UNITED FRONT  

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One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is ensuring that you are consistent with your child. This can be made even more unbearable if both parents don’t agree on the way to raise their child. Whether it is the amount of freedom the child has, the chores they must do, the consequences for their behaviour or any other aspect involved in parenting, if a child notices inconsistency between their parents they will take full advantage of this, playing one parent off against another.

You see this scenario a lot with broken families where the parents are less likely to want to co-operate with each other, but the problem can be just as troublesome within traditional family units.

We always try to project a united front. I will never debate or overrule my husband in front of the kids, however if I don’t agree with his stand on something regarding the kids, I will discuss it with him privately, raising my concerns with what he has enforced and then it is up to him to change the parameters with the kids if that’s what we have agreed.

We are both big believers in not making empty threats and if we say there will be a consequence for misbehavior, we will both ensure that is carried out.

I recently saw a friend who was so upset as she had told her teenage son he could go to a party but not sleep over, as she didn’t know the parents well and didn’t know who else was staying. She was going away for the night and her husband had agreed he would pick up their son from the party. The next day she found out that the father had instead told him he could sleep over at the party, I think mostly because it inconvenienced him to go pick up his son. She was livid that her husband had over ruled her without discussing his decision with her and that her son will now think he can get his own way by going to his father.

Raising kids is a joint responsibility, but to ease confusion with the kids and alleviate them playing one parent off against another, it is so important to try to stay on the same page as each other in regards to the boundaries and rules your kids need to respect.

Have you ever found your child playing you off against their other parent? Leave a comment to let me know how you dealt with that!

 

 

Picture courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitialphotos.net

YOU’RE SO STRICT

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A parents struggle from the moment they have their child is between wanting to ensure their child loves (and even likes) them and enforcing rules that will set the basis for their child to have values and morals that will steer them through life. We have to balance giving them freedom whilst still ensuring their safety. There are no set rules about when a child has the maturity and intelligence to take on additional responsibilities, we just have to use our gut feel as to what is right for our child at that time. Sometimes that means that your kids won’t like you, but hopefully they will respect that you make decisions in their best interests. At the end of the day, we aren’t here to be their friends; we are their parents and have to take that responsibility seriously.

Kids will always play the “You’re so strict! My friends’ mums let them do x,y,z” card and more often than not it isn’t actually the case. Rather, the kids are all bullying their parents into thinking that they are the only ones not allowing their kids freedom. Often if you just talk with the other parents, you will find out that they share a common concern to you.

Years ago I saw a poem called ‘I Loved You Enough’ and it struck a chord with me. I would like to share it with all those parents who have kids who think they are too strict:

 

I LOVED YOU ENOUGH
By Erma Bombeck

 

I Loved You Enough….to ask where you were going,

with whom, and what time you would be home.

 

I Loved You Enough….to insist that you save

your money and buy a bike for yourself even though we

could afford to buy one for you.

 

I Loved You Enough…. to be silent and let

you discover that your new best friend was a creep.

 

I Loved You Enough….to make you take a Milky Way

back to thedrugstore (with a bite out of it)

and tell the clerk,”I stole this yesterday and

want to pay for it.”

 

I Loved You Enough….to stand over you for

two hours while you cleaned your room,

a job that would have  taken 15 minutes.

 

I Loved You Enough….to let you see anger, disappointment

and tears in my eyes.

Children must learn that their parents aren’t perfect.

 

I Loved You Enough….to let you assume the

responsibility for your actions even when the penalties

were so harsh they almost broke my heart.

But most of all,

 

I Loved You Enough….

to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.

Those were the most difficult battles of all.

I’m glad I won them, because in the end,

you won, too.

 

When our kids are adults and are capable of looking after themselves, maybe then I can be their friend, but for now I’m just a Mother who loves her kids and regardless of whether they like it or not, I love them enough to be stricter than they want me to be and I hope that in the future they will thank me for caring, keeping them safe and raising them to be good people.

 

(Photo courtesy of photostock, freedigitalphotos.net)

SCREEN TIME

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In a world driven by technology, the new first world dilemma seems to be how much screen time (ie. TV, ipads, video games etc) is appropriate for kids. I struggle with this as of course I understand the fun and relaxation that comes from using these devices (I’m a closet Candy Crush addict myself!). 

We came up with what we think is a workable rule in our house. During the week, the kids are allowed to watch TV in the morning until 7am, as long as they are already dressed for school. We then put on the news for half an hour to see what is happening in the world.

There is no television or screen time in the afternoons. This time is for homework without distraction and good old-fashioned play time (swimming, playing with the dog, backyard basketball etc). Mind you, most weekday afternoons are crammed with kid’s extra curricular activities so there isn’t a lot of free time outside of homework. 

We record the evening news and watch that after the kids go to bed, so dinnertime and bedtime are distraction free. Before we implemented this rule, I was always nagging the kids to do things to be met with a zombified silence or a mumbled ‘Okay, after this show finishes, it hasn’t got long!’

Friday afternoons, weekends and holidays are time for relaxation and the kids are free to sloth about watching TV or playing video games (although we do encourage them to do some physical fun activities as well).

I know some people argue that by limiting their access to screen time during the week makes them more addicted on the weekends, but I feel that at least the weekdays are productive.

What works in your home?

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Ambro, freedigitalphotos.net)