I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Start As You Mean To Go On

DH and I are pretty old-fashioned - something which I think will annoy my kids as they get older, but for the moment they just accept. By "old fashioned" I mean that we only own one TV, nobody owns any hand-held games, we don't have any gaming consoles of any kind, we limit their TV/computer time, only I have a facebook account, and it's only in the last month or so that we've let them have their own email accounts. Plus we have an expectation that they will do daily chores without complaint (but some complaint is normal, they're not Stepford children after all), and almost every night of the week we sit down together to eat dinner. I suppose DH and I just have a very firm belief in what we want our core family values to be, and we our best to stick to those values and behave in a manner fitting to them. We do make exceptions, and we do fail at our own plans sometimes - but as a whole we do what we do because it's important to us. We are by no means the perfect family, nor am I trying to preach to you all. I'm just trying to make the point that we chose the way we would live and parent (and in many ways this was an unconscious choice because DH and I are by nature very similar people). So basically, when it comes to our parenting, we made our bed, and we lie in it.

By all accounts our old fashioned-ness makes us totally weird among our friends. .. although to be fair we were probably already considered weird, it's just that this cements our status. I always hear other parents saying they wish their kids spent more time outdoors, that they wish their kids didn't drag their Nintendo DS's around all the time, that they wish they didn't have to cook two meals (one for kids, one for adults.) In short, modern parents seem to complain about a whole lot of things which they themselves introduced in the first place. You started or encouraged the situation, and now you're upset about it? Really?

One of my friends recently told me how proud she was of her 10 year old DD. This DD collected up all the stuff she did not want anymore (namely, an Ipod, a DS, and some other electronic toys she had been given), listed them all on Ebay and sold them. She made enough money to then buy herself an iTouch. The Mum was very impressed with her child's entrepreneurial spirit...and not half an hour later told me that she finds it very hard to talk to her DD, that they all just seem so BUSY all the time, and that sitting down to eat a meal together is a near impossibility because the kids have so many devices on at once.

My take on this is pretty simple - if you created a situation, you live with the consequences of that situation. This woman's DD didn't just suddenly have a roomful of electronic gadgets to sell which got there by osmosis. Nor did she have access to a computer, an account on Ebay, or the means by which to get to the store to buy an iTouch by magic. The parents in this situation allowed it all to happen, as much as they might care to deny they had anything to do with it. So I'm having a hard time understanding what the complaining is all about. You made the situation, you live with the consequences of it.

When the kids were born, we had this battle axe of a maternal and child health nurse who literally sat me down and said, "You can choose to have a life, or you can choose to have the children run your life. Make your choice, and then START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON." I cannot tell you how many times her words have come back to me, to serve as guidance when I needed to make a parenting decision. Whenever I've not been sure about something, I tried to look forward and predict the consequences of a decision - and then I started the situation in the way I wanted the situation to continue. I don't always make correct predictions, kids will be kids after all. Sometimes I thought I could predict where something was leading but made the wrong choice anyway. Now I should say she also said that it's possible to turn a situation around (in this case, night time sleeping)...but how much harder is it to go back and fix things, rather than to just start right from the beginning?

So hear this, parents of my generation - either stop your whining, or fix the situation. Your kids are annoying/irritating/lazy/unhelpful/addicted to TV/insert complaint here because it's a situation you allowed (either explicitly or by inertia) to happen. Of course there are situations where some kids needed to be allowed some behaviours or things for extenuating reasons... but, really, the things you complain about are all things you started in some shape or form. SUCK IT UP or do something about it, just don't come crying to me when little Johnny's eyes are rectangular from staring at his iPhone and your electricity bills are through the roof.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Hear Hear.

Goodness we parent in a similar way!

Anonymous said...

So now I'm compelled to make my second comment ever on this blog (maybe only my 3rd or 4th ever on any blog) and I only have one word - AMEN!

See, I told you you were a great parent ;)!


emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Nadine and Claire, you are both hereby given membership to the Fabulous Parents Club, where parents rule and kids do not have square eyes. :)