Advice for Worriers

Hi Readers! Jeffrey Goldberg penned this pretty darn perfect bit of advice in a column called, “What’s nnnszzasni
Your Problem?
” in the current issue of The Atlantic. Here’s the question:

Ever since our first child was born, I have slept very poorly. When I close my eyes, my mind becomes crowded with worries. I worry about my kids’ safety, their future, college education, happiness, just about anything you could think of. Is there anything I can do to put my mind at ease?

N.E., Atlanta, Ga.

Dear N.E.,

Alas, no. You are suffering from an incurable disease called parenthood. The birth of a child is the most transcendent moment in a person’s life. It also marks the beginning of what I call “The Great Terror”…

Goldberg’s timeless advice?

To put your mind at ease, I suggest removing from your home all knives, turpentine, No. 2 pencils, bathtubs, medicine, electrical outlets, chairs, peanut butter, and stairs. You should also try to remember that many of the hazards facing our children are overblown: the Crimes Against Children Research Center, for instance, notes that rates of sexual assault, bullying, and other violence against children have declined substantially in recent years, despite media suggestions to the contrary. But statistics be damned; fear is fear. Only death frees you of worry entirely, and the onset of death brings its own anxieties. However, one advantage of death is that your children will no longer torment you with incessant demands for iPads and Ke$ha downloads.

Jeff, if you come hereto Free-Range kids: WE LOVE YOU! — L.


38 Responses to Advice for Worriers

  1. BH January 5, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Totally off topic but I am watching you on Dr Phil right now!!!! I recorded it from the new OWN network last night. You are so pretty! And smart! Yay Free Range!

  2. helenquine January 5, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    “The Great Terror” I will have to start using that!

  3. Marie January 5, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    But I did all that and I’m STILL worried! Now what?

  4. Amy January 5, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    A new parent suffering from worry that interferes with usual activities (like sleep) for a long period of time (greater than two weeks) should be evaluated for perinatal anxiety disorder. It happened to me with my first and third kids. If I go to bed without my baby I’m plagued with visions of finding him dead in the morning. It’s awful, and it’s certainly something that even free-range parents can suffer from.

    Fortunately there is treatment available in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy and Zoloft, in my case.

  5. Nanci January 5, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I apologize that this is totally off the subject of today’s article but I have encountered a free-range problem that I have not found addressed anywhere and I am in need of some help. I have found myself obsessing about my kids not being free-range enough, specifically my daughter. She is 8 and I am incredibly frustrated that she does not take the initiative to do things for herself. I try to be pretty free-range, my kids 8 & 7 walk / ride bikes to friends houses and stay in the car while I run in places for quick errands. I have begun letting them stay home for short periods of time (less than 30 minutes) alone, and they ride rides alone or together at our local Six Flags. My problem is that I seem to have fallen into this trap of freaking when they need help from me and being upset that they don’t handle everything on their own. I have fears of my daughter growing up to be as weak and unself-sufficient as kids with helicopter parents when she wants me to clip her nails because “it’s too hard”. My son (7) will take the initiative and do things for himself without ever being taught how, he just watches, learns, and does it himself. My daughter has no desire to do lots of things on her own. I still do her hair, change her earrings, hook bracelets together, paint her nails, and so on. It doesn’t help that she is not a girly girl at all and has no desire to even have these things done and would be much happier just to leave the house with her hair uncombed in the morning. My son on the other hand, will get up and shower and dress nicely and spray cologne all over himself all on his own, before I am even awake. I find myself getting irritated with her and asking her aloud why it is that her little brother has no problem getting up and making his own breakfast and she can’t seem to do anything for herself. I know that my coming down on her will only hurt her self-esteem. We’re supposed to be encouraging kids to see that they can do things for themselves without us to make them more confident. Yelling at her for being incompetent will only make her feel more like she can’t accomplish anything. I’m just not sure what to do, how do you encourage a kid to be free range when they don’t really seem to want to? I apologize again for posting this in the wrong spot, I wasn’t sure where else to post it. I’m hoping there are some other parents who have had the same concerns that may have some advice. I don’t want to end up helicoptering her every move to make sure she’s being free-range!

