It is possible to fight against these idea that risk can be totally eradicated. Or, better still, that IT IS A GOOD THING that risk should be totally eradicated. It is not a good thing that risk should be totally eradicated.

But the likes of ASH and co are advocating precisely that! All risk must be eradicated!

So we can look at all their multiple studies and say, quite simply, "Your studies may or may not be correct, but the really important thing is that they describe MINUSCULE risks, which apply only to a MINUSCULE proportion of the population, and therefore your 'bans' should only apply to the MINUSCULE portion of the population to which your projections of harm apply - always assuming that those people WANT you to interfere.

Is the above a reasonable summary of the way things are at the moment? I think so.

Anonymous said...

We have a 14 foot trampoline, it used to have a safety net until that got torn and broken.

Its still well used, I just warned my 8 year old lad to be careful without the safety net, as it would really hurt if he came flying off into the fence.

Result - no injuries yet, and considering that it's 5 years old, thats the best £200 I have ever spent. His much older step brother and sister also have made good use of it.

On a different note, he learnt last night why I kept telling him not to walk along the park bench at our local field, as he slipped and his leg went down the back of the bench. I got to say "I told you so, and if you break your leg next time don't come running to me"

My wife is fully bought into the whole fear culture that the MSM has given us, I just send him out to play rain or shine and tell him to be back by a certain time.

J Bonington Jagworth said...

"if you break your leg next time don't come running to me"