Actress Jennifer Garner shared her parenting philosophy in a recent interview on NBC’s “Today,” saying that she believes it’s okay for children to experience some “benign neglect” and that their lives are their own. While this may sound like she’s promoting neglect, experts suggest it’s more about giving kids the space to grow and enjoy their independence.
Los Angeles parenting coach Oona Hanson explained that this message resonates with many parents who are seeking permission to step back from intensive parenting. This approach allows children to be bored, make mistakes, and figure things out on their own, fostering their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Catherine Newman, an academic department coordinator and author, encouraged her kids to entertain themselves during the summer, and this freedom led to them becoming imaginative and self-sufficient. The space for creativity and independence allowed her children to grow while making lasting memories.
According to experts, being overly involved in children’s lives can inhibit their growth and independence, and parents showing confidence that their children can handle things on their own can help them navigate difficult situations.
It’s important for parents to prioritize themselves and have a life outside of their children so they can model the adulthood they want their kids to have. Finding the balance between involvement and space for independence is essential, and setting up a productive environment while providing support when needed can help children thrive.
Ultimately, letting go of impossible parenting standards and being compassionate toward oneself is crucial. Finding a balance that works for individual families and listening to intuition can help create a healthy and nurturing environment for children while allowing parents to have a fulfilling life outside of parenting.