  6. pentamom January 5, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Worry (at a bearable level, see Amy’s comment) is normal. Sometimes it seems like helicopter behavior is worry-avoidance — if I just control my child’s environment perfectly, I won’t have to worry. But Goldberg is right — unless the worrying is really out of hand, this person is merely “suffering” the normal condition of parenthood.

    The way to deal with worry is to tell yourself that the worrying doesn’t fix it, that bad things DO happen and are nearly always survived, and so forth. But what doesn’t work is to try to arrange things so that worry never happens in the first place.

  7. curiositycat January 5, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I love this! So glad I found you. I’ve been referring to our parenting as “free ranging” for a long time, so I’m amazed I haven’t come across your blog sooner.

    I especially love this from your “about” page:

    “We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence.

    “Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage.”

    As a woman who blogs about free range poultry and whose children wear bike helmets while they ride to their friends houses ALONE, this rings true for me.

    My poultry sleep in predator-proof pens at night. Likewise, my children sleep inside a locked house at night.

    During the day, the birds eat bugs, dig in the mud, roam the neighborhood, and get dirty. And so do my kids (yes, even the bugs part).

  8. baby-paramedic January 5, 2011 at 9:18 am #


    If she is not a girly-girl why the nail polish, earrings?

    Tell her if she doesn’t look after her hair you will chop it all off. Natural consequences and whatnot. And I preferred the short cut for a few years (At 9 my mother took to my hair with the clippers because I wouldn’t care for it). It hasn’t hurt me, I am now sitting here with near waist length hair, washed, brushed and neatly held in a bun.
    I even have my toe-nails painted, although admittedly that was from the four year old I was babysitting and not entirely a free will addition 😉

  9. Floyd Stearns January 5, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    If it’s something you know she can do herself, give her the tools and leave her alone. If she wants it done, I’ll bet she’ll do it. If she’s not sure of the procedure, advise her, then leave her to it. Her work may not be up to your standards, but you’ve had more years to perfect whatever it is.

  10. Jen Connelly January 5, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I was at CafeMom and there was just a post about parental worry. This mom was going on and on about her paranoia and wanted to know why it was anyone’s business because her family and friends were bugging her about. According to her post she is so anxious about everything that she throws up, can’t sleep, doesn’t eat, and thinks of nothing but what might happen to her child. It was insane. And I wouldn’t consider it a life. She was barely functioning and couldn’t understand why people were advising her to seek help. She thought she was just doing what was best for her kids (never letting a single thing happen to them).

    When anxiety and worry rule your entire day it’s time to go talk to a doctor.

    @Nanci…some kids are just like that. It’s probably nothing you are doing horribly wrong. She might just be (GASP) lazy and figures if she waits around long enough someone else will do it for her.
    I have 5 kids (4 old enough to be free-range) and they are all different and I’ve had to approach each one differently with their free-ranginess (it’s a word says I).
    As for the earrings and nails…if she doesn’t like them then just don’t do it. My girls aren’t even allowed to paint their finger nails. And hair…ugh, that’s a constant battle in my house. My 10yo wants long hair but refuses to shower or brush it. She goes to school with giant knots and last week (because of winter break) she hadn’t brushed her hair in forever. I got on her and after an hour she finally gave up and took a shower and came out with it looking neat. I found out later she actually had to cut the knot out of her hair because it was too much to brush out.
    If she doesn’t keep it brushed it is getting chopped off, above her chin. I’m sick of it.
    That rule goes for all the kids. My other 2 girls mostly keep their hair neat or will at least go brush it when I tell them to. My son, too (he has long hair…at least for a boy).
    And I refuse to do things for my kids that I know they can do. Don’t feel like getting your own cereal in the morning? I’m not doing it for you and don’t complain that your hungry all day because you didn’t eat.

