Spoiled Child? Quit as the Maid

Today’s parents are not just “helicopter parents…They are a jet-powered turbo attack model.-Hara Estroff Marano- Author, Nation of Wimps

By now, you’ve probably heard of “helicopter parenting” and all its over-protective qualities like: hovering, correcting,doing-for, helping, etc.

For the sake of this post, let’s not end the list there- let’s be thorough and include a lot of chopper noise, see the pic below!

The classic ‘helicopter parent’ is far more than a hoverer – a helicopter parent is the maid, the chef, the chauffeur, the agent, the coach — all of it wrapped in the guise of one overprotective, loving parent.


The Good News: We Know it’s a Problem and We’re Looking for Change

Luckily, there IS good news: slowly and steadily, we are recognizing this is not turning out well for our kids OR the future of our society. In the recent article, Spoiled Rotten Why do kids rule the roost? by Elizabeth Kolbert, Kolbert looks at several books, authors and research that support this point: kids who aren’t contributing to their own lives, let alone the community, are turning out ill prepared for the real world (and in short:spoiled). Translation to well meaning parents everywhere: you’re NOT really doing anything for your child when you literally “do everything” for your child!

I Get the Problem, What is the Solution?

Those of us who are stepping back see this problem written in in bright lights across the sky. What’s not so easy to see? The solution! Parents may know with every ounce of reason that they SHOULD not raise a spoiled child but they run into this:

So then what? What do I do? How DO I let go? Where do I start? Or what might I already be doing that I want to keep doing to increase my child’s independence?

Once the wheels start spinning, it’s often, to the frustration of the parent, nowhere fast.


Yep, that’s it. Just quit. But before you toss the apron on the ground, you have to mentally be ready:

  1. to see messes,
  2. to watch the kids meltdown w/ new routine
  3. to stay patient and
  4. to teach them how to do their own stuff.

Once you’re ready mentally, then you can totally and completely quit being the maid. Instead, you’ll be one of many “contributors” to the family vs. the one running around keeping everything together, neat, orderly and within reach.

As you get started, remember:

  • Start early (ideally)
  • Invite vs. demand
  • Take time for training
  • Be consistent!

(Stay tuned for more HOW TO and WHY BOTHER resources to keep it moving forward.)

If It’s That Easy, Why Am I STILL EMPLOYED?

Ha! There are two things that keep even the most well-intentioned parents wearing that perfect little apron:

ONE: We make little excuses, which are really just myths (we’ll get deep into this habit in Duct Tape Parenting)

TWO: We don’t take the time. It’s not a quick fix so yes, it takes a bit of time to get into the groove. But nobody really says, gee, it’s worth it. So, I’m telling you now: GEEEEE, it’s worth it!

Vicki Hoefle on WCAX, BTV — Quit your job as the maid!

Sold, So What Will IT Look Like?

Once you quit being the maid- the one who cleans, preps, sweeps, stuffs, packs, checks on, and keeps the house moving (think Alice from the Brady Bunch!), you’ll be able to do this:

  • have coffee in bed while the kids get themselves out the door, leaving you more mental space for what matters
  • chat casually (and stay emotionally available) while your six year old unloads the dishes
  • not sweat when guests come over because the kids know what to do (if they haven’t done it yet, you won’t feel guilty!)
  • encourage the kids to find solutions vs. YOU finding all the solutions (and running in circles to keep people happy)
  • celebrate the progress as your kids gain independence and confidence with each task
  • see connections to the contributions IN the family to their success OUTSIDE the family
  • notice resiliency, respect and responsibility grow as you remain consistent, calm and cool about quitting!

Remind Me Why I Should Do This Again

Happily. Here’s the situation: parents who over protect and pad their children from hard work, consequences, the judgement of others, and physical bumps and bruises are ultimately interfering with their child’s independence. I’m not making this up: the books, articles and research on this fact is astounding– and it’s everywhere. We have to…HAVE TO get “new thinking” about what it means to raise our children as a society!

If these children are to be future leaders, sheep howdy, they should learn to wash their socks, clean their own toilets and own their own messes. If they don’t get the gift of trial and error, oopsies and what ifs while they are young, the real world – you know the one WE live in– will not be a very welcoming place. It will be a harsh reality check, and quite frankly, any child who has not developed resiliency, independence and personal judgment, will not enjoy the experience very much. Our job is to get them prepared for the world, not protect them from the world until the day we throw them into it!

1 thought on “Spoiled Child? Quit as the Maid

  1. Hi,
    Could you suggest some good books that give examples and guidance on how to accomplish this because it sounds “right” and definitely better than the way we are doing it right now.

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