Let your children punish themselves – no, really

When it comes to parenting, there is no right or wrong answer. Most people are just taking it one day at a time, and when something comes up that they don’t know how to handle they usually have people they can turn to for advice. Recently, a friend of mine posted on Facebook looking for advice on a parenting issue; here is her post (with her permission and names changed to protect the innocent):

Parenting moment: I've been a broken record over the years about putting the Nerf guns away and not leaving them out in the yard to be rained, snowed or peed on. And, it's gotten a little better, but a pair of guns has been in the yard all week. I'm trying to be patient, let them make mistakes, but hate to see expensive toys neglected. So, I picked them up and told Voldemort and will tell Malfoy this afternoon that they are going to goodwill today. Voldemort is in full on meltdown! Trying really hard not to back down. Should I let him buy them back with his Xmas money? Here's the gut-wrencher: he's not totally upset on his behalf. He's upset because it's the favorite gun of our neighbor who likes to come over and play with the boys. Hmmmmm....

My responses:

If they get ruined, you may take the position of not buying more for them. If they want more they are free to use their money to buy them. Take yourself out of the argument and hand the problem back to them.

(she asked for more on this)

The point is to make it their issue, not yours. You tell them of the consequences ahead of time and can then be a support system when they jack it all up! They will most likely be pissed at themselves. You give them two choices – leave them out to rot or take them inside. The choice is theirs and it is no longer your problem.

Before you hear the rest of my thoughts, I will tell you that there were a plethora of competing viewpoints and parenting styles.  None were wrong, just different than mine.

Here are my thoughts on the issue:

We need to let our kids mess up and EXPECT it to happen.  When you expect these things to happen it lessens the anger response.  You just think to yourself, “Oh, ok, that’s the screw up I was expecting and I don’t need to get all worked up.”  These are learning / teaching moments that you actually want to happen. Children must learn that shit happens and that there are natural consequences when shit happens, especially when it is their fault. Do not rob your children of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to figure it out on their own. Quit inserting yourself in their teaching moments. Get out of their way and be happy that you don’t have to get pissed off at the situation; this is what you expected to happen! As my friend wisely said, “they aren’t trying to be assholes.”  

You have enough on your shoulders already, let them handle their own mistakes.  Please don’t be the punishment that they can bring on themselves.  This isn’t true for all mistakes, obviously, but for these smaller infractions, let them be the cause of their sorrow and you be the love and support.  The end result will likely be the same - no more nerf guns. The difference is that instead of the punisher, you can be the safe place they come to for comfort while they learn their lesson.   

If you need help dealing with parenting issues, I would love to talk to you! Reach out today

Why you aren’t jacking up your kids unless you really are

Unless you are doing something blatantly awful like beating up your kids or leaving them home alone while you jet off to Vegas, you are probably doing a fine job of raising your kid/s.I only have one child so I have plenty of time to wonder how I am totally screwing this up.  I think if I had a bunch of kids I wouldn’t have time to worry about all this screwing up nonsense.  

I’m not sure if it’s just me, it might be, but I don’t want my kid scheduled into classes, clubs, activities every day of the week and on weekends where I am made to drive all over the state.  If you are a parent with a child and you both like that lifestyle, more power to you.  I happen to like the fact that my son isn’t scheduled out the wazoo.  He’s in school from 7:45 until 4 or 5 pm.  I think even that is a bit much but he loves his school so it’s all good.

I tend to feel guilty when he shuts himself in the game room playing his video games. He plays too many video games and I let him.  Horrible by today’s standards, right?  What would society (other parents) say?!?!  I don’t know, but I do know he is also having fun and I did the same thing when I was a kid.  He also gets almost straight A’s.  When I was a kid we entertained ourselves with videogames, MTV, movies, and TV dinners.  If we were bored we made up games to play, burnt bugs with a magnifying glass (sorry bugs), had mud pie wars and ran around the neighborhood.  

Things I have done to jack up my son:

  • Allow him to play all day on the XBOX
  • Shamed him (accidently but still…)
  • For sure I taught him swear words (I can’t believe I fucking did that, but I did.)
  • Not enough veggies and fruits and way too many chips and ice cream.  
  • I didn’t believe him and then found out he told the truth.  Sigh….
  • Had one too many cocktails in front of him
  • Fought with my husband and for sure he heard

(side bar - my mom told me once that my dad came home after too much boozing and peed in the closet cuz he thought it was the bathroom, hahaa, I have NOT done that)

So if you are a parent who spends quality time with your kid/s, gives them lots of love and hugs and kisses, is there for them when they need you, well you are one awesome human being.  They don’t HAVE to have a phone.  If you are considering it, call me so I can get The Phone Contract out to you asap.  My son’s job is to try hard in school, be a good friend, have fun and be a nice human.  That’s it.  He doesn’t have to be numero uno at a team sport, he just has to play if he wants to and enjoy the game.

There are way too many kids ending up in hospitals and inpatient facilities because of the huge amounts of anxiety put on them in school, sports, social settings, you name it.  The super sad part is that often all the beds are taken.  Let’s just encourage our kids to be kids, to be who they are and we love them no matter what.  If they get an F, we love them.  If they strike out, we hug them for trying.  If they no longer want to play when the seasons over, they don’t have to sign up again.  

If you have a list like mine, congratulations, you are a real live person who makes mistakes.  Own your shit, apologize when you jack it up and move on.  It’s called being a good role model when you haven’t been a good role model, get it?  Let’s all stop pretending that certain parents have it all together cuz I’m here to tell you it’s total bullshit.

If you are brave enough (and you don’t have to be!), go ahead and put your list of jacking it all up in the comments section.  Let’s all bond over it.  Or, if you’d rather do it in private, call me and we can chat.  No more feeling like we are alone in this parenting business, the only one confused and sometimes freaked out.  Cuz I really think we are ALL a part of that group.