I recently read an article that got me thinking: what are our parenting yes’s and no’s? What do we allow our children to do (most of the time) and when do we wear our unpopular parental pants and put our feet down?
After considering those questions, I concluded that Greg and I are strict about a few things and laid back about others. Here is the lowdown:
1. Can I paint, cook, bake, or otherwise make a creative mess?
You want to make dinner without help? Knock yourself out.
You want to bake cupcakes? Absolutely.
You want to paint a portrait of me? Do it!
You want to pour beads all over the kitchen table so you can find the perfect specimens to make a necklace? Sure!
I want you to be creative, even when it makes a mess. You may use anything in the craft closet that I try to keep stocked with supplies, but you must clean up after yourself when you are finished.
(I know…there is always a catch.)
2. Can I have (or go to) a sleepover?
We have heard too many stories of slumber parties gone bad, and we are not taking any chances.
(The kids know better than to ask because the answer will be no 100% of the time.)
3. Can I set my own curfew?
You tell me when you are going to be home, and you had better be home by that time. If you are not going to make it back by that time, you will call or a text to let me know exactly why you will be late and what time you will be walking in the door. If you are late without letting me know, I will be happy to set your curfew from now on.
(This is mostly for the older boys who come and go on their own. If we have to drive them places, they get to come home on our schedule. Because let’s face it: we are old and do not like to go out late.
So far, it has worked like a charm. They feel like we trust them, but that trust comes with accountability. We have not had one problem with them abusing our trust in this way. *Knock on wood.* )
4. Will you take me out for ice cream (or buy me a variety of other things), just because you love me?
If I had a quarter for every time you asked me to buy ice cream, I would be a rich woman. How did you get the idea that I should go to the McDonald’s drive-through every day after school, just to buy you a cone or a sundae?
“But mom, we survived seven hours of boring school. That deserves a treat.”
That is called life, dear children of mine. It deserves nothing but a trip home and a snack from the fridge.
“But our friends’ parents buy them ice cream.”
Good for them. I am mean, remember? I will buy you ice cream when I want to buy ice cream. If you ask me to buy it, I will say no 99.9% of the time. Please get that through your head.
And no, I will not get you a candy bar or toy at the store, either. Save your money to buy it for yourself, pal.
(P.S. I love you.)
5. Can I have my friends over?
Have them all over; every week if you would like. We will provide food and treats as often as you will host a gathering. If you don’t want to have them over, feel free to go hang out with them somewhere else.
Friendships are important, and we treat them as such.
6. I am bored! Will you provide me with activities to do?
Unless you would like a list of chores, you are on your own, kid. You are perfectly capable of entertaining yourself. If you are not, it is a life skill that you need to learn, and I will let you figure it out on your own.
Boredom is where imagination is born. If you complain about that, I would be happy to give you the list of chores that we already spoke of.
7. Can I help you, dear mother?
Why, yes. Yes, you can!!
I threw that one in there just to make sure you were paying attention. If I actually heard that phrase, I would know without question that I had died and gone to heaven.
8. Will you give me money to go out with my friends?
Life is not free, little one. If you are over 12 years old, you no longer receive an allowance, which means that you are on your own for money. We will not pay you for chores because we feel like you should contribute to the good of the family. (Except for money chores which go above and beyond the call of duty and are checked for quality and completion before we pay you a dime.) We will not pay you for grades because we expect you to do your best in school without being paid for your efforts.
So go to work. Teach piano lessons (Jordan), work for Dad at his office, babysit. If you do not work and, therefore, do not have money when you want to go out with friends, too bad; so sad. That is life.
9. Can I leave my room a mess?
You must clean it every Saturday, down to the vacuuming and dusting. That way I know it is not growing mold or harboring a mouse. During the week, I will try not to bug you about the condition of your personal space because I have given up on that particular aspect of household cleanliness.
If you would like to throw your clean clothes on the floor with your dirty ones, go right ahead. That will give me plenty of reasons to snicker when you go to school in dirty clothes because you can’t remember which ones are clean.
If you would like to pile your papers all over every surface, I will let you stress when you can’t find your keys and wallet that are hiding below the piles.
If you would like to spend your precious time searching for things that you could have easily found if you had put them away, more power to you.
I will keep your door closed until Saturday, at which time you will clean the entire room. Again. Maybe someday you will learn that it is MUCH easier to keep it clean in the first place.
While this is not an exhaustive list, you can imagine that we are not always the most popular parents on the block because we have certain expectations of our kids. Mostly, we expect them to learn to be good humans, and that comes with a variety of yes’s and no’s.
Do you ever worry that you are saying yes (or no) too often? What are your parental yes’s and no’s? Let me know in the comments section below.