Why You Should Ruin Your Kid's Life at Least Once a Day

kid tying shoeFeel like parenting has gotten way too mushy lately? You're not the only one. I've been reading a new parenting book called Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later by Denise Schipani. It's loaded with the kind of common-sense parenting I was raised with. In fact, I think my own mom would love this book.

Her "Mean Mom Manifesto" is a list of principles just about any parent would agree with: Be consistent. Don't follow the parenting pack. Say "no" and mean it. Yes, yes, and yes! And then we get to Mean Mom Manifesto #9: "Fail Your Child, a Little Bit, Every Day."

Fail my what when how?


Yup, fail your child. Denise says that as parenting culture has become more intensive, it's become harder for us to accept the idea of failure. "The idea that sometimes, you do fail, even in little ways. And that sometimes, those failures are good for your child." Failure -- actually good for our kids. Now that's a radical idea.

Denise isn't talking about major failures, like failing to feed, clothe, or shelter your child. She's talking about not jumping in every time we see our kids struggle with something, not preventing every fall, not signing up for every single mommy-and-me music class. She's talking about not treating our kids like they're fragile.

I think this is the hardest idea for me to wrap my head around. I can say "no" like a pro. But sitting on my hands and letting my son struggle? That's a lot harder for me.

But kids need that. It's how they learn and grow. I still don't totally agree with this approach for babies, but I think it's especially valuable with preschoolers and older kids. I just wish an electrical current would zap me every time I try to help my son zip up his coat so he doesn't catch his chin. But I'm learning, too -- my job is to teach him independence.

How do you feel about "failing" your child a little bit every day?


Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

Read More >