Lazy Parent or Teaching Independence?

Originally posted on Just Playing House.

I'm a lazy parent! At least where it counts. This realization was inspired by a friend's similar confession. That may seem like a really strange thing to say, but it's true. I try not to do for my children as much as possible. That means they must step up and do for themselves.

Out of laziness, independence is born!

I stopped to think about all of the things that I stopped doing for my kids early on. The number of times that instead of helping them, I simply told them how to do it and let them go.

  • You can't reach the sink to wash your hands? Go get a step stool.
  • You're thirsty and want a drink? The dishwasher is clean. Go grab a cup and get some water.
  • You're ready for breakfast? Go ahead and make pancakes (frozen that pop into the toaster).
  • You left your favorite toy/book in the car? Go ahead out and grab it.
  • You're too afraid of the dark to go get something? Just turn on the light switch in each room as you go.
  • You fell down and got hurt? Come here and let me see it. Then, go get a band aid if you need one.

The list goes on I'm afraid. At first I felt like maybe I was being a bad parent. Then something happened that completely changed my perspective.

We had a box delivered to the house a couple of weeks ago. I had ordered some sleepers for Sienna (10 months). Melia (4) wanted to help open the box. Most parents would be a little squeamish sending their child to go grab the scissors. Not me. I sent her off to grab them (I promise she's learned how to properly carry them). On her way back she said to me, "Mom, it's important that I try everything myself first before I ask for help". Such truth in these words! As I was admiring her wisdom, she took the scissors and forcefully stabbed them into the tape on the top of the box. Not quite the action I was envisioning. She had tried, and failed. So I took the scissors from her and showed her the correct way to open a box. Maybe her next attempt will be a little less serial killer like.


I have reflected on her words quite a bit since that day. It is important to try something yourself before asking for help. Thank you Montessori!

If I've learned anything from sending my kids to a Montessori school, it's that they are capable of far more than we ever give them credit for. Sure there may be a lot of messes and some mistakes a long the way, but at the end of the day they are building self confidence. The more they can do for them self, the less stress put on me to do it all.

While I do play the role of lazy parent, that doesn't mean I ignore or neglect my children. Quite the contrary. It simply means I focus my involvement where it counts, in those teachable moments when they are trying things (especially the first couple of times). Investing up front and providing a foundation for them to "do" allows me to slack off in "doing" a bit later. We both reap the rewards. So that's my defense to lazy parenting.

How are you a lazy parent?

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