  11. pentamom January 5, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Nanci, in addition to what others said — she’s 8. Kids are just different. I have a 9 year old (youngest, unsurprisingly) who doesn’t like to do things for himself. He doesn’t refuse, he just defaults to “can’t” unless we really stay on him and encourage him that he can. But there’s a balance between pushing too hard on a kid who is just not confident, and babying or helicoptering. I’m sure my son won’t be unable to cope when he’s 18, with careful, gentle encouragement all along the way, and I’m sure your daughter won’t, either. Give her space to grow up a bit more slowly, and to keep yourself from feeling like you’re obsessing, but make sure that she is consistently (which means keep doing it over time, but not every minute or at every opportunity) encouraged toward the goal of actually growing up and doing more on her own as time goes on.

    And as others have said, if it’s a matter of good grooming, insist she learn to take care of it, or have the hair cut. (Although, if she really struggles with brushing out long, tangly hair, giving her a hand at this age wouldn’t ruin her forever. But that’s only if she shows that she cares and has difficulty, not if she’s simply too lazy.)

    But if it’s a matter of “above and beyond,” like wearing earrings and nail polish, let her do without, especially if she doesn’t want it. These are not necessities for anyone, let alone an 8 yo. Even if she wants it, she can do it herself or do without.

  12. Julie January 5, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    @Nanci. Sorry. But why are you forcing an 8-year-old to do her nails and hair? She’s a kid. Let her be messy.

  13. KarenW January 5, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Nanci: I think this is the perfect place for you to post your concerns, since the topic is worry!

    Now, I’m no parenting expert, but it seems to me that you are trying to impose your own personality on to your daughter. Like others have mentioned, why does she need to have painted nails and earrings if that does not interest her? And if is not into doing her hair, cut it short. My own daughter is 10, and she wanted peirced ears a few months back so I agreed. But she was not interested in taking care of her ears properly, and they closed back up. I said “Oh well, you obviously weren’t ready.”

    If your daughter won’t take the initiative with more important things – like say, she expects you to bring her a snack instead of getting it herself, or she expects you to constantly clean up after her, I would say that you just need to put your foot down. My kids are naturally on the lazy side, and I have to tell them at least 10 times a day “Do it yourself!” If you simply follow through and don’t cave in, she will have to choice but to be more self-reliant.

  14. Heidi V January 5, 2011 at 10:26 am #


    I can see some of what your daughter is doing may be the result of peer pressure. She might be seeing what other girls her age are doing (wearing earrings, having their moms paint their nails, etc girly things) and feeling that she has to keep up with the other girls to fit in. Girls sometimes tend to think that being a “damsel in distress” is a normal expectation for women and that the girls that get their hands dirty are weird. Keep talking to her about what is going on in her life and encouraging her using her strengths as an example, and I’m sure she’ll eventually feel confident enough to start doing things on her own.
    Of course, like others have said, all kids are different and she just might not be ready to do things on her own, but will eventually grow into it with help!

  15. Uly January 5, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    My daughter has no desire to do lots of things on her own. I still do her hair, change her earrings, hook bracelets together, paint her nails, and so on. It doesn’t help that she is not a girly girl at all and has no desire to even have these things done and would be much happier just to leave the house with her hair uncombed in the morning. My son on the other hand, will get up and shower and dress nicely and spray cologne all over himself all on his own, before I am even awake.

    You want to stop helicoptering your child? Stop dictating how she dresses.

    If she doesn’t want to put on her own nail polish, or particularly want to wear it – well, she goes out without nail polish. I notice your son doesn’t have to get his nails done. If she doesn’t want to clip her own bracelets, or wear them – she goes out without jewelry! Again, I notice your son doesn’t have to wear bracelets. You talk about how he gets himself ready in the day, but his list of daily tasks is much shorter than your daughter’s. If she doesn’t want to comb her hair, let her get it cut short so it doesn’t matter.

