Picking up Rocks

There have been many articles recently about “helicopter parents”.  Meaning parents that hover a bit too closely to protect their children and in doing so cause them to be fearful and develop into adults that are afraid to take a risk.  The world today is so different from when my kids were young, there is more to fear.  Things I never dreamed of.

Parents are also criticized for creating too much structured time for their children.  Some experts believe this will stifle creativity in children and deny them valuable free-time activities.  

I know youngsters today that are instantly “bored” when there is nothing to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I can remember saying “I’m bored” to my parents about a week after school was out each summer.  Their answer to that age-old dilemma was to assign me chores.  There were plenty on the farm and around the house.  I can still hear my sweet mother saying, “Well, if you are so bored then you can sweep the kitchen, clean out the refrigerator, take out the trash, clean your room, fold the laundry, do the dishes and if you get that done, you can go outside and help your Dad.  Take the wheelbarrow outside and pick up rocks out of the field.”  and she said that in her not-so-sweet voice. With her hands on her hips.

When my own children were bored, I used the same technique at times.  I also told them “Only boring people are bored.”  That usually kept them quiet for awhile. 

Most of us have some regrets about parenting and wish we could do certain things over again, but the truth is- most of us do the best we can with what we have.  Providing food, shelter, and love is sometimes all you can handle in a day.  

 If your kids understand that you love them and that you do the things you are doing for their benefit, you have accomplished something. If you can find a balance between structured and unstructured time, being protective but not hovering, you are accomplishing a lot.

What are some parenting skills that you are proud of?  


About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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24 Responses to Picking up Rocks

  1. Hard to compare my upbringing with rearing my own as I was one of eight children, growing up in middle class Australia in 1950s and 60s, and we had two children in the 80s. I didn;t have my own room til I was 14, didn’t wear a dress that hadn’t belonged to my older sister or cousin til I was 12 and was expected to pitch in like everyone else. We never used the “b” word on holidays, in case we were made clean the windows or the other least favourite job, polishing the cutlery. I think our kids were reasonably spoilt materially, but not emotionally. They have grown to be empathetic, kind and thoughtful and helpful adults, so we must have done something right. They both have still incredibly untidy rooms, though. When they partner seriously, think that will be sorted.


    • ReStore Community Center says:

      I wouldn’t worry about the untidy rooms…. sounds like your children have the important skills they need in life! Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. My younger brother was ADHD (although back in the early 60s we didn’t call it that) and whenever he’d tell Mom he was bored, she’d say “You know where the vacuum cleaner is” (and he’d actually use it!) I didn’t quite go that far, but my boys were rarely ‘bored’ – they had lots of ‘creative’ toys (I still have a huge Rubbermaid container full of Lego in the basement, plus hundreds of Hot Wheels cars lurking about), board games, and books (plus a HUGE yard and a pool in the summer); computer and TV time were limited. I really think the best thing parents can do for their kids is let them ‘try and fail’ – only by making mistakes and learning from them will they figure out life. I’m not sure my boys necessarily appreciated that attitude when they were younger, but they’ve grown into reliable young men with good heads on their shoulders and solid careers ahead of them. You have to let your kids grow up and learn to manage on their own – ‘hovering’ and ‘rescuing’ simply hinders the process.


  3. Louella says:

    I’m 34 now, and although I had some very challenging times during my childhood, I also have some really wonderful memories. If we complained of being bored one time, my mother would provide us with chores, and if we did not want to do them, we’d be kicked out into the backyard, which was MASSIVE. We had a gorgeous big tree we made a swing out of. We used to climb up and slide down the branches pinching the Mulberrys from the neighbours bush.. lol..

    I remember even having assigned rooms in the tree, we had bedrooms kitchens and bathrooms… we used to drag all the respective furniture up there with us if we could.. lol.

    I spent most of the early years of my children’s lives working, so now I am taking some time to be with them by doing some full time study to pick up yet another qualification. On the upside I get to pick them up every day from school and it’s teaching, so that certainly provides me with some additional skills to support their development!

    Great reflective blog for me to read.. Thanks so much!

    Miss Lou


  4. We recently came back from visiting my grandmother. She was worried about “entertaining” her nine year old great-granddaughter. She said, “I don’t have a computer!”
    I laughed. My daughter loves board games, brought along her jump rope for rest stops, loves to draw and read. I said “See, some things don’t change!”
    When I can answer like that, I know I’m doing something right. I am a bit of a bellower, though, but will feel lucky if that is my only regret as a parent. We try not to over-schedule, so she has plenty of time for imaginative play and are gradually letting her do more responsible things. I’ve always assumed my job as a parent was to give her skills to be independent and make good decisions, so that eventually, I could take a break!


  5. Caddo-Jael says:

    “If your kids understand that you love them…” I so wonder if that is a skill to be learned, or a God-given gift/talent–and if parents have failed to communicate that, what does that mean, I wonder. I chose not to be a parent, as I saw that the cost of not doing it well continues to accumulate interest. So, in that, I believe I was wise. God bless you Ruth!


    • Maybe it’s a little bit of both skill and talent.. Interesting thought. I think you have found the key to it all… communication. So many misunderstandings and problems in the world today are a result of poor communication. I see it every day. I grew up in a household where I was loved, but we never said the words….it worked for me, but some need to hear those words “I love you” over and over. Learned that from my grandaughter. 🙂


  6. I had never heard the term, ‘helicopter parents,’ until some friends went to stay with their two teenage grandchildren overnight while the ‘kids’ had a night away from home. While the parents were gone, they kept texting the children every 30 minutes or so to check in or tell them what to do or ask how it was going. The grandparents who are more than capable of taking two teenagers out to dinner, staying with them in their home, and fixing their breakfast before the parents returned, were quite miffed at the constant texting. I understand being concerned for a child’s safety but let’s allow them a little freedom. And, I like being a grandparent much more than a parent because you can have a lot more fun and not worry about all the rules and regulations. 🙂


  7. so agree with what all have said…Things I did right…and things I did wrong…but, I do feel I tried to do the best I knew how…


  8. Maxi says:

    It’s easier as a grandparent, I have more time. I’m gettin’ ready to learn my granddaughter’s favorite game on the wii to surprise her. She will be here soon for six weeks of the summer.

    I don’t know the first thing about the wii so I better get on it.
    blessings ~ maxi


  9. LB says:

    Excellent Post! What I find interesting (and fun and lovely) is that most of the parenting skills and strategies that I complained about when I was a child are the same things I employed as a parent. My parents were the “strict” parents and to this day, friends ask if they can be adopted by my parents (who are healthy and active in their 80th year)


  10. What a fabulous post. I think that you have even scratched the surface that relates to our missing children community. Boredom in children CAN send them directly into the paths of monsters who we don’t want near our pets, let alone our children. Especially in the Summer months.

    Knowing what the perfect amount of structure is for every child is such a fine science. I am confident that as mothers we try to create that balance which let our children feel grounded, safe, and yes even bored sometimes.

    Awesome piece Ruth ~


  11. I really hope we are teaching the value of hard work and doing a job well. It makes me sad when I meet an older teen who has no concept of how to work because they’ve never had to. Our kids play hard, but they work hard too.

    I’m going to have to remember your “only boring people get bored” line. I like that one.


  12. You’re right that the key is finding the balance between hovering and being neglectful. Finding that balance means understanding and respecting our kids’ development levels, and adjusting our expectations and demands to meet them where they’re at.


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