Idle parenting means happy childrenPosted: September 8, 2009
Cancel all clubs, ditch the after-school activities and leave those kids alone, urges Tom Hodgkinson. The whole article from the Telegraph UK can be read here
“An unhealthy dose of the work ethic is threatening to wreck childhood. Under a tyrannical work-obsessed government, years that should be devoted to play and joyful learning are being stifled by targets and tests. Leisure time is being invaded by the commercial and escapist virtual worlds of the computer.
Pushy parents don’t help by making childhood a stress-filled time of striving and competing.
Our children’s days are crammed full with activities: ballet, judo, tennis, piano, sport, art projects. At home they are entertained by giant screens and computers. In between, they are strapped into cars and made to listen to educational tapes. Ambitious mothers force hours of homework on bewildered 10-year-olds, hanging the abstract fear of “future employers” over their heads.
The welcome discovery that a lazy parent is a good parent took root when I read the following passage from a DH Lawrence essay, Education of the People, published in 1918: “How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning.”
To the busy modern parent, this idea seems counter-intuitive. Aren’t we always told to do more, not less? All parents have a nagging sense that somehow we are doing it all wrong and that more work needs to be done. But the problem is that we put too much work into parenting, not too little. By interfering a lot, we are not letting children grow up and learn themselves. The child who has been overprotected will not know how to look after himself. We are too much in children’s faces. We need to retreat. Let them live.”