Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Guilty Parenting


This week's 100 Word Challenge at Julia's Place requires us to incorporate the words: I'm exhausted. Shut the door behind you... Easy peasy. I say them every day!

I have begun to neglect my children. For every two hours of their company, I crave 20 minutes of silence. When a storybook is finished or Scrabble lost and won, I scuttle to the bedroom to breathe freer air. There sits my laptop, a portal onto a virtual world which seems, after a day of juvenile bickering, more real than reality. When my twosome erupts after me I banish them: ‘I’m exhausted. Shut the door behind you!’

Lately my craving has coincided with bathtime and, miraculously, the children have learned to organise themselves. I’ve muffled my guilt for I’ve realised that careful neglect is favour; it hastens priceless independence. 



39 comments:

  1. Oh this is such fun! I just know there will be lots of bloggers & other surfers who know exactly what you mean!!

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    1. Do you think? Everyone else I know is far more patient than I am.

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    2. I know exactly what you mean. I used to be patient, but middle age has arrived ...

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  2. Hee hee - I know *exactly* what you mean....and I don't even have children! Delightfully well-observed!

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  3. Oh yes I can remember those days!

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    1. I fear, though, that when 'thse days' are over for me and the moments of liberty stretch into hours, I shall miss the clamorous claims on my attention. Perhaps I should be making the most instead of fleeing!

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  4. There was no laptop in those days, but somehow they learned to bath themselves :)

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    1. The problem was me, not them. I was in the habit of bathing them and would probably have continued on auto pilot until they were 32 if the discovery of Twitter and Blogger hadn't precipitated change!

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  5. Benign neglect has a wholly undeserved bad name in most of the parenting manuals these days. But, as you say, there lies the road to independence. As well as having a bit more energy and enthusiasm for the next game of hide and seek or snakes and ladders. (You're lucky - you get to play Scrabble!)

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    1. It is usually Snakes & Ladders! But that took me over my word count!!

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  6. Anna,
    I had *exactly* the same thought for my own entry, this week! It's good to know that I'm not the only one who wants just a bit of silence now and again...and who feels a little bit guilty about it, as well.

    Nicely done!

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    1. Well thanks. I'm equally glad to know I'm in good company.

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  7. I always feel in such a double mind with this .... when I am playing or doing something with my little one I always yearn for me time, and the next moment of respite I can get .... but ha ha as you so astutely observe and as the above comment suggests benign neglect isn't such a bad thing!

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    1. It seems the idea that we should be with our children entertaining them all day is a new one. 1940s housewives put them in a playpen and got on with it and, when they were older, turfed them out to play in the street or fields until tea time. Now we feel guilty if we're not engaiging them in educational play every waking hour.

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  8. I have been known to clean the house from top to bottom when the kids have had a ".long" bathtime.....

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    1. What an example to set! If I did that instead of idling on a a laptop my home wouldn't be the dust heap it currently is.

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  9. I hid behind a sofa cushion from my enthusiastic 5 year old this afternoon and threatened to lock myself in the bathroom unless she stopped asking for things. I have been known to plead to my husband,'Why won't they just leave me alone?'. I think being able to spend time playing alone using their imagination is very valuable for children, so I'm training mine to do just that. Loved the post x

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    1. Thank you. I used guiltily to leave my then 12-month old playing with a basket of toys for 20 mins while I lay on a nearby sofa reading Gardeners World. She has grown up with remarkable inner resources for entertaining herself and never protests boredom which I'm beginning to attribute to my early 'neglect'.

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  10. A really good portrayal of those brief moments of respite. Very well put across.

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  11. You are such a wise lady. Brilliant post, as ever.

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    1. Oh, I'd sooner have glamour than wisdom!! And you have both!

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  12. This one stepped on my toes a bit. Guilty as charged! This piece was terrific!

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    1. Thank you. It's beginning to seem that we're all guilty!

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  13. Perfect. Was there last night...except only one of my three kids can put herself to bed these days. The other two just want to hang with mom. =)

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    1. I suppose we'll miss it when they lose the urge to cling!

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  14. I so know what you mean. I have added guilt because DD is an only child - I feel that I need to compensate for her not having siblings to play with.

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    1. I can understand that. Although my pair tend to amuse themselves separately (when their not bickering together) so she might not be missing out quite as much as you fear.

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  15. Just to clarify - I feel I need to compensate, I don't actually do it though.

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  16. When I stayed home (for nine and a half years) I would get simply saturated with their touch and their need for direction and connection that I began to take night classes and later worked an overnight job just to get that distance! ...heard a speaker this week talking about his parents telling them to "go play" and they would be gone from mid morning til the street lights came on except to find someone's house where they would eat meals or a snacks...if they never see us being independent, how can they learn independence?
    Excellent writing...obviously you hit a nerve with many of us! :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting. Maybe we were all too ashamed to admit this need, but it seems it's a perfectly natural and common one! Funnily enough ever since posting it I've made a point of not 'neglecting' my children. Won't last!

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  17. The hardest part of raising children is knowing when to let them make their own mistakes so that they can learn. Allowing them to become secure,independent and thoughtful people does take a little 'ignoring the children time' so don't feel guilty you're doing them a favour.

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    1. Wise words. But I always feel guilty. About everything. Heck, I even blame myself for the double-dip recession. If only I'd spent more on Boden wear!

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    2. A mothers guilt arrives at exactly the same time as she gives birth so there's nothing you can really do about it. You just have to trust your instincts which are a bigger and better part of you. I've never even looked at Boden clothes so now I feel really bad!

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  18. Amongst my friends, it is known as raising a child through "beneficent neglect". I've encouraged him to be his own person, and to understand that I am my own person as well - I love being his mother, but I also have my own name. He's been through so much, and is truly a "child of the village". We've all allowed him to make his own mistakes, to grow through them, to express himself, to always have manners and politeness, even to those he doesn't like, and to be proud of himself and those around him. He is an amazing creation.

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    1. Sounds as though you too should be proud. I like 'beneficent neglect'. Shall practise it more often!

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  19. One hundred perfectly chosen words.

    At school, we used to have to do a "precis" occasionally (rhymes with Tracey), reducing a chunk of text to a smaller, better crafted one. This reads like the very finest example of that.

    It is odd how the virtual world is so very real, isn't it?

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    1. And that was a perfectly crafted compliment. Thank you! And yes, your last point is worryingly true...

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