    So long as your child is dressed appropriately for the weather and not indecently, you’ve done your job. Everything else is superfluous.

    Making her own breakfast? LOL, tell her where the fruit, bread, toaster, cereal, and milk are, and then let her handle it herself. Don’t even *ask* her if she’s made her breakfast, let her handle it herself.

    There, both problems solved.

  16. Nanci January 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Thanks so much for all the help 🙂 I’m feeling better now, some days it just gets frustrating and the kids have been home almost 2 weeks on break! I should clarify that I don’t polish her nails often, maybe twice a year for picture day or some special occasion. I’ve just been noticing more and more that her friends have their nails sloppily painted and say things about painting them themselves, and I wonder why my daughter doesn’t. She also goes weeks at a time without any jewelery until I suggest wearing some earrings or bracelet on a special occasion and then she needs me to put it on. I guess I should totally lighten up, I need to stop worrying. She is a really good kid and takes right off and makes friends easily wherever we go. I think I worry so much because I was her, and I felt so bad about myself for it. I was an only child until I was much older and my mom just naturally did everything for me. I went to 5th grade sleep away camp and had no idea how to do anything. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. The other girls brought blow-dryers and curling irons, I only combed my hair 1 day, I also only brushed my teeth 1 day. My mom was pretty humiliated when I got off the bus too. I guess I just freaked when I realized that her friends are clipping/painting nails, putting in pony tails and simple braids and such and she is not. I don’t want her to feel the way I did. I feel like I’m doing all I can to encourage her to be independent and she’s fighting it, and that just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. But I am just going to sit back and not make a big deal out of any of it. I will try my best not to worry 🙂 And she does now make her own breakfast, but for the longest time she had her brother make it for her!

  17. Floyd Stearns January 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    @ Nanci,
    Sounds like you and you daughter are off to a great New Year!!

  18. baby-paramedic January 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    @Nanci, dont worry about the nails and whatnot. Amongst my dearest friends are some real girl-girls, and some distinctly not. We all get on and barely even notice it now.
    Well, except when baby-paramedic has to go to a ball and realizes she doesnt which box the makeup would be in after she moved house… three months earlier…so has to call on the expertise of the girlygirls… (much to their delight and amusement I might add)

    Im so glad you are feeling better now =D

  19. Sean January 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm #


    At the risk of offending, I have seen a lot of parents (myself included but I try to constantly stop it) reward good tasks with love and bad tasks with lack of love (as opposed to compassion, understanding and explanation). For instance, if your child gets their toothpaste all over the bathroom countertop, you could say 1.) why do you always do this? Every night I tell you the same thing. Are you that clumsy? These types of statements are like love withdrawal and character assasination. or you could say 2.) Please try to not make a mess with the toothpaste. I know it can be hard to do. This is instructional without being an attack or love withdrawal.

    Kids sometimes turn this around and want you to do tasks to show your love toward them. (Dress me and that shows you love me) The ethical approach is the same, task-based love.

    Or it could just be a phase. 🙂 My 2 cents.

  20. Myriam January 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I think this website is about highlighting the immense benefits of allowing children more freedom and independence. At the moment, many people just see it as a pointless risk. It’s also about trying to chip away at the prevailing overall child-rearing culture in many Western countries. I certainly don’t think it’s about FORCING an individual child to be independent when they don’t really want to be or living up to some arbitrary ideal of freeranginess. Nancy, with all respect, maybe your child has picked up on your concern about being a freerange parent and is rebelling against it? Yes, obviously, our ultimate goal as parents is to raise independent adults, but the process can be gradual.
    PS: I’ve just read your last comment and see that you have come to a similar conclusion. So sorry for preaching!

  21. BMS January 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    I just want to speak up for all the non-girly girls out there.

