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AIBU?

the writer Lisa Jewell's parenting style

161 replies

Lordofwrongness · 25/09/2022 17:17

I listened to a podcast with the writer Lisa Jewell last week that I keep thinking about. She was saying that when her two girls were toddlers, she met a woman at a party who had four teenage girls. Lisa said that must be a tough gig and the woman said no, it's lovely. Her secret: Let them do whatever they want to do and always be kind.

Lisa now has two teens - a fifteen year old and a nineteen year old. She adopted that philosophy and swears by it. Home was harmonious, she was always a big soft pillow regardless of how her kids talked to her and they're not perfect, they've made a lot of mistakes (the girls) but it seems to have worked. The eldest, who was a pain in the ass, is now gorgeous and wonderful etc.

It made me think. I struggle so much with boundaries - I worry that if we let DS, for example, do whatever he wanted, he'd literally never stop gaming. This is a genuine fear. He's MAD about screen. But maybe I should just become completely hands off, never ever react, be kind and soft - and trust it will pull through!

Just interested in what people think about this approach

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

150 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
73%
You are NOT being unreasonable
27%
Pinkpeony2 · 25/09/2022 17:28

It very much depends on your child though doesn’t it.
raising kids is just not a one size fits all? Some teenagers I know are quiet and introverted. Some are Bolchy and extremely independent. Yes sure some comes from nurture but a lot from nature and personality.
Anyone with more than 2 / 3 kids will know this.
i was a rebellious teen. My sister was as good as gold. We are only 13 months apart and grew up with exactly the same up bringing.
I am so grateful now that my mum had strong boundaries because I would have got into so much trouble otherwise. I wanted to do all the wrong things as a teen. Stupid dangerous things that would have put me in a vulnerable position. Some of them I did and got away with. Many I was prevented from doing by my mum saying no. Thank god there were no phones or social media / only fans is all I can say.
So no. For most teens who’s brains have not fully developed and their risk assessment is far far from mature, boundaries are an absolute must.

Lwren · 25/09/2022 17:29

I do this, it's great.
My kids are lovely, they love being at home and they seek me out for snuggles and playtime.
My eldest loves cuddles on the couch watching horror films and I put a face mask on him etc.
We treat them with respect and kindness and that's how they learn to treat people.
It's hard for people to grasp and I use natural consequences to punishments, never had a problem and my eldest is nearly 16. My younger kids are really kind as well, try it with your DS, when you're worried about screen time etc find a reason for him to come and spend time with you, even a hot chocolate and a gossip, break up the day a bit!

BeanieTeen · 25/09/2022 17:30

Yeah I’ve heard of it - parenting for doormats who can’t deal with conflict basically. There’s this delusion that you somehow have some control by ‘letting’ them do what they want, when basically you have relinquished control completely. Personally I think it sets an awful example to your kids.
Also ‘they’re not perfect’ is the same as when someone who has a very badly behaved child starts talking about them by saying ‘they’re no angel but…’ It’s just downplaying the situation.
It’s also a privilege thing. Someone well to do lets their kids do what they like and it’s deemed a clever parenting style. Meanwhile, mum on benefits living in affordable housing takes the same approach and no doubt most people would call it shit parenting.

MarigoldMoonStone · 25/09/2022 17:34

Thing is if your teens are “bad” even if you don’t let them do it they are going to anyway, and if they are “good” you don’t have to worry about what they want to do so you may as well just relax….I don’t have teenagers so only speaking from my own teenage experience. Don’t know if I could do it, feel like it would be easier said than done

Mardyface · 25/09/2022 17:34

I dunno. I just think this 'how I parent' thing is a bit made up. If I could decide never to find my kids irritating or get annoyed or want something that directly conflicted with what they wanted then maybe but otherwise it feels a bit like a jazzhands tapdance than actual human beings raising other human beings. I think these people probably do have boundaries etc they just go about imposing them in a less formal way. Sometimes that can be with emotional manipulation which is worse than grounding them for a day imo. Other times it's just by communicating them in a different (perfectly healthy) way that is less obvious than wallcharts and punishment.

Binfire · 25/09/2022 17:35

I listened to that too! I love the idea of it but I don’t know if I could ever be that relaxed, it’s not in my nature. I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut and hope that they turn into good people.
I’m not authoritarian by any means and have a great relationship most of the time with my teenagers, we don’t fall out often at all but I do feel they need a lot of guidance and support. I’m not sure I could let them make their own mistakes and just be there with a cuddle. Sounds nice though, I would have liked my Mum to do that when I was young!

megletthesecond · 25/09/2022 17:38

I'd guess it's parenting for people with a lot of money and no fear of social services.

