Family 2015

Family 2015

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Worthless Rules

I have mentioned before that my kids watch t.v.  And they play (or do schoolwork) on the computer.  And we have a wii.  My kids also have bikes, a trampoline, great imaginations and love to read.  I don't really have strict rules about their "screen time", although if I think it's been excessive on any particular day, I will tell them to shut off all the screens and go do something else. 

I say all that to say I'm pretty laid back about it.  Actually, I tend to be pretty laid back about most things, which is partly my personality and partly my parenting creed. :)

Let me 'splain.

I have noticed, over the years, whether it's in my own life, my kids or other people; that the moment we make a big deal out of something, it becomes a big deal.  I know, profound.  But rules with no wiggle room, with no context, I think they're not good.  I think they push whoever is governed by them to try to find a way OUT.  It's just human nature.  So, I tend to ask myself when thinking about parenting or really anything in my life - "why is this rule here?"  If there's no good reason, I get rid of it.  Here's a good example.

Carter started going to school in the first grade (he was homeschooled for Kindergarten) and he had fallen into a routine of watching a cartoon in the morning before we homeschooled.  Then, when he started going to school for some reason, I put in place the "no t.v. in the mornings before school" rule.  Why?  Because that was my rule as a kid - probably because my Dad was usually still sleeping in the room right next to the t.v. - no real forethought on my part, just bam, no more t.v. in the mornings for you.  Suddenly, I'm struggling to get him ready for school, he's hard to wake up, and then he sits and stares at the dining room wall while he eats his breakfast and I rush around helping the other kids get ready.  One day it hit me that I was doing it - imposing a rule with no real purpose.  Why should he stare at the wallpaper when he could watch Spongebob while he ate his cereal?  No reason.  At all.  So, I changed the rule and bam - easiest kid in the world to get ready for school.

It all goes back to relationship in my mind.  My goal in this parenting thing is to raise kids who know how to make smart choices, who know how to THINK for themselves.  I don't think I do that effectively when I just say, "Do this because."

I think that more than a "sage on the stage" I should be a "guide by their side."

How about you?


  1. Ah, I love my little daily dose of 'Von sanity. :)
    One of the best parenting mottos I ever heard was from Tom Hereford. He said, "Pick your battles". I do that. And it has helped tremendously.
    And I totally agree that forbidden fruit is the most appealing. Sure, some things HAVE to be forbidden. But I really examine my reasons for the rules I make. If it's not a safety issue, or something that goes against our family's values, then what is my reason, and is it worth fighting about?
    Lou was obsessed the the bar of soap I use to wash my face. It's just a bar of Dove. I realized that my "DON'T TOUCH MAMA'S SOAP!" rule was less about her safety, and more about, "It's MY soap." I decided to let her have access to it. She played with it for about an hour TOTAL, and hasn't been interested since.
    I guess I just don't have the energy to enforce a Torah-length system of rules.

  2. Agreed, there are absolutes. I just think they're way overdone. Sheesh, what fun is life if everything is black and white?? No thanks. The soap story is funny-I've probably done stuff like that 1000 times. We parents can be so silly...

  3. Sometimes I say no and then two minutes later I think.. why did I say no? Dang it, now I have to stick with it or come up with a good line like "Ok NOWWWW we can do it" hahaha
    I seem to be parenting a lot like you Yvonne.. pretty laid back, not making a big deal about anything except for a huge amount of praise when they make the RIGHT choice!
    My sister just told me about a parenting series called "Loving Your Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk this clip is great:

  4. above...(from Melissa)

  5. Melissa - I love Danny Silk!!!

  6. Growing up in a staunch Catholic family with ultra strict parents, I turned out pretty much like them as far as rules go...having a lot of them and not really thinking about why...but they HAD to be enforced! The Gestapo comes to mind when I remember how I was! One diff though, the Holy Spirit and letting God be the boss of me. I can identify with many of the stories told here and I laugh at each one as I read them, remembering similar happenings in our family. It took me quite a while to shake off some of those hangers-on rules and in the meantime three of my girls almost growed up (as we say in Texas lingo). But something has changed even more, of late, though. Not because they are older, not because I don't see the need for the rules anymore. I am finally learning to fly. Is. 40:31 flying. Walking to the edge of a cliff and jumping off because the Lord told you to changes you. I wouldn't suggest any cliff jumping unless you are sure of the Wind under your wings. But this flyin thing....I like it! I've learned that almost ALL the things I used to get upset about were not really that important...and everything doesn't have to be done MY way. I've also learned that not worrying, especially about all the small stuff, allows me to relax and have FUN with my girls..and my hubby. I have finally come to be the parent I always wanted to be and I don't have any remorse that it took so long. I'm just glad I got here. Praise His Name! I'm not perfect but much, much happier.....and so is everyone else here! Persevere, you can get there too, unless, of course, you already are.