This is a lesson my family is challenged with. All of us.
Case in point: sometimes, kids take a mile when they’re given an inch. I know this isn’t earth-shattering news in the world of parenting, but there you have it.
(And by default, a younger sibling is watching, and copying, much of the behaviour. Younger siblings then push their own boundaries, as if they’re testing to see whether the same rules will apply to them, too.)
I have spent an inordinate amount of time processing a situation that occurred in our family, trying to learn from it. The good news is, after an ugly situation that caused everyone, but especially the adults in this house, a major headache over a recent weekend, I gave myself a chance to cool down for 24 hours. Then, at the dinner table the following night, I waited for the right topic to surface which, incidentally, my teen introduced himself, and I took the opportunity to take the reigns.
Naturally, I was challenged in the way that tweens and teens are so capable of. But I would have none of it.
Lucky for me I had concrete examples of both praise-worthy and consequence-inducing behaviour to illustrate my point.
It worked. The child stopped talking and I personally watched the penny drop.
And no one was yelling or freaking out or stomping off. 😉
We gave a kid an inch which was respected during the week.
When we gave another inch on the weekend (which, theoretically, shouldn’t have happened but one parent wasn’t on the ball and the other absent), the kid took a mile. At a most inopportune time, too.
I will not have it. If I can’t trust my kids to step up to their promises, or respect the basic rules in this house, then their teen years will be anything but pleasant. And I don’t want that for either of my kids. They will have enough challenges to overcome without having a crappy household to live in where they’re constantly at odds with their parents. Right?
I’ll do my part. They better do their part.
The good news is that they’re both starting to notice that mom means it, mom follows through, mom rarely makes exceptions but when she does, they better follow those rules because mom will enforce the consequences.
This is exhausting for mom…
My boy hates the word consequences. But he’s learned the hard way that mom doesn’t give two hoots whether it’s weekend or time off or whatever plans are on the books. If he screws up there’s a consequence. (I had to learn how to do this, too.)
To be clear, I hate most of this stuff as much as he does. I hate to be the rule maker, insist on consistency from the whole family, enforce rules, dish out consequences and, if required, punishments, and all that shitty stuff. I hate it but I hate the alternative more. The alternative is that the kids will continue to take a mile when given an inch.
And really, I do want to be able to give an inch when it’s due. They’re essentially good kids, and we enjoy it when they enjoy themselves.
We all enjoy our family time when we’re all in harmony! 🙂
But this parenting thing is a two-way street.
For now, I think we’re on the right path. It’s sometimes a bumpy path, but we’re trekking along. And frankly, I’m learning as much as they are.
Noted to add:
I find it interesting that after a serious talk with clear and concise outlines, expectations and consequences for infractions, the kids are very pleasant to be around.
We’re all more relaxed.
I don’t know if this is unique to my family, given that my kids’ see their world in very literal terms, but this system appears to be working for us.
For example, the rule “no Fortnite during the school week” isn’t loved, but it’s mostly respected. When I allowed him an hour one school night with the expectation to terminate after exactly one hour, he rose to that occasion ❤ knowing the consequence for breaking that rule was to have the weekend privilege removed.
I don’t enjoy dishing out such harsh rules on the one hand, but it’s a necessary evil. So, because he’s a good boy ❤ and met the expectation, I didn’t have to be the enforcer-disciplinarian-consequence mom. He got to keep his weekend and play Fortnite. That part was bonus for both of us (and we all get along much better when everyone is happy).
Make no mistake, I would have succeeded in keeping him from logging on to his game had he disrespected that hour. It would have been a horrible, terrible weekend for all of us, with whining, complaining and attitude (and tears, mostly mine).
My kids understand:
mom isn’t screwing around. The consequence is clear, and mom will enforce it.
It’s very, very hard for me. Do they know how hard it is for the parents?
Probably not. And that’s ok.
Parenting is exhausting, but when I see the fruitful outcome of our combined efforts, I can sit back and enjoy the kids so much more.
How is this parenting when rules are broken working for you? Do you find yourself giving in, or up, and regretting it later, or do you manage with a loosely defined consistency?