By Kate Morrison
From the April 2015 Issue of Funny Times
I have been lucky enough to raise my children in middle class comfort and have taken advantage of the many opportunities to expose and educate them. Now, 12 years into this endeavor, I realize I’ve made a giant mistake. And with all the recent attention on “Helicopter Parents,” I have decided, in the interest of my children, to neglect them.
Furthermore, I realize it is my duty to package this concept up and take it to my fellow parental compatriots. Oh the stories I could tell of what it’s like on the front line in the war for greatness and recognition, ease and perfection for my children.
I volunteered at the concession stand during my kids’ swim meets this past summer and witnessed a parade of parents overseeing their prodigies in the procurement of popsicles. It usually went like this: “Do you want a red one or a blue one …” “Oh, let’s not take that one, it’s broken …” “Better yet, how about a ring pop instead?” “Can we see the ring pops?”
I’d hand over the bucket; the mom would sort the pops out on the counter, inspecting them all and choosing two. She’d count out the money, give it to her child and then make a production of letting the child choose between the pre-approved pops and handing me the pre-counted money. The prodigy was then prodded to speak: “Thank you,” they’d repeat, to me or their mother – I was never sure.
Only one little girl came to the stand unaccompanied. I knew she was down there when I saw the dollar bill rise up over the counter like Lady Liberty’s torch. She picked out a cherry popsicle all by herself, counted her three quarters change and left happy and proud. All others were accompanied by their mergers and acquisitions teams.
At back-to-school night, a parent actually asked, “How much of my son’s homework should I be doing?” I laughed out loud; I thought she was kidding. You could have heard a pin drop as my son’s fourth grade teacher responded to the rapt audience that, other than providing the time and space, the homework was actually the child’s to do.
I’ve had at least five conversations with teary mothers in the school parking lot regarding their child’s unrecognized genius and lack of proper placement in the education system. I like to shock them out of their hysteria by telling them that I’m pretty sure my boys are headed on to college … or rehab, wherever their journey takes them, regardless of their second grade teacher. I’m tempted to start a mediocre club at my son’s school for the five non-gifted kids.
I could go on – and what do we have to show for it? A bunch of entitled, self-inflated, materialistic, highly-dependent kids – kids who will never leave the nest because they will never be able to afford cable on their own.
Those of us in these shoes need to immediately begin neglecting our children. Enter Conscious Neglect: A New Parenting Paradigm For Raising Successful Children.
I envision a book deal, speaking engagements around the country, perhaps even starting a network of “Over-Parenters” or a support group called “Over-Parenters Anonymous.” There could even be a nationwide program that connects “Over-Parenters” to real societal needs. Perhaps some good could come from our trend of over-parenting over-privileged children into complete non-functionality.
My new program, Conscious Neglect, is the perfect solution. It’s easy. Just ask: “Can or should my child be able to do this for themselves?” And if the answer even hovers near yes, let them. In addition to neglecting to do for your children the things they should do for themselves, neglect the following:
Neglect to interfere with your child’s consequences; neglect to do their work for them; neglect to make their choices for them; neglect to tell them the lesson they just learned; neglect to argue on their behalf with their teachers, coaches, other kids, or other parents; neglect to switch their school, classroom, coach, or teacher every time a problem arises; and neglect all homework, science fair projects and papers.
The slogan will be: “Just DON’T Do It.”
For those who have a very difficult time with it, we could have electronic collars with tags that could be attached to virtually anything, like my son’s shoes. I would receive increasing electrical impulses as I got closer to the shoes.
I realized the other day that my 12-year-old has six more years in my home before he leaves, hopefully for college. He will need to be able to get himself out of bed, feed and dress himself, get to class, do his homework, earn money, count change, make good spending decisions, make good life decisions and yes, perhaps even be able to climb a fence to avoid calling Mom from the office of the campus police.
A call, mind you, I won’t be home to get. I’ll be off spending the gobs of money I’m going to make teaching parents how to get a modicum of common sense.