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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

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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ElspethTascioni · 25/09/2022 23:56

*had he

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Zedcarz · 26/09/2022 00:57

Lwren · 25/09/2022 23:20

You can't be that much fun if he'd rather be attached to a screen, if you don't mind me saying.

Nasty.
Its recognised now that lots of kids use screen time for self regulation among other things, it can be a safe space to wind down after the intensity of schools etc.

People here are wilfully misunderstanding the op and subsequent posters who subscribe to a similar parenting style.
It's not about having no boundaries, it's not about negligence or about kids doing whatever the hell they want and risky dangerous behaviour with no consequences ever.
Anything that challenges your way of thinking or suggests a different way of doing something isn't a threat , it's a post about different parenting styles not a proposal for mandatory child neglect across the board.

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Lwren · 26/09/2022 07:32

Zedcarz · 26/09/2022 00:57

Nasty.
Its recognised now that lots of kids use screen time for self regulation among other things, it can be a safe space to wind down after the intensity of schools etc.

People here are wilfully misunderstanding the op and subsequent posters who subscribe to a similar parenting style.
It's not about having no boundaries, it's not about negligence or about kids doing whatever the hell they want and risky dangerous behaviour with no consequences ever.
Anything that challenges your way of thinking or suggests a different way of doing something isn't a threat , it's a post about different parenting styles not a proposal for mandatory child neglect across the board.

Maybe she shouldn't have said I was patronising when I was just being nice.
Also my youngest has tons of screen time because he's SEN, really helps him.
I don't judge anyone else, I just think telling me I'm patronising was a dick move.

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heidipi · 26/09/2022 07:52

I'm watching this thread with interest - I'd love to be more chilled, but 11yo DD tests us massively. As an example - am reading while listening to DP getting her to brush her teeth before going to school, reminded her straight after breakfast, then he checked with her if she'd done it 10 mins later, but still ended up calling her back from going out the door and getting her to do it. Not actual shouting but both of them ended up angry and she went off and slammed the front door. Obviously something we don't let slide and genuinely don't know how to get her to do it without being fairly authoritarian - similar things at the moment with doing homework, getting off screens, being mean to her sister and answering back. She's always been fine at school (and with other adults) - good reports and nothing ever raised by teachers so she knows how to behave (and does), just pushes back at home. Maybe I just got the first 11 years wrong and this is the result? Aargh.

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Tidyspy · 26/09/2022 07:55

Lwren · 25/09/2022 23:20

You can't be that much fun if he'd rather be attached to a screen, if you don't mind me saying.

🙄

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MorrisZapp · 26/09/2022 08:01

When DS was an unruly toddler I read a childcare expert saying that you don't need to worry too much about discipline, just model good behaviour.

Must admit I've mainly stuck to that, within reason. I'm loving and kind all the time, which is the air he lives in. I'm hoping that the adult who finally emerges is also loving and kind.

He's 12 now and gets really grouchy with us, but is a delight at school and with his friends.

Maybe it's a cop out but I have absolutely no idea how else to do it.

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knittingaddict · 26/09/2022 08:06

I'm firmly in the school of thought that children need and thrive on boundaries, so it's not for me. Doesn't mean that I don't love, respect my children and grandchildren and that they were deprived of fun in any way.

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Lordofwrongness · 26/09/2022 08:24

Lwren · 25/09/2022 23:20

You can't be that much fun if he'd rather be attached to a screen, if you don't mind me saying.

I don't think I was a dick for saying you were patronising. Read the post back. It's like wey-hey, look at me all my kids want to do is be with me and cuddle and it's all because I've nailed this parenting approach. You could have added a line about having a kid with SEN wanting screen all the time, so you understand there are challenges, but you didn't. You chose to come across as a bit smug when I was genuinely trying to seek thoughts on a parenting style that I didn't naturally embrace - but that said, I also didn't say I was being a shit parent who didn't spend any time with my kids.

Self awareness is everything.

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Lordofwrongness · 26/09/2022 08:27

I've read all the messages. There are so many excellent thoughts. It's great to know Lisa's kids are lovely and it's worked - that's fantastic.

I suspect I won't be able to fully release all boundaries - someone said we have to parent in the style of who we are (not paraphrasing) and I think that's true.

But I also think I could do more to let go of the small stuff, give DS the illusion of a lot more control, and I know I can shout/go to quick temper, so probably could do with a more universally kind/non reactive approach.

He talks to me about everything, and that's the most important thing to keep going

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Lwren · 26/09/2022 08:33

Lordofwrongness · 26/09/2022 08:24

I don't think I was a dick for saying you were patronising. Read the post back. It's like wey-hey, look at me all my kids want to do is be with me and cuddle and it's all because I've nailed this parenting approach. You could have added a line about having a kid with SEN wanting screen all the time, so you understand there are challenges, but you didn't. You chose to come across as a bit smug when I was genuinely trying to seek thoughts on a parenting style that I didn't naturally embrace - but that said, I also didn't say I was being a shit parent who didn't spend any time with my kids.

Self awareness is everything.

