We live in different times! Children are getting bolder, being offered more choices than they can possibly deal with, being talked to like adults (like adults!! They are not adults!!).
Nothing wrong you say in children being bolder? Giving them choices is showing respect to them?
Sure, that would be fine if they are confident but not brash.
That would be fine if we are providing choices that their minds can comprehend.
Raising a confident and caring child needs an important ingredient –
· A parent who understands that children are… well children,
· A parent who understands that confidence is not the same as recklessness and carefree is not the same as careless
So how are we as parents ensuring our children don’t tip over that precarious balance?
I read this line that says something to the tune of ‘Parents cannot be their child’s friend. Their child will have many friends but only 1 set of parents.
Its really important to understand the sentiment of this statement. It’s great if a parent is their child’s confidante and best friend but something would be wrong if the parent simultaneously doesn’t ignite their child’s conscience. The child’s friends may or may not do that! Children do not know right from wrong and either they learn from within the family or learn from outside. One thing is for certain they need ‘someone’ to guide them on this. As a parent will you be that someone or will you gamble on ‘someone’ else being around?
All fun and no limits would probably make Jack a wrecking ball. Fun must be had, a childhood must be stress-free, playful loving memories must be created but a child must also learn the importance of boundaries and limits; learn about appropriate and acceptable behaviors.
How each parent enables this balance, is each parent’s personal style and one such style is setting some clear ground rules. Unfortunately ‘rules’ as a word has lent itself a negative connotation and more so when applied to children. But really all it means (or should mean) is helping the child to lead life in a certain manner, by introducing and following certain habit forming practices or family traditions to lead a certain ‘way of life’. With a BIG portion of LOVE thrown in ALWAYS.
My dad has been very particular of certain ways of living life. A service background would do that I guess. He’s also a FUN loving person. Somehow he has managed to enforce a ‘certain way of life’ and yet balance it out with loving, fun childhood experiences. The best part is that both mama and papa have presented a united front in this matter. As their child and as a mother now, these are some of my favourite / preferred ones (I have the service blood too!! 🙂 ). Also for hubby and self the rules in the attached image are important to us.
· No locked doors for bedrooms. Like absolutely never. Preference was definitely towards open doors and one can and must learn to knock. One could argue loss of privacy or respect for the child but allow me to argue the positives. Symbolically open doors in house imply general openness, open communication being the main point. Yes you are always in each others faces and you cannot literally shut the door on someone but that is the point. Why shut the door on your loved one, when instead you could face each other and talk? Something we are anyway losing thanks to technology – face to face communication.
· A goodnight kiss was an absolute must. No matter how angry my sister and I were with my father or no matter what had ensued before bedtime, at bedtime he would tuck us into bed and kiss us goodnight. His philosophy – never go to sleep angry. Today I also understand it means forgoing your ego for the sake of the person you love – your child. It also implies that no matter what, the parent will always be there. The upset/angry child probably learns there’s no getting around a big goodnight kiss. 🙂
· Some rules made sense like TV time only on weekends. My sister and I were hooked to the Nadia Comaneci TV series, but it was aired only on a weekday. My father would record the series so that my sister and I could watch it on a Saturday evening.).
· Some rules were just there like a bath before dinnertime (in-fact this rule applied to anyone who stayed over). My father would keep prodding the person till they relented. 🙂
· Being honest was a virtue that was absolutely non negotiable – one time as a child I lied about gargling water (that’s all!!) and with no fuss or anger, I was simply told that as a punishment I would not be allowed to watch our routine Sunday movie at the neighbours house (those were the days when 1 out 10 houses would have a TV and Sunday was a community affair in the house of the person who had a TV).
Upon reflection it seems that the below would help in going a long way in ensuring there is some order in the madness-
· Consistency of rules (you may be on holidays, rules should never). Pretty much the same as how habits are formed.
· Being lovingly firm and not harsh while setting certain boundaries. When I think back on how my father managed to ‘get us to smilingly follow’ his ‘command’ 😉 all I can think of is the song by Queen– ‘it’s a kind of magic..magic’ and my dad has not shared his secret yet. 🙂
· Having reasonable expectations keeping in mind that these are being set ‘for’ the child’s development
Today my father is an indulgent grandfather but that doesn’t stop him from ensuring that certain things are non-negotiable with his ever-expanding brood. A 2-year-old Buttercup locked horns with her grandfather over some food issues (yes we had dinner table rules too like you eat what is served on the table, you finish what you put on your plate, no mobiles on the table etc.) and there was a stalemate between the two with lots of temper tantrums thrown in. Minutes later this same grandfather was getting hugged and kissed by his stalemate opponent.
I’m guessing, house rules are here to stay for generations!! 🙂