This parenting thing is fun, wonder-filling, wild, heart-probing. And it is hard. Just plain hard.
Now that I am the parent of all pre-teens and teens I can see that parenting changes once you are in the pre-teen stage. When your kids are infants, pre-school age and elementary school age, parenting is more physical, you are taking care of them, protecting them from harm, etc. But during the pre-teen/teen years, there is a shift. Parenting becomes more psychological. Every decision requires you to look at the big picture and see how your decision is going to affect the well-being of your child, not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. That may be a sweeping generalization but it does feel like every decision has to be analyzed to the gills before it is set in stone. And then when it is set in stone, waves of second guessing accompanies it.
I have never been one for rules. We have basic rules in our family like, be kind to one another, show respect to your elders, etc. But rules regarding t.v. watching or bedtime have not been part of our family culture. My reason for this is that I have seen many children sneak around to get out from those rules. I didn’t want to set my kids up to sneak behind my back so I don’t push too hard on the rules. In the past, this has worked well for us. We let our kids watch t.v. and we don’t set time limits. My kids. in the past, have not watched that much t.v. They spent much of their time playing outside or playing imaginary games in their rooms. T.V. watching just wasn’t an issue. Video games were handled in the same way. There is a rule about bedtimes but I like to call it an understanding that every child is in their room at 9:00 but they do not have to go to sleep at that time. They can stay up as long as they want, doing anything they want as long as it is quiet, they stay in their room and they wake up by 8:00 the next morning. If the next morning is too hard for them then they need to adjust what time they go to sleep. Again, this has worked well for us.
But now that my children are getting older I can see some bad habits settling in. I have tried talking to them about it, I have tried modeling better choices for them to see, I have tried everything I can think of short of installing rules and it isn’t helping. I think my only option for this moment in time is to put some rules in place, and can I say that this breaks my heart? This just seems counter-intuitive to me. This just seems plain wrong but I can see how these bad habits could possibly harm their emotional well-being in the future. I don’t want this to happen, either. Hence, the last resort of rules.
I told them of my intentions yesterday and the receiving did not go well. Open the floodgates for the second-guessing and doubts. I told them that we were going to try this new lifestyle for a while, give it a trial run and see how life is after a period of time then we would go from there.
Did I already say that I don’t like this one little bit?