Is non-parenting the new parenting?

My friend with two children came over yesterday. She is a very strict parent – big on boundaries, discipline and routine so she was pretty shocked to see how I am raising my third child and how he just wanders around doing his own thing.

She actually asked me if he was a Social Experiment. It was brilliant.

Okay, so she was joking but part of her meant it and I loved it.

It was the funniest thing I’d heard in ages.

Anyway, the truth is YES.


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My toddler has been a kind of personal social experiment because he is my third child and anyone with more than two children will tell you that family life gets rather messy the more kids you add. Especially if the ratio of number of kids outweighs that of hands.

And what you do get is Third Child Syndrome, which doesn’t necessarily relate to what the youngest is going through, but more a definition of mothering state – basically a mum who can’t be arsed parenting a little one anymore.

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Luckily, my third child seems to have low standards because that’s only what is offered to him. His buggy is caked in crusty remnants of Ye Snacks Of Old. He only has mostly his older brother’s clothes. His toys have no batteries and he never goes to Music With Mum.

Those things are at the bottom of my organisational ladder. But luckily my toddler doesn’t seem to mind. To go with the crusty hand-me-downs, he sleeps in our bed most nights, has biscuits for breakfast and does his own thing. Seems like fair trade to me.

Especially because I never NAG him. And you know what – he is the best behaved. He’s so loving yet independent, sociable, happy and has a wicked sense of humour. He is turning out okay because I have, in fact, been non-parenting him.

It’s fun to be the baby. You get everyone’s old stuff which means more than any other sibling and you get to KEEP them. He’s exuberant and smart (he’s self-taught, obviously).

He’s spoilt with lots of kisses and hugs to make up for his too short pants and lack of baby book. Sure, some kids crave structure and rules but my toddler has thrived under not being the subject of my parenting paranoia and neuroses. And, he knows the basics – right from wrong, respect, sharing and listening.

All this is said tongue-in-cheek of course.

I’m not like that couple who are raising their child non-gender specific. That child’s grandparents don’t even know if the kid is male or female.

That’s a Social Experiment parenting disaster waiting to happen - which is great for me because it will make my mistakes not look so bad.

In the future, if anybody blames my toddler’s behavioural problems on me at least I can say that he was brought up knowing that he was a boy.

Even though he’ll probably end up in therapy with all the gender-neutral kids.

He’s got me for his mother after all.

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