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Benign neglect as a parenting style under threat

(96 Posts)
OrmIrian Mon 13-Jul-09 14:03:13

[[http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8147000/8147194.stm ]]

I am the arch-benign neglecter. I say yes to most things my DC want to do. I don't fret about anything they do. I assume the best not the worst. I don't make my DC wear a helmet when cycling. They don't have a net on the trampoline. I let them play in the park unsupervised.

And as far as I am concerned that is the best way to parent my children. So far they are doing very well.
And it is my business.

But it would seem not from the link above (not the only recent example of this). I could have been 'done' for that yesterday as I did almost exactly the same thing as she did.

Anyone else begin to feel beleagured? I am glad I am not having any more TBH.

OrmIrian Mon 13-Jul-09 14:04:36

Hoping this one works!

abraid Mon 13-Jul-09 14:06:54

That poor woman.

CaramelisedOnions Mon 13-Jul-09 14:14:52

totally agree with your parenting style...my kids do ACTUALLY have some unsupervised time in their lives too. so far so good, they are alive, happy and I am not a frazzled mummy running after them to ensure they are 100% safe 100% of the day.

We need to give our children a sense of their own responsibility and trust and isn't that what we all talk about, the good old days when we were younger and we played away from our parents all day at a mates house. It is of course not that different today and is essential to give your children the trust and space to do their own thing.

I have to say though that DD (10yo) saw some kids climbing a tree and said that she thought they should all have hard hats on and an adult to supervise them as that is what she had at a camp.....gawd!!

nigglewiggle Mon 13-Jul-09 14:18:37

I have some questions before I decide whether I agree with you or not.

They say the eldest child was 9 - how old was/ were the other children?

How long did she leave them for?

The police would not "log details" just because they happened upon children playing unsupervised. It implies to me that someone has called the police because of concern. A computer log has therefore been generated and her details have been logged once she had been located.

If there was cause for concern, then perhaps there is justification for questioning the suitability of this woman to be responsible for other people's children.

I presume she can explain the circumstances to the church and they can decide what to do in possession of both sides of the story.

I'm all for benign neglect by the way, but we need to know more facts before deciding that this is a fair example.

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Mon 13-Jul-09 14:20:23

It makes me sick actually.

What really really pisses me off, is that what we do know about cotton wool parenting, is that it leaves children unable to make realistic risk assessments, fearful, lacking in confidence and generally incompetent.

And that's better parenting than giving them the self-esteem and self-confidence that comes with giving them carefully measured periods of responsibility, is it? When are ignorant police officers with no knowledge of child development going to put my name on a CRB database because I refuse to let my 10 year old walk to school on his own, even though he is old enough and responsible enough to do so? How comes they get to make the judgement about what constitutes good parenting or not?

OrmIrian Mon 13-Jul-09 14:22:39

I don't know niggle.

Blackduck Mon 13-Jul-09 14:26:55

OMG - half the park would have got done yesterday.....We were at a local event (music etc) and the children largely ran around on their own (not always in sight) and got on with it......Children need independence...

ihavenosecrets Mon 13-Jul-09 14:28:23

I'm lost for words.

abraid Mon 13-Jul-09 14:32:30

I've been leaving my very capable daughter alone for 40 minutes between 7.30 and 8.10am once a week while I take her brother to an early morning choir session. I've done this since she was nine. She does her piano practice and gets her school bags ready and we keep in mobile contact (my son rings her while I drive).

I've always told her to keep her mouth closed about it at school (although our good neighbours know she's there and she knows to ring them if she needs help).

The other day a friend's father dropped off a letter and heard her playing her cornet. My car was gone so I was obviously not there.

I am just waiting for someone to 'say' something to me about how surprised they were she was by herself, etc. The next week I thought I should perhaps take her with me in case there was going to be a fuss, but then I asked myself why the hell she should be made to sit in a car for 40 minutes when she's so sensible and I'm so proud of how she gets on in my absence? It didn't seem very fair.

OrmIrian Mon 13-Jul-09 14:38:18

That kind of thing is quite common round here abraid. Children seem to be expected to be more grown-up than seems to be the norm on MN. I think it's a good thing. But wondering if it's a way of parenting that is under threat in some ways.

abraid Mon 13-Jul-09 14:44:27

I think you're right.

Part of it, I think, is that people don't understand the nature of risk. Just because certain awful things have a lot of media time doesn't mean they're actually very likely to happen.

shonaspurtle Mon 13-Jul-09 14:45:09

If no-one else let's their child play out alone this also takes away (some) of your choice to parent like this. There is some safety in numbers and when a child being unsupervised becomes a rarity then I do think that child is more at risk.

It is partly (possibly even largely) to do with our woeful lack of skills to calculate risk. There are significant risks involved in cotton-wool parenting but we lack the ability to measure them against the risks of giving them some autonomy at a younger age.

PortAndLemon Mon 13-Jul-09 14:47:28

You might like the Free Range Kids blog

pinkmagic1 Mon 13-Jul-09 14:48:27

I allow mine to play out unsupervised on our quiet cul de sac. Bar 1 other child, out of about 5 families on our street mine are the only other children aloud to do this. I do think some people wrap their children in cotton wool to much.

trefusis Mon 13-Jul-09 14:49:04

Message withdrawn

WannaBeAKitchenGardener Mon 13-Jul-09 14:53:36

oh there is a term for my way of doing things, benign neglect, I like it!

two of my 'neglected' children are emerging into adulthood as secure, independent and interesting people - which is lucky really, as am just too lazy to parent with any sort of intensity

edam Mon 13-Jul-09 14:53:59

Seems completely OTT.

WannaBeAKitchenGardener Mon 13-Jul-09 14:58:18

also it must be terrible to make your children the centre of everything only for them to get out into the real world and realise it doesn't revolve around them at all - I think I know people who have been brought up this way!

Tamarto Mon 13-Jul-09 15:05:38

'but we lack the ability to measure them against the risks of giving them some autonomy at a younger age. '

Do we really? According to who, the lovely nanny state we seem to be developing?

PortAndLemon Mon 13-Jul-09 15:24:27

There's plenty of solid research-based evidence to show that people in general are lousy at assessing probabilities or risks in anything other than the simplest circumstances, Tamarto. Here's one Scientific American article on it, for example.

abraid Mon 13-Jul-09 15:26:24

Trefusis--I feel the pain! So maddening.

JollyPirate Mon 13-Jul-09 15:31:58

Have to say that while I am there in terms of not over worrying I WOULD make DS wear a helmet when riding a bike and NO he wouldn't go on a trampoline without a safety net. Sadly in my time I have seen nasty injuries to children which could have been easily prevented.
Wouldn't want it termed "neglect" though - as far as I can see it's the "learn by your mistakes" method which sadly may also affect the child involved who doesn't understand that they may be taking a risk in bouncing on a trampoline with no safety net for example.
It's not a "nanny state" to say "actually your child will be much safer and less likely to suffer a serious injury if they have a safety net on their tramplone/wear a helmet when riding a bike"

I am on the whole a "yes if you want to" parent though.

Callisto Mon 13-Jul-09 15:33:28

It's yet another example of parents not being trusted to parent. This govt does not trust parents at all and is slowly eroding all parental choice and responsibility.

nigglewiggle Mon 13-Jul-09 16:02:09

Well no Callisto, because no-one has interfered with her parenting, they have notified the church so that they can make a decision on her suitability to look after other people's children. In effect she has been given the green-light to continue parenting her own children as she sees fit.

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