Why it’s Time to be a Half-Arsed Parent, Not a Perfect Parent

For a long time, we’ve needed a new model of raising kids that takes the stress off kids and parents and lets us all enjoy life again. It’s called Half-arsed parenting. It’s time to free yourself as a parent and stop trying to be perfect all the damn time.

Let go of hyper-parenting, helicopter parenting, and cotton wool parenting.

Instead, let’s embrace half-arsed parenting

Half-arsed parents are determined to return to the time when kids playing alone in the park was normal, not worthy of a human services check.

When children were naughty and punished, rather than their parents.

When you could share food at school when someone forgot their lunch. And have parties without asking the whole class in case someone got left out.

When parents went to the hospital emergency department because someone had a piece of Lego up their nose, not because they almost hurt their hand playing soccer.

When kids learnt to drive in shopping centre car parks on Sundays. And when weekends were about parents, not getting kids to sporting events and playdates.

Half-arsed parents are determined to raise their kids in a world without kids’ lunchboxes with fiddly little built-in freezer bricks and sandwiches shaped like unicorns.

They unwrap their kids from cotton wool, de-plug them and let them be free.

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Half-arsed parents take their kids to the park and god forbid, let them play 

They let them hang out, go exploring, have adventures and have fun without being watched over by an adult. When they’ve had enough (or you’ve had enough of them moaning about what they’re missing online), they hand them screens so everyone can have a break.

Half-arsed parenting is a clarion call against the assumption that our children need protection, not freedom. Half-arsed parents aren’t taking things so seriously that they forget to have a life filled with kindness, dancing, fun and happiness.

A big part of Half-arsed parenting is ignoring the messages other people put on social media. As a mother, I don’t care about ‘retaining my sensuality’ and ‘finding my femininity’ like some social media influencers. I care about retaining my sanity and finding my daughter’s mouthguard that costs $80.

Half-arsed parents keep it real

They don’t have a fitness routine. They’re happy enough to duck around the block with the dog after dinner three nights a week.

They don’t have a fashion philosophy. They buy the clothes they can afford.

And they don’t have a home decoration plan. They have a house with some furniture in it and knick-knacks they were given for wedding presents and haven’t sold on eBay yet.

Half-arsed parents don’t have a lifestyle – they have a life, and a damned good one at that

Half-arsed parents don’t need celebrities, bloggers or Insta-influencers advising them. They trust their gut because they know most of the answers anyway.

They free themselves from the guilt, expectation and pressure from others and accept that good enough is more than enough. In fact, it’s great.

Susie O'Brien half-arse parenting
Living the best half-arse parenting, full-glass wine life. Source: Herald Sun/Nicole Cleary

Half-arsed parents don’t have to be perfect

The key is to set low standards that are met most of the time. And if they aren’t, it won’t matter. No one will notice and no one will care. The kids will be happier because their parents are happier.

Remember: have a laugh, keep it real and don’t judge others too harshly. They’re probably like you and doing their best. Live the life you want and assess your success by your happiness, not your kid’s achievements.

In my household, it’s a work in progress – there are still too many sporting matches, too much Netflix and too much attitude from the little buggers, but we’re getting there. Indeed, it’s fair to say my half-arsed parenting is, well, half-arsed. I’m only halfway there, and that’s okay.

All hail the half-arsed parents out there!

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Source: Herald Sun/Nicole Cleary

Sound like you? Yup! Us too! And this is just the beginning. Dr. Susie O’Brien’s book The Secret of Half-Arsed Parenting is out now. You can get it at Booktopia, Dymocks, Good Reads or Big W.

Check it out on Insta and stay tuned because we’ve got more arse-halfed parenting pearls of wisdom to share every week!

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Dr Susie O'Brien is a journalist at the Herald Sun, author of The Secret of Half-arsed Parenting and mother of three. She is a regular media commentator and appears weekly on Sunrise where her biggest audience is women on treadmills watching with the sound turned down.

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