Facebook Pixel

Parenting for Convenience or Nurturing

By June 30, 2008 - 9:27pm
Rate This

I've had the opportunity, in recent weeks, to witness a variety of different parenting styles by watching the interactions between parents and children of various friends and family members. And the thought suddenly occurred to me:

As parents, what is our primary motivation during each parenting interlude? Do we parent, ie. guide, teach and nurture our children so that their behavior and actions are convenient for us, or do we parent our children so that their behavior and actions are good for them?

Most of us, I assume, would prefer to answer the question with the latter statement. But is that how we parent on a routine basis?

And if we parent more in the above, former mentioned style, how is that helping us and our children in the long run? What lessons does the "parenting for convenience" approach ultimately teach our children?

What are your thoughts???

Add a Comment6 Comments

HERWriter Guide

I see a little more what you mean, Kimmelin.

I do actually know parents who have removed day time naps altogether, for very young children, so that they drop into bed right after dinner, exhausted. This gives them the entire evening to themselves. While I know an evening to oneself would be lovely - that's the kind of thing one gives up when one has young children. When a parent is not prepared to give that up, that's parenting for convenience.

And while I do not wish to criticize anyone's parenting styles (as always, I am trying to walk in the parents shoes, while also remembering what it's like to be a child) but I know parents who have summers off from work and continue to bring their children into all-day day care so that they have the week day to themselves - all summer long. Every parent deserves a break, right? I'm all for that. I don't get them myself so if anyone has family or a facility that could give them a break, then hop on it! But full-time day care when parents are home and not working is something I find very odd.

I have an issue with my kids that maybe you could help me with. With regard to one of my kids doing something they know not to do. It could be taking a toy from another child, picking up knick knacks in a home that is not theirs, going into rooms in someone's home that they are not supposed to, walking on someone's flower bed, attempting to play with someone's cell phone, laptop etc. That kind of thing. Nothing major, typical kid stuff. I don't dismiss my childrens' naughty behavior as 'kids will be kids'. I discipline them and don't mean in a punitive way (unfortunately the word 'discipline' has become a dirty word and it's not) but how can I do it quickly, without embarrassing my children? I don't want to embarrass them or single them out, but taking them away to talk quietly is not an option as I have 3 toddlers and have to watch the other two. I know how to let my little one know that what they have done is not acceptable and redirect them in a positive way - my problem is that one in particular gets terribly embarrassed at even the slightest redirection, no matter how gentle or positive. But at the same time, I can't let it go and save the issue until later. She is 3, she needs immediate redirection. Waiting for an hour is like whistling in the wind! Whatever I am doing, I am not doing very well because she buries her head in my chest and cries from embarrassment and I feel awful for her. Yet she has done something she knows not to do.

Any ideas on that?

July 9, 2008 - 12:31pm
EmpowHER Guest

Wow, ladies! What great ideas, feedback, suggestions, etc.

Meant to be much less of a lecture or tooting of my own horn, my initial post was intended as a jumping off point, which I think you all caught onto nicely. A couple of the incidents I had recently witnessed to pique my curiosity about this topic were:
1)forcing a nine month old child out of two naps a day down to one per day so that the mother could have more time in her own schedule to run errands, etc.
2) demanding an extremely detailed level of cleaning up by parents of five, and 2-year-old children to ease their own discomfort with a messy house much more so than to teach the lesson of being helpful contributors to the cleanliness of the family household, etc. (For example, when the five-year-old boy put his boxed up puzzle away in the appropriate toy bin, he was scolded for placing the box upside down, rather than right side up.)

3) Sending children to bed early so mom and dad can relax in the evening, not because the children were tired, cranky or had a busy day ahead of them.

The truth of the matter is, as Alison so aptly put it, we all have times when parenting for convenience is what needs to be done. We MUST pick our battles for everyone's well being, and sometimes the convenience factor falls into that category. But, just as we learn to pick which battles are worth the effort, and which simply are not, I imagine we must also choose when the convenience factor translates into "teaching our children for the good of the whole" vs. "training our children for our sole benefit." When is it appropriate to bow to the route of least resistance (convenience) and when must we make the extra effort and make parental choices that, while less convenient for ourselves, are more beneficial for our children?

