Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Permissive vs Authoritative....or just too many rules?

I've always thought myself to be fairly reasonable at this parenting thing.  I don't always get it right, but I sure try my best!  I worked super hard in our early days to raise my little people in such a way that they would become amazing big people.  And so far we've managed that.  But over this weekend my daughter and a friend we were with seemed to think we have way more rules than anyone else they know.  I take that with a grain of salt when coming from my children.  Inevitably "everyone" ends up being a small handful at best.  But when another adult tells you you have more rules than anyone they know, you begin to wonder.  Am I being too strict?  Do they know what all the other households are like?  Are they just comparing themselves with you and feeling intimidated?  Should I reconsider our rules and standards?  What should I change?

I've done a lot of second and double guessing this weekend.

I would always characterise myself (and my husband) as authoritative parents.  I don't believe in a permissive parenting style.  My children need far more guidance than that style would provide.  But we are not authoritarian either because our interactions are characterised by loving concern and desire to build and grow strong, positive relationships with our children.

We do have some not-negotiables in our home. 
  • We require our children to help with the dishes each night.  I cook, DH does the laundry and the kids do the dishes.  That's how we roll and I do not think it unreasonable for each person to be doing something that contributes to making our home work. 
  • Our kids are expected to attend Life Groups, and church on Sunday.  Faith is important to us and this is part of how we express that faith.  And so we worship together. 
  • Our kids have a set bed time until they are 18.  It changes as they get older, but it is still a feature until they are adults.
  • We expect our kids to do their homework and turn in assignments on time, having put in their best effort.
Four rules.  Four things that we believe are important to develop character, faith, good habits and productive citizens.  I absolutely believe I have the right to set high expectations that are reasonable and that I need to support my children to live within those expectations.  Because my high expectations require them to be kind, generous, polite and respectful no matter who they are interacting with.  Because I expect them to try their very best and dream big and fulfil the plans God has for them.  Because I believe community is so, so important and  that it comes with rights and responsbilities.

Are not-negotiables hard work?  Absolutely!  But it's so worth it.  I have these three amazing young people in my home that are just so incredible.  These are the children I was so petrified would become teenagers that I asked God to bring the second-coming forward to the time before they would hit their teens.  Our experience with Terrible Two's and Three's was enough to scare me senseless.  But these children of mine are such a gift to the teen-wary parent.  I am so glad God ignored those prayers of a naiive littles-loving mother.  I can honestly say I prefer having teens. They wrestle about bed times and doing dishes when they have homework.  Let's face it, I didn't want to cook for all those years when I had homework, but community requires responsibility even when you think you're too busy.  And we all appreciate even-tempered well-rest people in our house, rather than unreasonable, tired people.

Would I sacrifice having the end in mind and being intentional about getting there?  You know, I think not.  As I look at my not-negotiables I am content that they serve important purposes beyond the immediate goals.  Sorry Miss Mischief, bed time stays until October.

What are your not-negotiables?  What end are you intentionally aiming for with your children?


Renee Wilson said...

I think those rules are fair and not over the top at all. My parents also made us help with the dishes after every meal and after a while it just became second nature. We also did things like make our bed everyday. Such small things that have a big impact. I don't think you have too many rules at all. My kids are very young still. At this stage our rules are more like - no picking your nose at the table :/ #teamIBOT

EssentiallyJess said...

I think that's really fair. Our kids have chores, thought he younger two less than the older two because of age. They could probably do more admittedly.
I wouldn't worry about what others think. It sounds to me like you're doing a lot right.

Crunchie's Mum said...

My kids are now in their twenties and are both well educated, kind, caring people who are contributing to society including volunteering for various causes.

We had more rules than 'everyone else' as well. They were expected to help around home and earn money not just get hand outs. We did relax the bed time and homework rules when we considered they were old enough to realize the consequences for a late night or not doing homework until the last minute.

Interestingly they were talking about this compared to their friends the other day. Each have friends who received a lot of love but not much guidance. These are the kids who are still expecting their parents to pay for everything.

Ultimately you are your kids parent not their friend - its much tougher to be a parent.

Tracy said...

Thank you for your encouragement, ladies. Parenting is one of those things that is so much about your individual style and beliefs and how that matches with your kids' personalities.

Crunchie's Mum - I knew I wouldn't be the only one with rules and structure...it's nice to actually hear it, on the tail end of my little crisis of confidence!