    I am an engineering professor. I am sitting here typing with nails bitten to the quick that haven’t seen polish since my sister’s wedding 8 years ago. My hair is in a neat ponytail, down to the middle of my back, but I haven’t been to a hairdresser in about 6 years, and prior to that it was 10 years. I trim the ends myself when they get ratty. I dress professionally, but I never wear makeup, nor do I wear skirts unless the temperature is above 85 F or it’s a wedding or funeral. I don’t own heels (helps that hubby is 5’2″ and I am 5’8″). I have ever been thus. Never went through a ‘nails and makeup and hair’ phase, despite all the other girls doing it. I buzzed my own hair a la Sinead O’Connor in freshman year of high school and kept it that way for 8 years before I grew it out again.

    My point? Don’t worry about it. In fact, rejoice that you have a girl who ISN’T obsessed with superficial stuff. As long as she keeps herself clean and reasonably neat (a haircut might be in order), worry not at all about the girly stuff. It is possible to have a full life, attract a mate, and find a job without it.

    Oh, and I find the best way to get kids to do things for themselves is to be just as lazy as they are 🙂

  22. Dragonwolf January 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    To add another for Nanci – What’s your daughter’s hair like? Is it thick and/or fine? If it is, does she have conditioner? It might be genuinely too hard for her to brush out if it is thick and she doesn’t have conditioner. Also, it might help her if she knew to hold her hair close to the roots with one hand and brush the rest with the other (so the brushing isn’t pulling on the roots, which hurts).

    If she has those and still won’t brush her hair, then a haircut might be in order. I went through the same phase, where I refused to brush my hair and put it up so it wouldn’t keep tangling. My mom had me get it cut. I took care of it after that.

    As for the rest of the stuff? For one, painting one’s own nails is a pain to do and takes a lot of practice (and is just in general easier if someone else does it, in my opinion). I don’t blame her for asking for your help, but if she doesn’t want to do it, there’s no sense forcing her to. So what if “everyone else is doing it”? If she feels she wants to do it as well, then she’ll do it herself, or at least come to you about it.

    Girls don’t have to wear makeup or jewelery or do more with their hair than brush it. I go so long between wearing makeup that my stuff usually expires.

    Free range isn’t just about making/having/letting kids do things on their own and figuring it out for themselves. It’s also about making sure they have the tools and the know-how to do things themselves. Sometimes, the tools are more than just skills.

  23. Dragonwolf January 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Oh, also, don’t compare her to her brother (“why can’t you be more like him?” etc). That will just make her mad and kill her self-image (I’ve been there). Instead, recognize and rejoice that she’s a different person. When talking to her about things like the hair issue, don’t talk about her brother unless she brings it up. What he does should have no bearing on what she does (unless they have to share a bathroom, which might be another reason she doesn’t want to do more on that front).

  24. Larry Harrison January 6, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    @BH You stated you were watching Lenore’s Dr Phil appearance. Can you possibly–if it’s appropriate to ask–forward me that clip somehow? If anyone has any clips on her John Stossel appearance, that would be great too. I’ve tried to find them at the actual “official” sites as it were (as the commercials go: “if you’d like a copy of today’s show, please contact us at…”) but I can’t locate either anywhere.

    I loved Jeff’s reply to the letter writer. And yes–the writer (here) who was dealing with her girl dressing herself? I concur–they need to learn to do it themselves, even if the results are less than satisfactory.

    Which brings me to a common problem I encounter: people judging you as responsible for the outcomes in such situations where the child is old enough to do it themselves. So many people think you’re a bad parent to let them suffer the consequences. To heck with it. In my case, if our kids don’t want to eat when we’re eating, I don’t force it down their throat because “you’ll be hungry later.”

    I let what happens happen–and when they’re hungry later, oh well–what did I tell you was going to happen? And when people want to get on me and say “you’re starving that child”–no sir, no ma’am, they did that all just fine themselves.


  25. Dee January 6, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    “I just want to speak up for all the non-girly girls out there.”

    Yeah, same here. I was cleaning out a drawer recently and found some nail polish which had turned into a solid lump in its container.

    I spent part of my childhood with a pixie cut because I didn’t care about my hair, and since I was the oldest of five, nor did my mom. Nowadays, I occasionally trim it once or twice a year to get rid of ratty ends and generally wear it pulled back in some way.

