My sisters youngest son, my precious nephew, was over yesterday. He was here to play with my youngest son. The two of them have the funniest little friendship, constant chattering and bickering. The best of friends. Sometimes.
I was upstairs, cuddled up in my bed with my laptop, watching the Dr. Phil episode with my friend Jessica. It was the episode about the ridiculous Mommy Wars. And Jessica gave an incredibly strong voice to us SAHM’s. BUT. I’m not going to go off to this war.
I kept hearing my son whining. And yelling. At his cousin.
But, I was far too busy to go investigate. No one was crying. The only kid making noise was mine. And besides, the big kids were downstairs with them and if there was a major problem, someone would have inevitably told me.
Seems that the big television was on. In the room where everyone hangs out. The big kids were done with all of their homework. So they were allowed to watch Nick or one of those channels.
And my nephew was zombified in front of the television.
He wouldn’t play. He wouldn’t talk. I’m not sure he was even blinking or breathing.
He couldn’t get enough of television. And refused to play with my son.
Which leads me to this.
It’s one thing to have rules. Regulations. Structure. Regimented strictness. That the kids have to abide by.
It’s another thing to keep them away completely or to treat it like an apple dangling in front of a horse, from things like television, video games and junk food. Stuff that isn’t traditionally “good” for them.
These things become the forbidden fruit. Kids are going to find a way to eat that apple when their maker isn’t looking. Yes, my darling sister, I’m talking to you.
Maybe I don’t have structure. Maybe the rules in my home are lax. Maybe I’m a lazy parent.
But my kids don’t feel like they are being held hostage either.
Because they are allowed to do things, it doesn’t seem as interesting to them. Does that make sense?
They don’t go to their friends house and eat all their junk food, like I used to do as a kid. Sugar cereals and candy were rarely brought into the house. So I would binge eat at my friends houses on Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, Butterfingers…WHATEVER. And one of my friends was not allowed to have me come over anymore. Because I would eat them out of junk food house and home.
My kids, as long as their homework is done, can pretty much do whatever they want. Except for smoking crack and drinking Jack in their bedrooms!
The television is always on at my house. Sometimes the kids watch it. Other times, it’s just an energy drain. Video games are played like crazy. Computers are always online. Kids are constantly eating, playing, fighting, making noise, creating messes…wreaking havoc of one type or another, here at my house. And that…is (sometimes) OK with me. It’s when they don’t clean up the chaos and havoc created messes that I start getting pissed.
But my little nephew. Who, by the way, is seriously the cutest thing in the entire world. He is like a little toy. And I absolutely love him. So much.
Every time he comes to my house. He tells me that he isn’t allowed to do ANYTHING at his house. EXCEPT play.
And you may roll your eyes and say to yourselves sarcastically, oh that poor kid.
But I kept thinking to myself. Yeah. My poor nephew. Who I want to eat. Is having resentment issues with his toys.
And that to me, my sister, is sad. Go ahead and tell me all the things you thing I do wrong. I’m very aware of my mistakes and my short comings.
But dude. Loosen up. You are doing to him worse than your parents did to you.
I tell you this with nothing more than a heart FULL of love. For you and my nephews.
Where do you draw the line, my friends, between too strict and too lax?
What are your parenting strategies to keep your kids feeling like there is structure and rules yet not feeling like they are in a prison?