10. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Dirty sink = happy kids…or something like that? Ok first, dirty dishes in the sink gives me the hee bee gee bee’s (sp?). Second, if those who follow this mantra are suggesting that I play with my kids instead of cleaning the dirty dishes, I would just be thinking about the dirty dishes the entire time and my kids would sense my distraction, get mad at me for not being focused and they’d probably wind up in therapy. Or something. AND third, if not the most obvious, I’m going to have to clean the dishes later anyway (because I’m the mom), so I might as well just clean the damn dirty dishes in the first place. Does this not make sense?
9. Little to no screen time. Ok let’s see. Off the top of my head I’ll give you three reasons why tv is not the enemy: Spanish, force, and sharing all thanks to Dora, Blaze, and Caillou. BOOM! A foreign language, physics, and social skills. Three things I certainly wouldn’t be able to teach my kids if they were watching me make dinner instead of watching tv. All they’d get from my “show” is frustration and likely some foul language. And, yes, I know that a “quiet time activity” is the most cognitively sound alternative yadiddy da dat da, but please. I have three boys. There is no such thing as a quiet time activity.
8. Don’t ever yell at your kids. Sometimes we need to lose our shit. Sometimes our kids are terrors and they need to know that if they act like a-holes we.are.going. to.lose.our.shit.
7. Catch them every time they fall. Maybe you call it helicopter parenting? I call it exhaustive parenting, if you want a fancier term. I can’t be there to rescue my kids every time they are hurt or sad or in a pickle. It’s exhausting. It’s too much. And if we give them the space to fix their own problems, well then I think we are doing our job.
6. No junk food allowed. Ok, let me ask you: What do you remember about being a kid? Thoughts of Lucky Charms, Orange Fanta, fruit roll-ups, and the ice cream truck probably swirl in happy little clouds above your head. Yes, moderation is key. But denying it completely will just make them want it more. And you know what happens when those types of kids go off to college….. just sayin’.
5. Make them say they’re sorry. This is one “rule” that never sat right with me. Like pointy toed shoes, it just doesn’t feel right. Shouldn’t kids say they are sorry if they are really sorry? Forcing a kid to apologize on the spot is our way of moving forward from the uncomfortable situation at the expense of the children in question. Maybe if we gave them space to think about what they did wrong instead of immediately jumping in and saying ‘You apologize right this minute, mister!!’, then it would be more authentic? Less forced? I don’t really know the answer, but I’ll test my new method – maybe removing child from situation, giving them a “look” with no words, and seeing if the remorse sets in. Anyway, maybe this is just me being lazy, but I’ll let you know how it goes.
*Sidenote, one of the most powerful ways to teach your kids how to apologize is to apologize yourself. When you are being a B because your frittata burned in the oven and you freak out on your kid, it’s okay, actually it’s not just okay it’s a GREAT idea to say you’re sorry. Ya know, after the smoke has cleared – no pun intended.
4. Make them share. Sometimes in life, it just feels good to have your own crap. When the next hot new Disney movie comes out and Target graciously dedicates an entire aisle to mini plastic figurines of the ENTIRE freaking cast, I’ll take one of each. The less fighting there is, well then, the less cabernet I’ll have to drink.
3. Keep them safe…. always. Ok, yes this is one of the main responsibilities of parenting: to love your children and keep them safe. But sometimes, we have to let them do things that are outside of our own comfort zones. Yes, we can all curse the high deductible plans that are taking over the world, and the accumulation of emergency room bills that are beginning the challenge your stack of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, but we also have to trust the intuition of our kids. You made them, but they are still 50% another person. Maybe that other half always wanted to climb mountains. If it were up to me, I’m convinced we would still be living in the dark.
2. No bribing. I don’t understand why not? Let me exemplify with a snippet from my life 5 years ago: “Here, you sit in a room with 25 kids, teach them reading, writing, math, science and social studies, create meaningful lessons, differentiate instruction, communicate with their parents, and grade this stack of 5 page essays and guess what, we’ll send you money in mail!!!” (insert high leg kick). How is that scenario any different than when we tell our children, “If you eat all your broccoli, you will get CUPCAKE! YAY!!!”? A task and a reward. It’s a real life lesson. Call it “positive reinforcement” or “incentivizing” if you will, but you guys, it’s bribing. And it’s fine.
1. Be guilty. It’s not a rule per se, but we all seem to follow this way of thinking. Don’t let all the crap you think you didn’t do right bring you down. We all parent differently and it doesn’t boil down to right and wrong. NO. You see, it’s because our kids are all different and so are we, the parents. And parenting just isn’t that black and white. But I’m pretty sure that if you hug your kids everyday, make them know they are loved, then all of those other “rules” are just……fluff.
So yeah. What rules are you breaking?