Parenting: Again?

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I remember when I was a teenager I thought, I am never going to do that to my kids.

I am going to be understanding and listen and I am not going to yell at them.

I will let them eat whatever and whenever they want.

Haha, hahahaha, hahahahaha!

Yea, I didn’t hold true to myself in those sentiments. I actually find myself at a standstill trying to balance between, being a loving parent and using parental authority.

We don’t want to take away, stifle, abuse, be passive, ignore, be too strict, lose control, have disrespectful kids, lazy kids, we want them to be kids, we don’t want them to hate us, rob them of lessons, we want them to work hard, we want them to be good people, we want them to learn and grow from their mistakes, the wants and concerns are a contridicting, confusing mess.

The other day, I read that parents nowadays are not addressing their kids negative behavior because they are trying to find the root cause of that negative behavior. They are acting as therapists instead of parents. The author, who is a family therapist, says we should not be acting as a therapist to our kids. We are their parents and should address the disrespect immediatly. He told a story about a kindergartner who was calling his mom a “bitch” instead of the mom correcting her sons disrespectful behavior, she felt sorry for her son because he was so distraught. He called her the name and he got the sympathy.

Parents, including myself, are becoming afraid to exercise parental authority over their kids, for fear of doing something wrong. Most of these parents are trying to avoid the parenting “dislikes” their own parents did with them, so they are throwing everything out, the bad, along with the good.

You would think being in school for Marriage and Family Studies would make it easier for me to navigate through this parenting maze, but it doesn’t. In fact it makes things more confusing. In the same day, I can read an article about how we need to listen to our kids and be willing to negotiate with them and then turn around and read another article about how we do not need to explain ourselves to our kids and they need to be respectful no matter what.

So…we need to listen to them and be willing to negotiate…but we don’t need to explain ourselves to them or negotiate? They need to just be okay with what we tell them, because we are their parents. But we need to let them express their opinions so that they can learn how to express themselves and develop.

I think…

I believe…

what they are saying is there needs to be a balance and every situation is going to warrant a different handling technique.

For example: Here is a real situation that happened in my family recently.

My kids are all out of school because of the Corona Virus. They had to suddenly leave their friends and their normal routines and lock themselves in the house, avoiding contact with anyone outside our family. My boys started to fill their time with the PS4, NON-STOP, from around 3pm to 4-5am my boys were on the PS4. The reason they didn’t start earlier was because they were recovering from the all nighter they had just pulled. Dan and I let this go on for about month. We felt bad that they were not able to see their friends and we are also preoccupied with this virus and the effect it was having on the whole world. We knew the gaming was a problem and we knew it wasn’t healthy for them, but we let it go because they were stuck in a house and their whole world had just been turned upside down. They “claimed” they were finishing homework and they did do their chores, it is easy to keep a room clean when you are only sleeping in it.

Then…enter Aricka starting school again. Enter all the parenting articles and talks she has to read about parenting.( I am taking classes from a church college so I get the religious views and the secular views.) As I am reading a talk from a very respected spiritual church leader, I have this vision of my boys sitting infront of their PS4’s and their souls being sucked into the gaming system without their knowledge. It was like a scene from Harry Potter where the Dementors suck the happiness out of the wizards. (I know, a little extreme but that was my vision while reading this talk.) I have learned in my life to not ignore such “visions”. I needed to address the problem immediately while the impression was fresh. After talking with Dan, we both decided the PS4 gaming marathons needed to change. I was ready to throw all the gaming systems in the street but luckily I married a man who isn’t so “all or none” and he came up with a system to help the kids learn how to balance their time. We introduced a 1:1 ratio system. They did an hour of something productive or “healthy” and that would “bank” them an hour of “free time” where they can choose to play the PS4 if they want to.

Now, we had been letting them play non-stop without a word for a month. And now out of the blue, we are telling them they can’t play unless they have “banked” some time from a list we came up with.

Have you ever seen an intervention on an addict? Insert that reaction here…(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) They were not happy and turned into total different people. The more they yelled and cried the more Dan and I knew this needed to be done long ago.

After we talked them down from the ledge, we let them have input on the “healthy activities” list. We talked to them about what was expected of them, we let them know the consequences if the expectations were not met. We did listen to all their concerns and answered their questions, but ultimately, Dan and I were the ones who made the final decisions. We found a balance of listening to our kids and “negotiating” to a point, but in the end we exercised our parental authority. We kicked out the “I feel sorry their world has been turned upside down” and started to remember that our kids are more resilient then we were treating them.

We have been doing this 1:1 thing for about 4 days now and it has been working out exactly how I imagined it. The kids are talking to each other more and talking to us more. We have gotten a lot of family projects done together and they are doing things that they have been putting off…like their school work. Yea, they weren’t doing it. This system is living and breathing, it is changing and evolving over time, with the help from our kids.

So does balancing make more sense?

You are the ultimate decision maker, the authority, but letting the kids help you with executing the plan or evolving it can help them feel apart of the decision. If they feel part of the decision then they are more likely to get on board.

May the odds be ever in your favor. Happy parenting.

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