An example of this last statement might be a scenario during which we discover our child has, in some way, "wronged" another child. We could take the more convenient route and simply talk with our child, demand he apologize to the other child in short order, etc. Or perhaps we could choose to go the extra mile and accompany our child during the apology, or proactively call the other child's parent, explain the situation, and assure him/her that our child will take appropriate actions the next day to rectify the situation.

As I re-read the comments on this post, and reflect on my own parenting journey, I realize this is a tremendously grey-area topic. But I know, as a mom and a childbirth/parenting educator, I am always looking for ways to re-evaluate how I do things...and places and scenarios during which I can do better.

Thanks for your comments, ladies! I look forward to reading more!

Kimmelin Hull
author of: A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood

July 7, 2008 - 9:48pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Kimmelin

Great questions and thoughts to ponder!

I have yet to meet a parent who has never once parented for convenience! Like all relationships including romantic, professional, familial or friendship, it's human to sometimes act the way you do because it's easier, makes fewer waves or because your just too dang exhausted to take a moral high ground.

I have certainly parented for convenience at times but I do hope I parent to nurture more often than not.

There are (unfortunately) exceptions out there everywhere but most people I know are parenting the best way they know how, with the circumstances they have. I believe that to be the case with my husband and I. We make mistakes and probably always will (including occasional parenting for convenience) but as my husband says "...perfection will be attained at another time..." !

I honestly think that solely parenting for nurture is one of those things we strive for, but will never achieve. Like the perfect marriage, perfect health or having the perfect figure! And it takes actually becoming a parent to realize that. I have always said that the last day I knew all about parenting was the day before my first child was born.

July 2, 2008 - 12:59pm

Very interesting question. I would like to believe that my parenting was geared more toward teaching my children to be good people, rather than trying to manipulate them into fitting my pictures of perfection. I want kids to be kids, and that can be achieved without being uncontrollable brats. I have a habit of asking a lot of questions, and I did that with my kids:

why do you think this...
what do you think would...
what is the right thing...
what happens if...
how do you feel when...
is there any reason why...

I would get the biggest kick out of hearing my little guys turn tables on their peers with the same questions, hehe. I taught them to baffle, not battle.

Instead of "no," I would say, "wait!" I learned a trick from my parents: take the curiosity out of things by making them accessible (teaching them respect for your property, nice things, etc,).

I don't think I would see Alison as being at all lazy. I agree that consistency is very important in how you communicate with your kids.

If you want chaotic kids, raise them in a state of your own confusion.

July 1, 2008 - 6:24pm

This is an interesting question, and I need to put more thought into it...I'll respond again, but my "first gut" reaction is that I do a little of both, honestly! It largely depends on the sitation, but I agree with Kristin: when I am telling my toddler "no" or redirecting his behavior, it is sometimes for me, but that translates often into "benefiting/teaching societal expectations" and "etiquette" that he is too young to understand (or care) about. Other times, I do "parent" with the very conscious decision to teach him something that will help nurture his "self" (can't think of an example right now...)

The other thought I had was on parents "picking battles". I do witness parents at the playground, during playdates, or in a store, who aren't consistent with their kids, perhaps parenting out of convenience in that moment...but we do not know what has happened throughout the rest of the day! I will sometimes pretend I didn't see something my toddler has done, because most of the time it is to get my attention. Other parents who see this interaction may think I am being lazy, but I'm being lazy with a higher purpose! :-)

I would be interested in hearing some specific examples about what you witnessed: that would be an interesting conversation!

July 1, 2008 - 3:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi, Kimmelin!

I've not thought of the parenting for convenience approach before ... you bring up some interesting concepts here. I guess I'd like to think that if I were parenting so that my kids' behavior/actions are good for me, it's with the expectation that it's good for the greater society as well. So for instance if my 7-yr-old is constantly interrupting me while I'm on the phone, of course I'd selfishly like her to stop so that I can focus on my phone conversation, but I also need to teach her to be patient and not interrupt other people.

I'd be really interested to hear what brought this up. What specific parenting interaction did you see that made you think of the concept of parenting for convenience? Could it be translated into parenting for a greater good as well?

Great question,

June 30, 2008 - 9:44pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.


Get Email Updates

Diets Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!