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.
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?