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Anyone read the article on 'benign parenting' in The Times today? Any thoughts?

(44 Posts)
ilikeyoursleeves Sat 11-Jul-09 22:21:12

I just read this article and wondered what others thoughts were?

I think I lean far more towards this benign style of parenting and have started to think about it more after getting an email from a mum about enrolling my DS on a storytelling class (!!!!) and also seeing other mums constantly taking their kids places and buying them treats all the time, just cos it happens to be Tuesday or something! I really don't want my DS growing up to expect that he will be ferried about, treated and entertained all the time, he is only 20 months just now but yesterday absolutely loved going into his wee wendy house and knocking on the window to me- he spent about 15 mins doing this, simple pleasures! But does it get harder to not take them places etc as they get older? I don't want to be a 'tough' mum either, it's already proving quite difficult with the inlaws who all have a laugh cos we don't buy DS presents or give him chocolate etc all the time.

What do you think, I'd be interested to hear others thoughts....?

TurtleAnn Sat 11-Jul-09 22:30:27

sounds sensible - what's the catch?

My DS is only having baby swim lessons because I swam 4 times a week before I had him and my DH and I love swimming holidays. Is that benign parenting or selfish?

giddykipper Sat 11-Jul-09 22:32:09

I think the article is spot on. The more you entertain children the more they need to be entertained. Self-sufficiency is very valuable in life.

nigglewiggle Sat 11-Jul-09 22:33:06

Nothing new really. I'm sure MNing allows for plenty of benign neglect wink.

MintChocAddict Sat 11-Jul-09 22:33:40

AMEN to that article. A bit of common sense among the madness. Children need to be bored sometimes and therefore use their imagination to not be bored anymore.

I know children who can't or won't do anything for themselves, can't play by themselves etc and it's very sad. Not really preparing them well for the future IMHO.
Don't get me wrong - I've been to the classes, go to Softplay etc but I think it's really important that this is occasional and seen as a treat and not the norm IYSWIM.

loveverona Sat 11-Jul-09 22:41:15

Think this is great. How refreshing to read something that's not piling on the parental guilt.

TeenyTinyToria Sat 11-Jul-09 22:43:18

I'm all for benign neglect! wink

I think parenting has got ridiculously competitive, and children don't need 24/7 attention and activities.

Ds (2.4) goes to gym class and swimming because he enjoys them, and the rest of the time he entertains himself or we play at home.

civilfawlty Sat 11-Jul-09 22:45:35

Couldnt agree more.

I watch my friend, burdened by guilt because she works part time, lay out toys around the playroom (!) for her son like its a kids club and then follow him around at his whim and I despair. I believe children need to be bored to become creative and resourceful, and that parent subjugating themselves to their child's whims are destroying themselves and their relationships, and implicitly telling their children that they are the centre of the universe. What a crazy version of the world.

My dd and I live in this way because, as a single parent, it was the only way I ever got any space or peace. As a consequence, we have a great balance of companionable space and enjoying doing things together. She comes with me to see friends, and to exhibitions (the things I want to do), is perfectly happy/able to entertain herself independently and is great company.

Mostly, though, the inner resource of the knowledge of independence and creativity, seem to me to be among the most important gifts we can give our children. Plus, soft play sucks.

ilikeyoursleeves Sat 11-Jul-09 22:46:53

Exactly Loveverona that's what I thought, there's too much pressure on mums these days. I am in an email loop from mums I met on mat leave and there is constant chat of what classes their babies are going to, swiming, disco, ballet, storytelling, bounce and rhyme, yoga, salsa blah blah.... It's pretty sad I think. There can be overkill for babies, I'm not totally knocking classes and I've taken my DS to some, but everything in moderation I think!

hoxtonchick Sat 11-Jul-09 22:50:24

i do benign neglect AND sweeties. works a treat.

MollieO Sat 11-Jul-09 22:52:51

Now I know the name for my style of parenting! Single mum so ds has to be able to amuse himself, which he has always done very well. There was another article a while ago about letting your dcs just be and not scheduling their every waking hour.

decena Sat 11-Jul-09 22:54:33

I haven't read the article so don't know what it was about. I take my 2 kids out all the time, we never spend a day in the house, it would drive me nuts. But our days out are usually to a castle, the duck pond, a walk along the road to the bridge to throw stones in, go to the play park, a garden centre etc ie all FREE and usually outdoors.
I agree that going to classes all the time is wrong, knackering and expensive but taking your kids out to enjoy the world around them is another thing entirely.

thumbwitch Sat 11-Jul-09 22:56:30

Sounds pretty much like what I do anyway - hurrah! Although I do take DS to tumbletots <gasp!>

DS has never had pram toys or carseat toys (other than a wrist teddy when he was very small) and he doesn't have a favourite toy that he would be devastated without. And I used to leave him in his cot for an hour at a time so I could get on with stuff (and later in his playpen)

TheProvincialLady Sat 11-Jul-09 23:02:19

Oh I so agree. A friend of mine asked me the other day what I did to make my DS able to entertain himself. Politeness stopped me from telling the truth, which was "because I don't spend 12 solid hours a day pandering to his every bloody whim, and sometimes I tell him to just go and play by himself for a while."

