The Detached Parenting Movement (trademark pending) was spontaneously founded over a decade ago in St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital at the time of birth of my first child. And my belief in it has grown ever since. At the time of its inception I did not realize I was embarking on a life-long movement, but as I raised my child with a practical, common sense approach that seemed a fairly reasonable way of going about things, I discovered I was an anomaly.
Created out of the belief that parenting is not, nor ever should be, a competitive sport, the Detached Parenting Movement (DPM) sought to promote a more sane, sustainable and healthier parenting alternative for rational people.
But mine was a lonely little movement. Coming into practice just as the helicopter parenting model soared to new heights and swept the nation to even greater levels of hysteria, DPM was largely overlooked. Still, the movement persevered, its dedicated membership (me) determined to keep the cause alive.
I began the movement armed with neither a PhD nor any degrees in child psychology but with something more powerful: A strong conviction and an innate inability to join the rapidly swelling ranks of the helicopter parenting elite.
Following in the footsteps of the Mother of common sense mothering, founder of Free Range Kids and our savior, Lenore Skenazy, DPM sought to build on Skenazy’s notion, the membership convinced parents could do more (or less) depending on how you looked at it.
While Skenazy sought to liberate kids from their sentences of eternal house arrest, suggesting they cast aside their ubiquitous, isolating, lobotomizing electronic devices in favor of actual interactions with other humans in real world settings also known as play, DPM calls for more inaction to be taken on the part of the parents. In short, parents need to be more uninvolved.
DPM acknowledges Skenazy’s concept of free ranging kids may, at first, be scary. How in God’s name can parents possibly allow their children outside? In broad daylight? To play? Allowing children to roam free in the open green pastures of their manicured suburban subdivisions or neighborhood city sidewalks smacks of sheer lunacy. Playing in the yard of the home to which the parents moved upon having children so the children would have yard in which to play was much too dangerous. Predators abound. Behind every trimmed tree and spirally sculpted shrub, criminals waited for the instant a parent/neighbor/crossing guard/babysitter momentarily cast their gaze aside to snatch kids right from under their noses. Children must be kept safe – inside. Imagination, creativity and independent thought will just have to be sacrificed for the child’s own good.
At DPM we (I) understand these concerns, but we (I) don’t see Attachment Parenting as the answer. Using historical evidence of demonstrated effectiveness established over millennia of child rearing as our guide, Detached Parenting believes in the benefits of the absent parent. DPM acts as a refreshing counterbalance to the over-protective, over-parenting, over-wrought, overwhelmed and over-the-top Attachment Parenting model. Detached Parenting, simply put, understands the parenting wheel has already been invented. No need to reinvent.
Recent scientific studies conducted by me back up these historical findings and goes even further. They posit Detached Parenting is the absolute best way to parent. With my own children as blind subjects, the theory has been tested, and we now have living proof it works. By following the Detached Parenting model and allowing kids to freely explore, problem-solve, negotiate, judge, reason, establish rules and compromise without parental intervention we can produce strong, independent, imaginative, creative, self-sufficient, well-adjusted, capable, thinking people.
Gone (soon we/I hope) are the days of the finely-tuned playdate arranged by parents and orchestrated with parent-planned activities to ensure every moment of the fun “play” time with peers is occupied. Gone (soon we/I hope) are the hovering parents to intervene the moment children tire of the inflatable bouncy house rented precisely for the occasion or grow bored of creating decoupage trinket boxes of pressed flowers the host-mother painstakingly prepared for weeks in advance. Gone (soon we/I hope) are the hours spent by parents at little league practices/games followed by soccer practices/games followed by basketball practices/games followed by football practices/games follow by piano lessons/performances followed by dance class/recitals followed by gymnastics followed by voice lessons followed by acting classes, all to keep little Johnny and Jane busy because they don’t know what to do with themselves on their own.
The evidence is clear, my friends. We need to detach. We need to allow our children to develop a brain. We need to let them learn to play again. Because play is how kids learn.
So join me in this fight won’t you? Together we can save the children.
A vote for me is a vote for the Detached Parenting Movement. Please show your support by clicking on circle and voting for my blog – currently in a dead heat at #66. (Moving up. Woo hoo!)
This post initially appeared as a guest post on my good friend Julie’s blog, Life According to Julie. But as founder of the movement I felt it only proper to include the history, philosophy and mission of the movement here, at its original birth place, as well.