    I recently accidentally bumped the (turned-off, unplugged) hair dryer into a full sink, sighed, and tossed it under the sink with a mental reminder that maybe I should buy a new hair dryer someday.

    I have some makeup, and I do know how to put on a simple but decent “face”. That was a valuable thing to learn . . . some way to put on some neutral makeup quickly for formal affairs. I wear makeup a few times a year, if I have to job interview, if I have to wear a fancy dress, if I have to meet clients for work.

  26. fnord January 6, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    U got quoted, congratz 😉

    The only solution is to enter into a play-relationship where u define the parameters, btw.

    (from young parent)

  27. fnord January 6, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    (Playrelationship: teach the kid the difference between playful “dont” and really serious, hospital serious DONT. Without being in any way emotional, just explain that part as soon as they get language. Up til then, its pure terror.

  28. Jen January 6, 2011 at 4:15 am #


    The only thing I will add is that maybe your daughter is trying to get more attention from you. Just a thought.

  29. Beth January 6, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    For Nancy with the little girl who doesn’t want to wear nail polish etc. Since when is it desirable or required for a little girl of that age to wear nail polish and jewelry? Some people would think this is actually inappropriate, so I would not worry about her not wanting to do it or like it. If my mother had made me do these things at that age I would have run out the door screaming! I am perfectly girly now-don’t force it on her and just make sure she is relatively clean. She will be fine and may start doing more things on her own if they are not things that she hates anyway.

  30. BMS January 6, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    As far as makeup goes, I have always subscribed to the idea that if people really don’t like the way my face looks as is, they can avert their eyes. I won’t mind. 🙂

  31. odiscountstore January 6, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    ALWAYS remember that SCAREtistics (statistics) are overblown. Who provides them? Media. What does media need? Your attention. Things are often inflated, or else presented with a very dismal point of view. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Staceyjw January 6, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    Hi Nancy,
    Based on your second comment, I wanted to add that maybe you should share your experience with your daughter. Tell her how it made you feel to not be able to do the things other girls were doing, and that’s why you care if she knows how. I would follow up with how its OK to not wear nail polish or anything fancy.

    Sometimes kids and adults will act like they can’t, or don’t care too, when its something they don’t want to do. She may not want to defy you by saying NO, so instead she is lazy about it.She may admit this if you ask, and you can talk about being direct instead.

    Or she could be lazy- I know all about it ;). The only cure for this is refusing to do it for her. Show her how if needed, then stay away.

    She makes her own breakfast! She sounds pretty able to me, ehich means you are doing a good job as is.

  33. KLY January 6, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Nanci – I can understand worrying that your daughter will feel the way you did, but if you are teaching her *how*, she’s already not in the same position you were. You haven’t automatically done everything for her, and she knows what needs to be done… but perhaps she’s just not interested in doing it if she can help it. Heh. You sound as if you’re worried she will not fit in and keep up with her friends, but chances are she is completely aware of what her friends are doing and just doesn’t care about the same stuff.
    My daughter is like that. It drove her (paternal) grandmother insane for a long while. Personally, my approach was that if she wanted to look like she was raised by wolves, that was fine as long as she understood that some people were going to be judgmental about it. She understood and didn’t care what they thought. Eventually, she found her own balance (she now even paints her nails… but in the most obnoxious colours known to man). I personally feel like I got a leg up when it comes to dealing with peer pressure later.

    If she’s refusing to do things for herself around the house… that’s just something kids sometimes do. “I can’t” and “it’s too hard” are usually kid-speak for “I don’t wanna.” Heh. I have seen my own child suddenly deny all knowledge of tasks she has been doing since she was five (she’s now 11).
    You mentioned having her brother make breakfast for her… That’s just what siblings do sometimes. Thanks to my own brothers deciding it was easier to have me make breakfast for them, I ended up serious cook in the family (and, as we got older, could bribe them with my cooking).

