Skipping Elf on the Shelf Does Not Make You a Bad Parent
I see articles about Elf on the Shelf, Kindness Elves, or November dinosaur adventures, all of which are traditions that require daily creative effort from parents after they’ve put kids to bed, and I think that maybe parents don’t need to do that stuff to be good at parenting.
I’m so glad these things are popular when my kids are too old to care. I’d have been terrible at them. Twenty-five-year-old me would have felt like a failure for being terrible at them. You can ask my kids, I was a horrible tooth fairy. And it is okay. My kids are happy. Their lives are full of their own creative efforts. They are not emotionally scarred because they had to dig the teeth out from under their pillows and hand them to me in order to get paid. In fact, that has become a point of connection, a family joke.
So I say to parents of young children, skip the dinosaurs and elves unless they genuinely make YOU happy as well as your children. You don’t need the stress.
An additional note of caution: time and energy intensive traditions may not be possible every year. This year’s joy can become next year’s overwhelming burden. If it was fun last year and you hate it this year, find a way to let it go.
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