A Beta Parent’s Manifesto


Posted 05/08/2014 from Huffington Post


“What comes after one?” asked the mother, pushing her 3-year-old on the swings. He was too busy laughing to answer, so she was forced to repeat, “What comes after one?”

“Two,” he mumbled, looking off at the climbing structure.

“Good. What comes after two?”


“Now what comes after three?”


“What comes after three?”

Grudgingly, “Four.”

“Now what comes after four?”

And here is where I fell in love with the boy. He glared at his mother and blurted, “Orange!”

Can you blame him? Who wants to do math drills when there’s swinging to do and monkey bars to climb and popsicles to eat and, oh, you know, childhood to have?

Kids aren’t the only ones rebelling. Contrary to what you might read, there are parents out there who don’t hire bilingual nannies or fall to pieces when their kids brush up against a non-organic toy. Let’s call them Beta Parents. I am one of them. I let things slide. My kid eats floor food. Sometimes we go an entire week without going to a class. I have barely begun his application to MIT.

Who are my fellow Beta Parents?

Beta Parents don’t spend $2,000 to prep their 4-year-old for tests.

Beta Parents don’t try to engage their children every second of the day. Sometimes they leave them alone with a crayon, a piece of string and a cardboard box.

Beta Parents let their children eat processed cheese.

Beta Parents own televisions.

Beta Parents don’t do their children’s homework.

Sometimes Beta Parents miss bedtime and are inconsistent, because human beings are inconsistent.

Beta parents don’t hide Vitamin A-rich pumpkin purée in the pancakes, nor do they make “cupcakes” out of cantaloupe with “frosting” made of beet-based food coloring and Greek yogurt.

Beta Parents don’t have air purifiers, and if we do, we forget to change the filters.

Beta Parents don’t read parenting books — except maybe Go the F**k to Sleep.

Beta Parents don’t subscribe to a particular philosophy of child-rearing. Beta Parents aren’t even always Beta Parents. Once in a while we’re Alpha Parents. Sometimes we’re Omegas.

Beta Parents aren’t lazy, selfish parents; we just don’t think it’s healthy for children to be the center of the universe at every moment or to feel pressure to succeed while digging in the sandbox.

Here’s a radical thought: What if we all worried about making our children into good people, instead of successful people? And what if, instead of turning them into little bonsai projects, we let them grow a little wild?

Beta Parents, unite! Our kids have nothing to lose but their third homes in the Hamptons!

PS. . . .  A few weeks ago, the professor had a request from a self-described “helicopter mom” to meet with him and another faculty member, and oh yes with her son!  She had some concerns about her son’s curriculum choices. Parents are paying a huge tuition at this private university, but he has never had this happen before.  He has had moms push into his office when the student is being interviewed.. . . . .only once.  The next time he was ready with a chair for her to sit in and the promise that he would answer her questions after the interview.  I heard  that mothers are going with their children on  job interviews, preparing portfolios, and writing thank you notes to the person interviewing.

PPS.. . . .   I don’t know if this “syndrome” is running rampant in the rest of the world, but please tell me about parenting styles where you are!

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, USA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to A Beta Parent’s Manifesto

  1. Jnana Hodson says:

    Orange indeed! Or maybe another one?


  2. Lydia Devadason says:

    This is great! And phew – I’m OK! 🙂


  3. Eric Alagan says:

    In Singapore, many parents take their annual vacation so that they can coach their little angels for exams. Some also fall ill from anxiety during exam season – I meant, the parents!


    • annetbell says:

      Not surprised, though it is crazy. Here Singapore and Japan are held up as examples where kids have long school hours, tutoring and weekend classes to succeed academically. Thanks for sharing !


  4. Whew – that swing time was exhausting for me, as well! Great article. Sad but true. What ever happened to learning from your mistakes? Resilience and all that good stuff!? 🙂 ~Karen~


    • annetbell says:

      I have no idea how or when this crept into our culture. So sad for the little guys……and you are right, it is important to learn from our mistakes. . .


  5. Don Ostertag says:

    I like the idea stated about raising children to be ‘good’ instead of ‘successful’. And I love the little guy’s answer, ‘ORANGE’. .


  6. Beta parent and proud of it 😀😀


  7. reocochran says:

    I liked this post, it made a good and valid point. Learning should be fun and not repetitive. I like the little one’s ingenuity in answering “orange,” too. I think we all need to stay in the game with our children, try to make them love learning. I find my grandkids are fascinated by a lot of life, little things that you can research or find books on, while still making this be part of their choices, too. I have read that people with “EQ” get farther than with “IQ.” Emotional connections are the way to go far in life! Great post!


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