But some ways, I have to admit that I am a bit of a slacker. I'm not the kind of mother who believes she has to do everything for her kids, and lately I've become aware of some of the surprising benefits of slackerism. We tend to think of parenting in terms of what we do, but sometimes it's actually more about what we choose not to do. When children are infants, they are completely dependent on us and we do everything for them. But as children get older, effective parenting sometimes means hanging back to give children the chance to rise to the challenge of taking care of themselves. So I stopped packing lunches in the morning. And then I stopped putting my daughters' laundry away (I sort it into baskets and put the baskets in their rooms). And then I stopped cleaning their bedrooms.
And in every case, these amazing children of mine have risen to the challenge. I mean really! Not immediately, but over time, with a little coaching and guidance, and, most importantly, my determination not to step in and take over, they got there. No, the jobs aren't done perfectly -- effective slacker parenting means letting go of perfectionism. The bedrooms are not quite as I might clean them and the laundry, well, let's just say we have a pretty loose definition of "folded." But for a 10- and 11-year-old, these kids are pretty darn neat. And we manage it without bribes, star charts, or threats of punishment. Not bad for a slacker mom!