Saucery · 25/09/2022 17:38

There’s a middle ground between “always kind, always soft” and a total termagant. Sometimes dc need to know if they’ve stepped over a boundary, including one to do with basic manners and that it’s not acceptable to speak to people in certain ways.
Also, I have life experiences and I know what I’m talking about wrt to those, so no, I won’t let my dc go ahead and do the stupid thing.

Darbs76 · 25/09/2022 17:38

Only strict rule I’ve had is respect, I’d never let them be rude to me. My 18yr old has never caused me a minute trouble. My 14yr old daughter is no trouble. Never had screen restrictions, my DS got 3 x A*’s at A level and chose to not turn his PS4 on during term times. They know I’d never say no to going to a party etc, but they prefer to be at home. Doesn’t work for all kids, and I’d have changed my stance if things got out of control I’m sure

citychick · 25/09/2022 17:42

OP my teenager is the same. pretty much addicted to his screen. Any screen.
He has ADHD and if I let him do what he wanted when he wanted I'd be letting him down and setting him up for a disastrous future. I haven't heard the podcast but I'll find it. I bought the book
Parent Effectiveness Training. It's more my style. And works quite well for us. Check it out.
As someone above said it depends on your child and I do agree that it's quite a lazy approach.

Hyacinth2 · 25/09/2022 17:43

I bet the DCs brought up without boundaries don't bring up theirs DCs like that.

PermanentTemporary · 25/09/2022 17:45

What Mardyface said.

I do believe that kids pick up a lot just from being around you and I know ds has acted out at times when I've been stressed but thinking I was hiding it. He also eg had a fear of heights when dh had a fear of heights, and did loads of art when dh was an artist. Both these things faded rapidly after dh died. However, he continued with a couple of hobbies that dh loved and still loves them.

A well off parent with a job they enjoy and levels of stress they find manageable is in general going to have a less stressed and easier home life. Children who fit in at school and don't have major health challenges will generally take life a bit easier. Stuff still happens though.

Lordofwrongness · 25/09/2022 17:51

Lwren · 25/09/2022 17:29

I do this, it's great.
My kids are lovely, they love being at home and they seek me out for snuggles and playtime.
My eldest loves cuddles on the couch watching horror films and I put a face mask on him etc.
We treat them with respect and kindness and that's how they learn to treat people.
It's hard for people to grasp and I use natural consequences to punishments, never had a problem and my eldest is nearly 16. My younger kids are really kind as well, try it with your DS, when you're worried about screen time etc find a reason for him to come and spend time with you, even a hot chocolate and a gossip, break up the day a bit!

How do you know I don't do this? We spend LOADS of time together. He's very kind and respectful. Your response was a wee bit patronising, if you don't mind me saying.

OP posts:
Lordofwrongness · 25/09/2022 17:51

PermanentTemporary · 25/09/2022 17:45

What Mardyface said.

I do believe that kids pick up a lot just from being around you and I know ds has acted out at times when I've been stressed but thinking I was hiding it. He also eg had a fear of heights when dh had a fear of heights, and did loads of art when dh was an artist. Both these things faded rapidly after dh died. However, he continued with a couple of hobbies that dh loved and still loves them.

A well off parent with a job they enjoy and levels of stress they find manageable is in general going to have a less stressed and easier home life. Children who fit in at school and don't have major health challenges will generally take life a bit easier. Stuff still happens though.

I think that's really true about having a job one loves, levels of stress at home - it all makes a difference to how you can parent with ease

OP posts:
5128gap · 25/09/2022 17:52

Its ridiculous. If LJs daughters have turned out 'lovely' it's despite this nonsense not because of it.
Some children have naturally less challenging personalities. They are more passive, more risk adverse, conflict avoidant by nature. They gravitate to the activities you would want them to do. You could quite reasonably get away with that sort of non parenting with them.
Other children (most) will display behaviours or wish to do things that are harmful for themselves or others, and they don't have the awareness or maturity to guide or control themselves.
That said, I'm a believer in as few rules as possible, so do as you please, but within boundaries, and those boundaries strictly enforced.

TheGlitterati · 25/09/2022 17:57

One of my friends parents like this and nobody wants to spend any time with her or her children. They’re SO rude, no manners, full of ‘I wants’ and have never been told no.

moita · 25/09/2022 17:59

A friend of mine's parents had this parenting style - she finds it very hard dealing with big emotions and conflict because her mum would take it all and never showed her how to cope with anger etc.

