Is ‘neglect’ a good parenting skill?

Do you ever see or hear something that really ‘clicks’ with your ideals of parenting?  This happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Desperate Housewives.  If you’re not a fan don’t run away as it’ll still make sense.

Gabby was deemed a bad parent by the neighbourhood mums after one of their kids got hurt in her care when the girls decided to slide down the stairs in a suitcase, which sound like great fun to me!  To get back in the good books she threw a lavish birthday party for her daughter involving a monkey and a clown.  Unfortunately, the monkey went berserk and resulted in a tranquilizer gun and the clown being taken away on a stretcher.

That night, like we all do, she was beating herself up about being a bad mum and this is the conversation she had with her husband, Carlos.

Carlos: Stop beating yourself up, it wasn’t that bad!

Gabby: Carlos, the monkey almost killed the clown, that’s the definition of a bad children’s party!

Gabby: Ana’s right I am a terrible mum.

Carlos: Look, I am no expert on raising children.  All I know is when all the other children ran screaming to their mums, Juanita jumped into the bouncy castle and zipped it up and her sister played dead.  Those girls are smart…which they wouldn’t be if you’d been hovering all over them their whole lives.  They’ve learned to be independent and resourceful and that is thanks to your negligence.

I don’t think I need to add anything as I think this says it all! :-)

Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

41 thoughts on “Is ‘neglect’ a good parenting skill?”

  1. Neglect is probably the wrong word but hopefully it made sense. I have to say I don't do it all the time either and we are going through quite a needy stage! ;-)

    1. I strongly believe in “benign neglect” but get lots of odd responses from other parents. It seems to me that here (in the UK), the main middle class fear seems to be not so much the kids coming to any harm but the fear of what other people will say. Well I say stuff that!

      I raise my children according to my mother’s philosophy: a mother’s role is to train her children for independence, not to act as their personal slave. I am a terrible mother in many people’s eyes: I forget to feed them, forget to send them to bed at the right time, don’t tidy up after them etc etc. But everyone, without exception, comments on how independent and self reliant my boys are. I often say I could leave Bob (11) in France and tell him to make his way home – and he would.

      So whatever my failings as a mother, I am very proud of my children. More parents need to be less afraid. It IS hard, especially at first, but if we teach our children to think and not expect someone else to do it for them, they really benefit.

  2. I know exactly what you mean! when I saw this … whenever it was, I just thought “Yep!! So damn right! And yet I get moaned at for not mollycoddling my lil guy” x

  3. You are right – we definitely molly-coddle our children too much these days (cue long rant about “in my day we played outside for hours without our parents knowing where we were” etc etc). Still, I suppose stranger danger, the increasing traffic all play their part. I am currently trying to take your advice and neglect my children, but sadly have one hanging on the back of my chair as I type, therefore this will not make any sense and I had better leave it at that….!

  4. I get what you are saying here. Perhaps you could put neglect in quotes. I'm definitely a neglectful mum in the Gaby sense! I love my kids but it's important for them to be able to “get on with it”. Because hey I need to be able to get on with it too. And if you're always hovering well life is just not your own.

  5. I absolutely agree. When I was a kid growing up in Fiji we were friends with a family with six kids. Mrs K had the right idea – 'kids need to eat a little dirt'. She wasn't unkind to her kids at all, just a little outnumbered. I've always believed she had the right idea. I noticed a tendency over here (in the civilised world!) to really over-parent kids, shepherd them everywhere etc. Back in the 'colonies' I think they do get a little more dirt..maybe because it's safer?

  6. I refused to have a stairgate when we had children. I figured I was more likely to hurt myself tripping over it than they were by falling down a few stairs a couple of times and learning balance. It worked – they never fell more than a few stairs and as far as I can recall only did it once.
    Thing is when we had other toddlers around who were used to stairgates, we had to erect a barrier to stop them getting near our stairs but that was never a problem when we visited other houses. We're not silly but we let our children learn their own limits and as a result I think they're stronger and more sensible children.
    Who can walk up and down stairs.

  7. Mine are free range. I like to think of it as hands off unless needed when I swoop down like the proverbial mother hen and clucky cluck cluck to my heart's content. I haven't neglected them any more than you have ('encouraging independence' rather than 'neglect' perhaps?) and they seem to be turning out alright!

  8. Funnyyou say that….I'm Canadian…amongst parents I am considered to be fairly chilled on the verge of reckless…but when I go home (Canada) they all laugh at me for being overprotective! It's a whole different world. I really want madame to grow up like I did!

  9. with 5 kids aged 22-11 these are the following related incidents:
    1 broken nose (from a fight) 1 burn (unattended iron) 1 infection (from picking scabs) 1 helicopter trip (on the rugby pitch) 1 black eye (from a fight) & 1 fractured skull (didn't take high chair on visit) and that is all.

  10. agreed! Let them get on with it and enjoy themselves, learn stuff like jumping off the back of the sofa hurts, rather than standing over them issuing instructions and protection the whole time.

  11. Doing my best to be free range…only fall down when I get pressure and looks from the other mums! Need to learn to ignore it. Thick skin required.

  12. I loved this episode. Carlos had is bob on I think – Though I can understand why some would get their feathers ruffled by the term ‘neglect’ I think the context and meaning here is understood…. I know I was definately not mollycoddled growing up and more ‘neglected’ and I know that’s definately the type of parenting I will be aiming for.

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