Apart from anything else, it is boring for everyone else to be around. Why ask guests to your house just so that they can watch you entertain your DD? Wouldn't most people prefer to have a bit of adult conversation?

I find the way people are with their young children a bit odd TBH. When they are babies a lot of my friends prefer to keep them sleeping in another room, letting them cry, sitting in a baby chair not getting much attention etc, and then as soon as they become a bit more independent they suddenly focus all their attention on them and every demand is met. Maybe I just know odd people (takes one to know one etc etc)

KTNoo Sat 11-Jul-09 23:13:16

Sounds perfect - this is basically what I aim for but my dcs are STILL not good at entertaining themselves for very long, so now I don't know if I've done too much fun stuff with them or it's just they have particularly demanding personalities.

When did children stop playing in the street? We don't live in uk but am here on hols at the moment, staying with mum and dad. I know there are lots of kids in the street where my parents live but we never see them. I was hoping my dcs could play with them.

Nellykats Sat 11-Jul-09 23:24:35

I think a lot of that is because of parents being a bit competitive... What age did your baby gurgle, smile, walk etc are constantly asked and compared. The baby becomes a race car that must do things earlier and earlier, I can't wait for my 11 moth old to solve his first rubik's cube grin

On the baby class thing, I did go to one, DS took no notice of the singing BUT I got to get out of the house and meet other mums which was nice.

piscesmoon Sat 11-Jul-09 23:38:47

I thought it was brilliant. I always cringe when mothers say 'I devote myself to my DCs' as if this is a virtue, when what they really need is a good dose of boredom and benign neglect.

Gemzooks Sun 12-Jul-09 00:02:14

I very much agree with decena about taking them outdoors and being outside exploring stuff a lot, and when young, they need to be accompanied.

I suppose there is this kind of E. Nesbit/Swallows and Amazons ideal of kids running around the meadows on their own, making up imaginary things, but on the other hand this supercompetitive society and worrying about them being able to get good jobs etc or just excel at things they're good at, that makes you think they should also be going to lots of classes etc. (more like 'Ballet Shoes?').

I get annoyed by there being a kids' version of everything, specially things like baby einstein or baby mozart, as if you can't just play a bit of music to your kid, it has to be put into special bite sized chunks and sold back to you as a product.. same with kids' meals etc.. don't get me started!

Goblinchild Sun 12-Jul-09 08:13:41

See, I've always called it free-range parenting. grin
Less stressful for the child as well, there are long periods of tranquility and reflection rather than every waking moment being an enriching and exciting kaleidoscope of experiences.

Fillyjonk Sun 12-Jul-09 08:37:39

At some point, you know, someone is going to start some sort of "free-range kids" classes and then we will be in a great quandry hmm

I think what works best for kids is if stuff isn't planned around them 24/7 BUT they are free to join in with adult activities, conversation etc. Then they feel respected and are willing to potter off. They also learn important life skills. I don't go for this great divide between adults and kids, I think we're all people. This translates into both me not catering to their whims (we negotiate stuff as a family) AND to me including them in my life as far as possible. I don't struggle to drink a coffee in peace, not at all (the worst that is likely to happen is that a child might insist on MAKING the coffee, but that is ok as they do it very well and furthermore have perfected using a frother on the milk, far better than me)

But re the "But does it get harder to not take them places etc as they get older". Yes I think it does, really. Because we don't live in a swallows and amazons type society, because my kids are city kids (which I think is a good thing), we have no back garden. I have to be with the outside 24/7 or risk social services. And kids do need to be outside for most of the day, I think. Nowadays, its very hard for kids to access a lot of stuff without an adult there.

Oh and re inlaws. tbh, IMO gps are there to spoil kids if they want to. I am being philosophical- I speak from the trenches here <sigh>

squeaver Sun 12-Jul-09 08:41:44

Isn't benign neglect what you sign up for when you join MN?

scrappydappydoo Sun 12-Jul-09 09:09:26

I love the idea of 'free range' parenting but I wonder what age they are thinking about when writing the article?? As hard as I try it just doesn't work with my dd1 -I cannot go 5 minutes without being pestered for something or there is some crisis and saying go and play works for a couple of minutes before the next crisis. I take this as her being a normal pre-schooler and hope she will get better as she gets older. but for now courtesy of the article I have another thing to feel guilty about - pandering to my child - gee thanks hmm

ihavenosecrets Sun 12-Jul-09 09:16:33

This is how I parent. We do do lots of sports clubs after school but other than that it pretty much sums up my parenting style!

spicemonster Sun 12-Jul-09 09:19:05

I like this article because it makes me feel less guilty that my DS is pretty good at entertaining himself for long periods on end. Benign neglect, heh

Wonderstuff Sun 12-Jul-09 09:20:47

I was saying to a friend the other day, its about getting the balance between encougaring independce and neglect smile I definitly subscribe to the letting them get on with it whenever possible school of thought.

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