  34. Cheryl W January 6, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Hi Nanci, I have an 11 year old daughter. She loves to wear dresses (pants are for hikes only and second hand because she only wears them a couple times a year.) My daughter has long hair. It is hard for her to get the stuff underneath, and if I don’t help, it ends up a rats nest. Shampooing I need to help with every so often too as it is hard for her to get it properly rinsed (although she is getting there.) My daughter does need help with the buttons or zippers on the backs of her dresses, and has expressed no interest in earrings or makeup other than pixie dust a couple of years ago. Maybe it helps that I don’t wear much makeup, and as far as nailpolish, I don’t have the time to keep it nice with gardening and such. Free Range for my daughter is wearing what she wants, dresses, even though very few other girls we know do it (although some are wearing them now because of her.) I remember being the same age and having issues with my hair too. I usually have my daughter start, and I finish. Same with my 6 year old son who has long hair.

    If she really cannot do these things…is there something else going on? My middle child (son) had vision issues where his eyes could not focus on the object without a lot of concentration. Pouring cereal, milk, and such resulted in a mess. When he was little he didn’t draw, play with blocks or cars – I thought he wasn’t interested, but it turned out he couldn’t see what he was doing. He also has other fine motor issues – it is hard to hold a pencil, cut, things like that. Added in that my son has ADHD, well, concentration makes it hard to do some of those things that take fine motor and time (I think doing fingernails would be very hard for him!)

    Anyhow, I don’t want to assume that every kid is “normal” nor create problems where there are none. My oldest brother is, and always has been, a slob. My youngest brother is, and always has been at the other end. Clean room, nice clothes, very picky about all that stuff that my oldest brother could care less about. (I remember wading through stuff a foot deep in oldest brother’s room when I was a kid!.) So, it may also be temperament. At 8, (or was it 9) she is still within the range of normal in my opinion.

    As for your camp experience, I doubt as a mom I would be upset. I would make it the kid’s issue, not mine. Just like now when I tell my kids to put on a coat because it 20F, and 5 minutes later outside they have it off. I told them what to do, they need to follow up. I can only beat those horses so much! (Figurative beatings only!)

  35. Kawaii January 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    In response to Nancy, the hair thing brushed up a few memories. I too was generally neglectful of my appearance as a child (I stand firmly behind the belief that is is the norm with children), my mom never made an issue of it except to send me to the bath when necessary. I realized that maybe I could brush my hair more often when my best friend handed me a brush while driving somewhere in the car with his family. This is a fond memory. I’m sorry your experience was a bad memory for you, but that does not mean your daughter’s will be. The other memory was of staying with a family of two girls with long hair. They had a bedtime ritual where their mother brushed and braided their hair and she included me during my stay. It is so very nice to have someone gently brush your hair. We were all in Junior High or High School and perfectly competent in brushing our own hair. Perhaps if you are concerned about your daughter learning to brush her hair properly you could create a similar ritual/routine. Depending on both of your personalities, it might be a nice way to spend some quiet time together.

  36. Kawaii January 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Oh, I also wanted to chime in as another non-girlie girl. Don’t worry, even if she is left to her own devices, she will figure it out as she matures. And as to make up etc, not all girls wear them, and not wearing jewelry on an everyday basis will mean she doesn’t have much practice with the clips. Its always nice to have someone around to do those tricky things like bracelet clips and zippers on the back, even when we could do them ourselves.

  37. o.h. January 8, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Smiling, hardly able to restrain his tears, Levin kissed his wife and went out of the dark room. What he felt towards this little creature was utterly unlike what he had expected. There was nothing cheerful and joyous in the feeling; on the contrary, it was a new torture of apprehension. It was the consciousness of a new sphere of liability to pain. And this sense was so painful at first, the apprehension lest this helpless creature should
    suffer was so intense, that it prevented him from noticing the strange thrill of senseless joy and even pride that he had felt when the baby sneezed.

    -Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877)


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