I just wanted to give a little insight to how it's worked for me. I came from a home of chaos and adversity so I parent completely differently.
With an SEN child you do what you can to get by, pick your battles etc.
I wasn't being smug, nothing to be smug about is there? My kids are treated respectfully and they return in.
Clearly I've rattled your cage so I'll leave your thread be. Sorry for my sarcastic reply, you took my response in a different way that how I'd intended it to be.

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tranquiltortoise · 26/09/2022 08:58

Most kids do actually need boundaries and input from parents. Being too hands off, whilst probably reducing conflict, could result in them feeling confused and lost. Structure and stability are really important and reassuring for children.

It is important to have someone in the world who knows more than you, is experienced, can guide you and takes an interest in you. That's the role of a parent.

The amount/ approach will obviously depend on the individual child and their personality. But I don't agree that you can just leave kids to do whatever they want and they will turn out fine - they'll just have different kinds of problems.

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RudsyFarmer · 26/09/2022 09:01

I was given complete freedom and to be honest I think it was pure luck I didn’t end up dead. Really be very careful with a full hands off approach. I suspect in the cases you mention there was ‘managed freedom’ which is rather different.

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AisforApplePie · 26/09/2022 09:01

I didn’t read your original post as patronising at all @Lwren and don’t see how the OP did, but I think the follow up post was unfair.

I am raising a toddler and I worry all the time about getting the balance right. I hear so much from both sides about how to talk to and deal with your children and it’s so confusing. I worry a lot about raising a well rounded, kind and contended individual. I get you have to do what’s right for your family and your child, but I have no prior experience of children, no one else around and ADHD - I am very lost and confused!

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Lordofwrongness · 26/09/2022 09:01

Lwren · 26/09/2022 08:33

I just wanted to give a little insight to how it's worked for me. I came from a home of chaos and adversity so I parent completely differently.
With an SEN child you do what you can to get by, pick your battles etc.
I wasn't being smug, nothing to be smug about is there? My kids are treated respectfully and they return in.
Clearly I've rattled your cage so I'll leave your thread be. Sorry for my sarcastic reply, you took my response in a different way that how I'd intended it to be.

My cage isn't remotely rattled. I'm just explaining my response. On my part, I genuinely apologise if I misconstrued your intent.

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bodie1890 · 26/09/2022 09:04

"Let them do what they want and always be kind" sounds like a really nice approach in theory. But what about when they want to do something dangerous or stupid?

Do you let them climb onto the roof of the house for example and just assume they will learn not to if they fall off and break their bones?

Of course not.

That's an extreme example - but if you have a child who has been raised being allowed to do whatever they want, as soon as you do need to enforce any kind of boundary, that is going to become very difficult.

Children need to be taught to listen to and respect adults, because adults simply know more about the world and have a better understanding of how things work.

A child raised without any respect for authority of adults is, if nothing else, going to be at more risk of harming themselves or someone else.

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Lwren · 26/09/2022 09:20

No hard feelings at all 💐

I was a very young mum and I'm typical high school drop out, bit rough etc so when I became a young single mum I had lots of advice on what or not to do and I did something which I think many parents should do, ignored everyone! After years of trying to do what everyone thought I needed to do. Honestly everyone and their fucking dog had opinions which was hard, trying to please everyone so I came up with my own concept, which is dated now, but I called it, "one rule, don't be a bellend" and that was it. I wasnt a bellend to my kid, so I explained why he couldn't have things when he couldn't, and he appreciated understanding why, just as a quick example. (I was very poor when he was little despite working 40hours a week)
The rule worked both ways, if he started being a bit of a bellend with his behaviour I nipped it in the bud with distraction so he didn't feel punished. It was harder work than I anticipated because of course you just have days you want to say, "fucks sake will you just stop arsing around and do as I ask", but by being snappy I was the bellend so I'd try and find ways to not, be a bellend.
Not quite the Lisa Jewell approach, but it's worked out well, I've found he's happy to discuss anything with me to, from sex, drugs, politics, music etc as where my friends kids don't open up as much to them, but it's child dependent isn't it? If You've got a kid who is a tearaway then it'll definitely not be the right approach most of the time and they'll need a routined approach.
I have found gentle parenting with distraction and lots of chatting (even when you'd give your last fiver for them to stfu) has been great for my kids. And they question everything, which I love. They don't blindly follow because I have really put the work in to teach them to be true to their own feelings which is something I needed during my own childhood, so it was really important to me.
Anyway I think the best thing about other people's experiences is learning about what works for them and seeing if you can pinch ideas to suit your own needs. I've learnt a lot from these boards and even when wires are crossed it's still good to read things, in my humble opinion 😊

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Connie2468 · 26/09/2022 09:29

constantgarden · 25/09/2022 23:37

Our house is a bit like that. I have a teen girl and younger parents sometimes ask me how bad it is! It’s great, she’s easy going, independent, funny. She likes hanging out with us. Younger kids too and just no dramas. We don’t have millions of rules and we don’t argue with them about pointless things. We do parent. We get them off screens, get them to do their homework, teach them manners and all that. It’s hard to describe but I suppose it’s a balance and erring on the side of treating them kindly and respectfully, not getting up tight about things. There literally is no shouting in our home, no one feels the need.

