What is Green Zone Parenting?
Green Zone Parenting (GZP) is a parenting strategy that involves applying of small amounts of neglect and verbal abuse to your everyday kid interaction in an effort to counterbalance the helicopter mom mentality that is slowly destroying this generation of kids.
So You’re an Advocate of Harming Our Kids?
Not at all! Most parents lean too far toward the “helicopter mom” overprotective side of parenting (see diagram above). They hover and smother. They filter every word and action so their kids end up being raised by a strange, vanilla-flavored mom-bot that has no decision-making capacity beyond what she’s read in a book or consciously accepted as ‘proper’ mommy behavior (usually by observing other helicopter moms). In other words, our kids are being robbed of the richness and authenticity of having a fallible human being as a parent model. The easiest way to combat this is by being ourselves. Sometimes that means we’re going to slip up and drop an f-bomb in our kids’ presence (this is not a license to swear like a truck driver – it just happens on occasion). It also means that we have right to show some true, raw emotion when something goes wrong. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, be sad. You don’t always have to plaster a smile on your face when your kids get home from school and suggest a healthy snack and a craft.
Is yelling and spanking OK?
Yes to both – in moderation – and never as a method to frighten your kids or harm their little psyches (and never to physically injure them)…if you’re feeling it and you believe it will help constructively solve a problem, go for it (remember: you hate the behavior, not them). The thing is, being a Green Zone Parent is not necessarily planned and there are no absolutes. That’s the whole point. What I’m suggesting is that if we drop the Perfect Parent Act and allow our true selves to guide our parenting, sometimes we will lose our cool and yell (believe me, if you have to correct your kids’ behavior more than three times, you have a right to yell a little). That doesn’t mean you should run around screaming like a lunatic, but if you’re frustrated…guess what? That little ankle biter needs to hear about it.
Why do you think it’s OK to neglect our kids?
It depends on your definition of ‘neglect’. In this context, neglect represents advocating a certain amount of independence and accountability in our kids, which by today’s standards constitutes neglect. For example, if my middle schooler forgets her math book in her locker I will take her to get it…the first time. I will tell her that if she forgets it again, she’s on her own. When she forgets it the next time (and she will), I remind her that it’s not my problem. After 10 minutes of “But, mom…“, my kid finally settles down and realizes she needs to solve the problem herself. She calls all her classmates, looks online for the textbook pages, worries a bit, then ultimately figures it out. It was a tough half hour for her – she was stressed and upset, but after some work and creative thinking, she figured it out. Welcome to life.
Why is Oneburnedoutmama an advocate?
I believe today’s parents are way too soft on their kids. Worse, they interact with them like Sesame Street characters. The bubbly, fake cheerleader-type baby talk and simplified (and frankly patronizing) dialogue is insulting to their intelligence and ignores the fact that they have the capacity for more mature conversation. We finish their thoughts for them, soothe their every little struggle and feel it is our responsibility for them to go through their entire childhood pain-free. That’s just not healthy. Children need to face a certain amount of adversity in order to prepare themselves for life. I see too many examples of kids with no boundaries, and there is almost always a well-meaning but clueless helicopter mom flitting and fussing around behind them in an attempt to sanitize their environment into some kind of bizarre Kid Utopia. I can only guess why that is – usually a combination of wanting to be a ‘fun’ mom (thus avoiding discipline) and an erroneous belief that our kids’ childhoods should look something like what we see in a Hallmark Movie Special.
What is the 18 Year Rule?
The 18 Year Rule states that the period of time during which a child is under our control is the shortest phase of his/her life. The majority of your child’s life is spent as an adult. Think about it: they have 18 years to figure out how to attack life, then they’re on their own (I hope…please don’t follow them to college). Adulthood begins in college – when they’re 18 years old – and continues until they take their last breath. That’s another 70+ years of co-existing with other human beings, when they will have to figure out how to make a living and – most importantly – define happiness for themselves so they can achieve a high quality of life.
Does it make sense, then, to shelter our kids from pain, adversity or temptation while they’re home with us at the very time in their lives when our guidance will have the most impact? Does it make sense to artificially direct their likes and dislikes by pushing them to play sports or take AP classes whether they want to or not? Do we have a right to define what ‘happy’ means to them? Of course not! But that’s what helicopter moms (a.k.a. over-involved moms) do every day. They are human shields, deflecting all hardship, and they micromanage every aspect of their kids’ lives to affect the outcome they (the moms) want. The kid ends up becoming a product of their parents’ dreams, not their own. Worse, they have no coping skills when failure and hardship inevitably knock on the door. It is the most ridiculous parenting strategy I have ever witnessed. The problem? It’s the norm and I don’t think most parents would agree with my assessment. Hello, denial.
How do I become a Green Zone Parent?
Surround yourself with like-minded people. Start a revolution in your mom circle. Don’t let your kids rule the house. Read my blog every day and share your struggles by commenting and asking questions. With a little humor and a paradigm shift in the way we view raising kids, we can start to solve this epidemic and become more authentic parents. Our kids will thank us for it (someday).
Tell Me: How will you infuse Green Zone Parenting into your kids’ lives?