House Rules

Everyone's blogging today about the Time article "Are you Mom Enough?," which illustrates its point with a cover photo of a woman breastfeeding her 3-year old. I've seen the photo called "pornographic" and the parenting style the article profiles called "impossible." I'm a conscientious objector to blogging about this sort of thing; all I really have to offer is a handful of cliches (live and let live chief among them). My general assumption as a parent is that we're biologically hard-wired to try to do right by our kids and (though of course there are exceptions) I won't (and you shouldn't) pass judgment on anyone making an effort to do just that.

There are a lot of ways I try to do right by S, some of which might be divisive and others less so. Among the latter is our house rules. She's 14 months, so we're just getting to a place where rules are necessary. In thinking about this recently, I was reminded that, in my house as a little girl, there was a rule against singing at the dinner table. Can I just say how hilarious it is that there had to be a RULE against singing at the table? (And, might I add, if this were a rule at my house now, I would be subjected to its consequences every. single. day.)

We are not super rule-heavy. We're pretty laid-back parents and only tell S "no" if she's in mortal danger (we're still working out what we consider mortal danger...carrots in electrical sockets? jumping on the furniture? off the furniture? eating bugs?), but we otherwise redirect her, and that, so far, has been working fine. But as she gets older and is more readily able to a) understand the world and her place in it and b) exert her will, we'll need to nail down what these "rules" look like.

Here are a handful I expect will make the list (not in this order, maybe) -- I'd love to hear your adds in the comments!

#1: Be kind.
#2: Respect your things and other people's (but know that objects are just objects; every thing, to varying degrees, is replaceable).
#3: Be honest.
#4: Try new things. Try again. Try your best.
#5: Never let anyone tell you who you are -- be confident in your true self. NEVER let anyone dim your shine.
#6: Don't be afraid to change your mind. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
#7: No judging. No hate.

There should probably, at this stage in the game, be something in here about not throwing food, but to be honest, I don't care that much about zucchini on the floor. I also have a VERY HAPPY memory of throwing a handful of saucy spaghetti at the wall in third grade: to my recollection, I blamed my sister and got caught lying, for which I was probably punished. Few things beat the unadulterated glee, though, of throwing food...how could I deny S that happiness??

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    Those are great rules. Well put. If I do say so myself, the kids who follow them, will be great people to be around. I'm not sure how others feel, but I know that one of my concerns as a parent are the mistakes I make. I know how my parents were and I hope not to make the same mistakes, but who knows what I'll think of down the line.

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