Isn't this just... normal parenting?

Seems like lots of posters are replying to this saying oh yes I parent like this:
We model kind and respectful behaviour!
We pick our battles!
We have clear boundaries!
We ensure they eat healthily and do their homework and get enough sleep!

Pick up any parenting book and they will tell you that's how to do it.
It isn't really permissive, let them do whatever they want and just suck up how they talk to you and trust they turn out ok parenting. Which is what the OP is about.

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LisaJ68 · 26/09/2022 09:29

Popping in to add context and clarity! The podcast was about menopause and the question was about how I dealt with the teenage daughter/menopausal mother hormonal clash, it wasn't about how I raised my children from birth. From birth I parented them quite conventionally: reward charts, naughty steps, rules, consequences, expectations etc. They are both super-feisty, strong-minded girls and the years from 0-13 were very dramatic, lots of shouting and yelling and tears. But when they came into their teenage years I took a huge step back from all of that and now the only rules are Go To School Every Day, Keep Your Phone Switched On, Keep Your Location Finder Switched On, Be Kind to Your Friends, Don't Lie to Me. Everything else I let them make their own choices, their own mistakes and learn from the natural consequences of making bad decisions. So things like staying out late, boys, stick and poke tattoos, phones in bed, not doing homework, wet towels, messy bedrooms, bad language, attitude etc are non issues. And they work it out as they go. Ie eight hours sleep feels nicer than four hours sleep, so don't stay up all night on your phone. Anyway, so far it's worked for us, but who knows how any parenting decisions work out in the long term! I don't think you can really know until they're pushing 30! I just know that our house feels happy and calm and that my girls enjoy being here and our lines of communication are wide open and healthy.

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LydiaBennetsUglyBonnet · 26/09/2022 09:31

I can’t imagine that Lisa Jewell has a perfect family with teens who never step out of line but there is something to be said about picking your battles with kids. If mine want another 10 minutes at soft play, as long as we have nowhere else to be, I let them have it. I am aware of not getting too caught up on being ‘the boss’ and needlessly imposing rules for the sake of it. My kids are pretty cool.

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LydiaBennetsUglyBonnet · 26/09/2022 09:33

Is the actual Lisa Jewell on this thread?!

OMG <fan girls all over the place> More sequels please, the Family Returns was fantastic.

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Lordofwrongness · 26/09/2022 09:35

LisaJ68 · 26/09/2022 09:29

Popping in to add context and clarity! The podcast was about menopause and the question was about how I dealt with the teenage daughter/menopausal mother hormonal clash, it wasn't about how I raised my children from birth. From birth I parented them quite conventionally: reward charts, naughty steps, rules, consequences, expectations etc. They are both super-feisty, strong-minded girls and the years from 0-13 were very dramatic, lots of shouting and yelling and tears. But when they came into their teenage years I took a huge step back from all of that and now the only rules are Go To School Every Day, Keep Your Phone Switched On, Keep Your Location Finder Switched On, Be Kind to Your Friends, Don't Lie to Me. Everything else I let them make their own choices, their own mistakes and learn from the natural consequences of making bad decisions. So things like staying out late, boys, stick and poke tattoos, phones in bed, not doing homework, wet towels, messy bedrooms, bad language, attitude etc are non issues. And they work it out as they go. Ie eight hours sleep feels nicer than four hours sleep, so don't stay up all night on your phone. Anyway, so far it's worked for us, but who knows how any parenting decisions work out in the long term! I don't think you can really know until they're pushing 30! I just know that our house feels happy and calm and that my girls enjoy being here and our lines of communication are wide open and healthy.

Thank you so much for the post. It's really helpful to have the context - as you can see, there's a lot of interest in different parenting styles!

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LucyInTheSkyWithDiamond · 26/09/2022 09:37

This reply has been withdrawn

This message has been withdrawn at the poster's request

LisaJ68 · 26/09/2022 09:40

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This message has been withdrawn at the poster's request

Hi! 👋

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LucyInTheSkyWithDiamond · 26/09/2022 09:42

Ooooooops, sorry!

Definitely didn't expect to see the real author on mumsnet! I've read a good few of your books. Not to my taste, but so many people love them, I'm sure my opinion isn't relevant. I'll ask MN to delete that ❤

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thewalrus · 26/09/2022 09:44

Can't work out how to quote, but I thought @minipie summed it up very well.

I listened to and enjoyed the podcast, and as @LisaJ68 (hi, love your books!!!) has said, it was quite a lot more nuanced - and specifically about teens - than has been described here.

I think it's an interesting approach - for me, it would mean letting go of a lot of stuff around the house and picking up after them even more than I do, because they will not do it if I don't nag them about it. And that might be worth it for my own state of mind, but I'm not sure it's the right thing for them. Or do I trust they'll get it when they're responsible for their own space anyway.

I have three teens - this kind of approach would (and does) work very well with one of them; jury is still out on the younger two. But the main issue in my house is the way the three of them interact with each other (specifically one is currently being very unpleasant to the others), and I don't feel I have a choice but to get involved in that (currently not very successfully). If I just had one kid, I think it would work brilliantly though.

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