How Not to Raise a Brat?

Recently I followed a link from Smockity Frocks (one of my favorite blogs) to a list at The Stressed Mom about how not to raise a brat.

Here’s the list:

1. Don’t call them more than once in the morning to wake up for school. Or make them set their own alarm clock.

2. Stop doing their laundry.

3. Make them clean up behind themselves or confiscate their stuff.

4. Expect them to help get dinner on the table, and to clean up afterwards.

5. Don’t buy them a “treat” every time you go shopping, etc.

6. Teach them how to be responsible for their own school work and make them be accountable.

7. Don’t allow or reward whining by giving in.

8. As often as possible, allow natural consequences to happen. Don’t intervene. They can be some of the best teachers.

9. Teach them to be independent at an early age, and continue to let them mature into further independence.

10. While you should love your child, and let them know you are there for them as they grow, do not baby them. At age 3 or age 13. That makes for an awful 21 year old who feels entitled to everything and won’t get a job or consider moving out and being responsible for themselves.

All in all, I liked the list. But I was shocked at some of the venomous comments that were left. Here are some of the comments, and my counter-attacks. (Note: I edited some of the comments so this blog wasn’t 8 pages long. You can read the full comments

1. I know everyone will hate me but I disagree. We don’t do #1,7,8 and I don’t do #10. My sister is 17, just graduated high school, got accepted into every university she applied to, just bought her fist car with her own money, is working, is in the process of getting her own apartment, and is very independent. I just turned 16 on Monday. I have one more year of high school because I am graduating early and skipping my junior year. I have a 4.0 GPA and am in the top 10% of my class. We have both been athletes all of our lives and I think that playing sports is a big part of teaching your kids how to be responsible and independent.

My response: You’re 16. I’m not knocking 16, but you’re going to need some life experience before you weigh in on parenting issues. I’d also like to point out that it’s very possible that your 4.0 GPA while playing sports is due in large part to the fact that your parents have shouldered much of the burden of your life (according to you, in that they don’t allow natural consequences, baby you and allow you to whine until you get what you want.)

2. I agree with 3,5,7,8, 9 and 10. The reason I don’t agree with some of them is that kids should be allowed to be kids and have fun too. I agree with chores but don’t agree with going overboard and treating kids like little adults because they aren’t adults

My response: This is the line that always confuses me. “Kids should be allowed to be kids and have fun.” Believe me, no matter how many chores I give my kids, they still manage to be kids and have fun. My kids have several responsibilities each day, on top of their schoolwork. They make their beds, clean their rooms, help with laundry and dishes, vacuum, dust, tidy the common areas, and sweep the floor. Somehow they still have hours of time to fill. And yes, I have heard the dreaded, “I’m bored” cry more than once.

3. Why not just send them off to Boarding School and bring them back when they are legally adults? That way you won’t have to cook, clean up after them, educate them etc. I raised both my sons with the Happy method and both can cook, clean, sew, do laundry, and all because I included them in those activities not imposed them as chores that must be done or else. And yes, I babied them and still do and they have turned out to be very well rounded adults thank you very much.

I totally agree with simply including your kids in the chores, rather than turning your home into a prison sentence. Moms shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the over-the-top discipline bandwagon that they lose sight of how simple and natural “work” can be. Just because your 3-year-old can’t do a full load of laundry doesn’t mean they are doomed to a failed future!

 My response: These were two separate comments but the same premise. I have two things to say. First, no one is suggesting a three year old should be running the laundry room. Second, I heartily agree with the idea that you should have your children work alongside you. I’m not sure why so many people assume you must be one or the other – either a strict disciplinarian “turning your home into a prison sentence” or a “happy” mom who babies her children. In my house we do both. We work together, including them in both things that need to be done and things I love to do. But at some point, whether you want to or not, the chores must be done.

4. I think this blog should be called “The Lazy Mom.” Honestly, if you didn’t want to care for your home or kids, why did you have them? Praising your oldest for teaching her older children to look after her younger ones is ridiculous (maybe she should have used some birth control after the first so she didn’t end up with more then she could handle?) In our society children should not be responsible for looking after younger children (even briefly) that is what PARENTS and CHILD CARE PROVIDERS (the adult kind) do. Beyond teaching them how to pick up after themselves (NOT housework or chores just cleaning up their own messes) there is nothing worth reading on this blog. Its just another “Mommy is stressed out so here are some things you can pass off to someone else” blog.

