Life... Health... Reviews...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are you a lazy parent?

I am the type of person who doesn't sit down and watch live television too often. Instead, I set my DVR to record shows that I like, watch them later and fast forward the commercials. I was doing this last week and watching the Dr. Phil show so I can't tell you exactly which one it was. What I can tell you, however, is that he said something that caused me to pause and think.

But let me tell you a little bit about the show first.

There were several different parents who were talking about the difficulties they were having with their children. One woman was talking about her trouble with getting her autistic and mentally disabled child to do the things she needed him to do now that he was almost 100 pounds. He was cognizant enough to choose not to walk or not to move when she told him to.

Photo by Jerry Avenaim for
Newsweek magazine (2001)

This mom was overwhelmed, becoming physically unable to cope and experiencing extreme fatigue, guilt and defeat. Dr. Phil offered her and her husband experts to assist them in dealing with their son and deciding if placing him in a facility, which is what the mom wanted to do, was the best choice for all involved.

The last mom featured was one who acknowledged that she had a good life, healthy children and a fabulous husband. Her problem? She just wanted to run away from it all. If I remember correctly she had six children and had began having children at a young age. She said the kids were loud, unruly, wouldn't listen and there was always something going on.

She said she couldn't cope and she felt guilty if she thought about taking some time out for herself or wanted to get away from the kids. (Sounds familiar, huh?) Well, after Dr. Phil assured her that taking a break was healthy for both her and her family he told her she was lazy. Although he didn't say it exactly like that; he did get his point across.

After he acknowledged that he knew it sounded crazy given how tired she is and how she's always doing something -- like most mothers -- he explained what he meant: He said that if kids are out of control and unfocused or into everything then it was the parent's job to provide activities and direction.

Basically the kids are running wild and tiring her out when she needs to take control of her pack. Hmmm? I thought. There are times when I am sitting at the computer trying to get some work done when my two middle kids are arguing, the baby is getting into something and I have to keep stopping to reign them back in.

There are times when I am fixing dinner and I keep having to redirect the baby from under the cabinet or from on top of a table.
Was I being lazy in not giving them a focused activity? I didn't think so. I tried to remember times when I had gotten them involved in an activity or task. Since I couldn't remember specifics I started from scratch. Over the past week or so I've been trying different things and I am still exhausted. LOL. I let the kids stay on the front stoop to blow bubbles, but have to keep stopping because they start blowing them into the house or the baby (who refuses to focus on anything longer than five minutes) tries to go out of the door.

Although I allow limited television watching I sometimes decide to let them watch a movie so I can finish working, take care of the baby, help the teenager or prepare dinner. Oftentimes before the movie is over they're jumping, running, throwing, arguing or involved in a different activity of their choosing. Like moving my couch to get a stray toy. (Imagine my thrill when they figured out how to do that.)

My conclusion? I don't think I am a lazy parent. I think there are times when kids will just be a little off the chain and not every single moment of everyday has to be focused and planned. However, they do need a lot of direction, tasks and consistency. So there's always a happy medium.

So tell me: Are you a super mom who plans your days and the kids' activities to the T, are you a little more laid back or a combination of the two?

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming... uh, posting... for a little adult talk:

My good friend Tina F. asked me what code word I used for a booty call (you'll have to read that post if you missed it!) and I don't think I really have one. I guess I should say had. When my husband and I were together I can recall saying once, "Do you wanna have a date tonight?" He would get the hint. :D
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