Mother with their teen child in front of a red wall


I’m Quietly Quitting Parenting

Oct 6, 2022

Take this job and shove it.

That’s the mantra I remember hearing as a little kid. Shove it where? I had no clue, but it was my first memory of hearing someone talk about not loving their work.

The lyric was written by David Allen Coe and popularized in a tune by Johnny Paycheck. He crooned bitterly about workin’ hard for a living without seeing the rewards.

But it seems we're a little more polite in 2022. Instead of shoving our jobs, many are quietly quitting them. No fuss, no anthem, no country song. It’s a concept that’s gaining traction online. Employees who are sick and tired of going above and beyond the call of duty are doing what they were hired to do. They’re giving up working overtime and hustling for a job they already have.

Craig Stephens is the parent of a teen and as he puts it, "establishing and enforcing a curfew can seem like a never-ending battle."

What 'Quiet Quitting' Looks Like For My Parenting

The movement resonates with me, and I’ve decided to apply it to parenting. Oh, let me explain. I’m the mom of a teenager. And here are some of the things I’m quietly quitting:

  • Picking up after people
  • Checking on homework
  • Making every meal
  • Getting people places on time
  • Doing all the laundry
  • Reminding about lessons and appointments
  • General all-around nagging

Now, this might make me sound like a disgruntled parent. Or one who’s sick and tired of doing things for my kid. The truth is quite the opposite. I love my job as a mother, and a part of me wants to do everything for her. But she won’t always be under my wing. To prepare for adulthood, I have to help her by doing less.

While I might be pulling back from some duties, I will be:

  • Lending an ear
  • Offering advice when asked
  • Providing boundaries and rules
  • Offering a shoulder to lean on
  • Protecting and guiding
  • Comforting and nurturing

Can a family cake connect generations that are 80 years apart? Laura Mullin thinks so — and she's even sharing the recipe.

Learning To Let Go In Certain Situations

The hardest part about stepping back from parenting is the fear my child will fail. I know she’ll learn more from messing up than me swooping in. But the thought of her being late for class, forgetting to do her homework or not eating breakfast makes me want to break into a cold sweat. It goes against the very fabric of my mamma bear being.

But my daughter has an independent spirit and is ready for more autonomy.

"I must put away my ambitions for my child and let her find them for herself, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious sometimes."

Recently, she made the mistake of telling me that she had an upcoming assignment. I almost fell back into the old pattern of wanting to ask if she’d finished it — but I held my tongue. The weekend ticked by, and by Sunday evening, I was jumping out of my skin because I hadn’t seen any sign of her doing her work. I felt anxious. Had she forgotten? Did she not care?

I started spiralling into worry, fuelled by worst-case scenarios. I began thinking that she isn’t going to get her homework done, so she will get a lower grade, which means her average will go down and she won’t get into the university of her dreams, resulting in her not living up to her full potential. And from there I surmised she won’t have a happy life. All because I didn’t check in on her homework one Sunday afternoon.

In reality, I know she’ll do just fine. And if there are bumps along the road, she’ll learn from them. I want her to feel resilient in the face of challenges. That means I must put away my ambitions for my child and let her find them for herself, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious sometimes.

My daughter is 15, and the years are fleeting.

I’m going to take this job and love it.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the co-artistic director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the co-host and producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.