Just a thought.

5128gap · 25/09/2022 18:08

Lwren · 25/09/2022 17:29

I do this, it's great.
My kids are lovely, they love being at home and they seek me out for snuggles and playtime.
My eldest loves cuddles on the couch watching horror films and I put a face mask on him etc.
We treat them with respect and kindness and that's how they learn to treat people.
It's hard for people to grasp and I use natural consequences to punishments, never had a problem and my eldest is nearly 16. My younger kids are really kind as well, try it with your DS, when you're worried about screen time etc find a reason for him to come and spend time with you, even a hot chocolate and a gossip, break up the day a bit!

So when will you teach your DS no then?
Obviously you don't want to raise a man who will have to be coaxed away from his X box by his partner promising another treat instead. So when will he learn that sometimes you just have to do things you don't want to do?
I'm not being snidey with you BTW. Genuinely curious as to how the approach works.

J0y · 25/09/2022 18:09

BeanieTeen · 25/09/2022 17:30

Yeah I’ve heard of it - parenting for doormats who can’t deal with conflict basically. There’s this delusion that you somehow have some control by ‘letting’ them do what they want, when basically you have relinquished control completely. Personally I think it sets an awful example to your kids.
Also ‘they’re not perfect’ is the same as when someone who has a very badly behaved child starts talking about them by saying ‘they’re no angel but…’ It’s just downplaying the situation.
It’s also a privilege thing. Someone well to do lets their kids do what they like and it’s deemed a clever parenting style. Meanwhile, mum on benefits living in affordable housing takes the same approach and no doubt most people would call it shit parenting.

Yeh I can see that this is the path I've gone down.
But dc1 age 19 always made self-invested choices (studying, making friends, studying, working part time).

Her younger brother age 16, well, he can be hostile and silent. But going head to head with him only highlights to him that I have no control over him. So I just have to hope that he chooses to study. He hasn't started yet. But it is his life.

I dont think I ever thought that it was my responsibility to control them. Have shaped them a bit I guess but although my son is not communicative or working hard atm, I don't think that talking about his failings would be something he'd respond to.

My mother micro managed my thoughts so I value just sitting back and seeing who they become I guess.

ICanHideButICantRun · 25/09/2022 18:12

As a PP said, screens are the big problem here and of course if a child is naturally lazy then letting them do what they want (eg getting up five minutes before he/she has to leave the house) would be incredibly stressful. What if they didn't want to do the dishes or bring their plates downstairs?

J0y · 25/09/2022 18:16

I have wished my brother would help me out guiding my so a bit, towards being more communicative and respectful and hardworking. He has spoken to my son a few times and my son listened to him. So it's depressing that I've raided a son who HEARS my brother but ignores me. I still wish my brother would 'guide' him q bit more, with studies and choices. It's really hard as a single parent to an angry teen.

riotlady · 25/09/2022 18:16

If I let my child do whatever she wanted she’d be eating crisps for breakfast, be an hour late for school every day and spend her free time leaning out of open windows and drawing on the walls.

Incidentally I’ve worked with a lot of kids and the most pleasant ones definitely didn’t have parents who let them do whatever they wanted.

charliee112 · 25/09/2022 18:19

I do this. It works really for us. She has screen time but after a hour or so she's off and we watch films together or tv. We go out together, cinema etc. She's 11 now. There's no boundaries. She's always been a good, nice kid and we're very very close. She's never been in any trouble in or out of school.It's hard to explain it well on a forum but it's what works for us.

J0y · 25/09/2022 18:20

By let them do what they want I interpreted that differently. I didnt let my kids eat crisps before dinner but if my dd wanted to dye all her clothes black, I let her! I let her spend her money on more lipbalms when she already had a collection. That kind of thing.

charliee112 · 25/09/2022 18:21

Lwren · 25/09/2022 17:29

I do this, it's great.
My kids are lovely, they love being at home and they seek me out for snuggles and playtime.
My eldest loves cuddles on the couch watching horror films and I put a face mask on him etc.
We treat them with respect and kindness and that's how they learn to treat people.
It's hard for people to grasp and I use natural consequences to punishments, never had a problem and my eldest is nearly 16. My younger kids are really kind as well, try it with your DS, when you're worried about screen time etc find a reason for him to come and spend time with you, even a hot chocolate and a gossip, break up the day a bit!

This is what I was trying to describe how it's like with my daughter but couldn't explain it as well lol.

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