I think this is for lazy parents. If you choose to have children you are choosing to take on the responsibilities of taking care of them. I think this article is absurd. Why not just demand your child be potty trained and off the bottle as soon as they’re born so you can cross that one off your list too… Or better yet why not entitle it 10 ways to pawn your responsibilities off onto your children!

My response: Wow. These two left me speechless for a moment. But only for a moment. I’ll try not to be as angry and snarky in my response as the commenters. Teaching your children to take care of themselves does not mean you no longer take care of them. They’re still learning. The parent-child relationship is a continuum. In the beginning, they are completely dependent on you. As time goes by, the responsibility shifts, little by little, to the child. Our job is to equip them to take on the responsibility that will inevitably be theirs. I don’t ask my children to do things because I can’t handle them, I ask them to do things because I recognize that they can. I don’t understand the idea that older children should never take care of younger children. Maybe the lack of that kind of training is why so many moms I talk to feel like they are incapable of raising their own kids. My children LOVE helping with the younger kids. They would often far prefer to keep the babies occupied than do their chores. One of my daughters enjoys it so much that she’s decided she wants to be a preschool teacher. Encouraging older kids to help care for younger ones develops empathy, patience and a nurturing spirit. It helps them understand that other people may have different abilities, and may need our help sometimes. It gives them a feeling of purpose and satisfaction to be in charge. Apparently this poster is also against teenaged baby-sitters, though, so her opinion may be a bit extreme. Lastly, if all we expect of our children is to pick up after themselves, but never do any housework, how will they know how to run a home when they’re out on their own? It’s the one inevitable fact of life – we will all have a house to clean someday. Our kids will have a much easier time of it if we give them the skills they’ll need.

5. My babies are 1 and 2… both help me wash dishes, clean tables, help me take clothes out of the dryer into baskets and even try to fold, they pick up toys, basically they are involved in everything I do around the house… I do not force them too, nor do I expect them to, they are just babies… But these are things I do on a daily basis, its apart of their normal day, just as well as play time and nap time, WE CLEAN EVERYDAY. I am stern when I discipline, but when they fall down and cry I’m the first to come running, they depend on me to be comforting and they expect kisses on all their ouchies… Do I think this is gonna mess them up?? Absolutely not. I do not agree with a lot of this only because children learn by example, if they are used to doing something every day because you do it, they will do it. Mimicking is a natural human instinct. Its not as much enforcing rules, and refraining from ‘babying’, or passing off your motherly duties to children, its setting an example. I agree with Kat, this should be called “The Lazy Mom.”

My response: Again, yes, we should set an example and work with our kids. Babying them means consistently doing for them what they could do themselves, not ignoring them when they are hurt. I am fully responsible for my children’s emotional needs. I am only partly responsible for their physical needs – that’s the part that becomes their job. Also, your kids are babies. When they’re ten they’re not going to be so excited about doing what mommy does. Trust me.

We all want to raise great kids. The actual raising part can be a real challenge. It takes balance, perspective and a long-term vision of what kind of people we hope our kids will be when they’re adults. We won’t all agree on how it’s done, but I hope articles like this open us up to new ideas – without the crazy, judgmental comments.

What say you?


3 thoughts on “How Not to Raise a Brat?

  1. I agree with you, Brieana! We are raising our daughter to be a contributing member of society by requiring her to help with household responsibilities. And we don’t want her living in our basement when she’s an adult. Especially if she’s married! I pray her future spouse’s parents are raising their son to do chores and take responsibility for his actions, also. I find her attitude is much better when we work together cleaning the house. She learns how to do it the right way (ha!) and she doesn’t feel like she’s my servant girl.

  2. I say BRAVO! I was raised in a home that did not do chores on a regular basis. Only when the mess was so out of control would my mother lose it and demand all life come to a halt for a day or two until the house was ship shape. The problem…I only learned to clean when the house is a disaster. I have no internal mechanism that helps me prioritize housekeeping. My son is nine and he NEEDS chores because otherwise he begins to think he is entitled to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He calls me a mean mom regularly these days and its okay with me because what a nine-year-old counts as mean is not getting his way or not getting dessert!

  3. Mothers are varied and complicated. Some believe they are right and everyone else wrong. i personally think we all have different ways. We all do things differently. In life I like to be with like minded parents. This is why I tend to read blogs with similar parenting ethos to myself otherwise of course your going to disagree. Personally I’m rather laid back, to say the least! Fast forward twenty years, hopefully all methods produced great adults!

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