Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sacrifices Part II

Okay, I want to preface this Part II with the following: First, I in no way intended to imply that letting your children watch inappropriate television is grounds to have them removed from your care – at least not with the examples that I used. Second, I am not a Saint – I freely admit that I have made my share of bad parenting decisions. Finally, I am IN NO WAY trying to tell people what to do. These are my thoughts only. I am not planning to run for Congress and force my idea of parenting on ANYONE.  Those disclaimers being made…

Sacrifices Part II – The Sacrifices We Make Our Kids Make

        Firstly, I use the word “sacrifices” in this context ironically.  What my kids think is a sacrifice is what I think of as common sense.  What I mean by the title is that I believe we have a duty to our children to tell them “No” and to not allow them to rule the roost.
        This applies to just about every aspect of childhood. “Can I eat cake for breakfast?” – No; “Can I have $20 to buy Pokemon cards?” – No; “Can I play outside in the winter with no coat?” – No.  And, in the interest of full disclosure, at my house these requests are not so kindly made – if they are made at all.  More realistically, it’s either my husband or I catching B sitting in the living room watching cartoons with the candy jar hidden beside him…or outside in the winter without a coat.  Or demanding money for whatever he wants. There is no asking involved…and there’s usually a subsequent argument.  That’s real life.  And it can be ugly and frustrating, but it’s important, I think, that kids learn that instant gratification is not as cool as it seems.
        Goodness knows my kids WANT everything. But what they NEED is to learn that money has value, that people have to work hard to earn the money that they earn and they need to work hard to earn their own money. More importantly, they need tor respect and be grateful to those that do spend money on they things they want.  Without that respect for the difficulty of obtaining cash, kids think they are entitled to anything they want, that there is no reason why they should not and cannot have it, come to expect it as a matter of course.  Now, I'm not naive or "liberal" to the point that I don't see that this applies to adults as well, but that's another topic.
        When it comes to raising children, you have to be mindful of the boundaries, and make sure that the things they do and like are appropriate for them.  My son is 9. If he had his way, he would spend his life watching cartoons and shows about teenagers being rude to their parents and sometimes cruel to each other in the name of comedy on Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.  And while I understand that he s almost a 'tween and that his friends are all watching these shows, I don't think they are appropriate, so I have to say NO. He learns the little sayings and behaviors anyway, but at least I can say that I did not contribute to it!
        But I know that if I did let him watch those shows, or did take him to the Fast and the Furious in his pajamas when he was 2 just because I wanted to see it and happened to have a kid, he would be a LOT worse.
        B also has a chore chart. When he does his chores, he earns $5 per week. I encourage him, but usually don’t force him, to do his chores.  If he does, he gets allowance; if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Simple. And because he now has some responsibility I can say – “If you want the Pokemon book, you spend your own money. You don’t have enough in your allowance account, yet.” That’s not to say that he doesn’t grouse about it, but he accepts it as a No. –My son hears “No” a lot. He is on the cusp of actually understanding that just because there are credit cards in my purse doesn’t mean they are attached to unlimited amounts of cash.  So when I do buy him something, he is starting to see the value in the gift (I hope).
        Anyway, the moral of the story is that kids need boundaries if they are going to grow up and be socially-conscious human beings that other adults are willing to be around. In my opinion.     

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