This is not a judgment. NOT. AT. ALL. But rather just a realization that what they do is not what is said, done, or thought in your own household. It is always interesting to hear the issues, the language, the standards, the rules, the normal in their house. Again, it isn't a judgment, but rather just a realization that we all have our things that we choose for our children and it is so interesting to see the differences. And there are times when I wish that something someone else did would work for me. It would solve all my problems.
As a parent you look at the different choices that come up when raising your children and you evaluate how it will impact your child/family. And every house and family and child is so different. For example, it is also amazing how your second child is often times exposed much earlier or is given the opportunity earlier than the first.
I will admit proudly that before I was a parent I had these ideal visions of what I would allow my children to do, act, eat, etc. - and once I became a parent I realized that thinking "My kids will never do that," is not something I say anymore.
Here are some of the choices that we have been given. The decision we made when presented with these situations still leaves me unsettled from time to time. I might find myself defending a choice or talking myself into a reasoning...but I wanted to think this all out and document it so that someday they can see why we did the things we do for them.
TV - How much do you allow? How much freedom do you give on what they watch? What time of day do you let them watch? What is the job of the tv...to babysit? Entertain? Settle?
Our boys enjoy tv. They like their shows. There are days when we watch too much but then there are days when they don't watch any. I believe it all balances out in our household. When Henry was first born I think Charley watched a ton because it was how I survived those first few months of finding balance with two. There are many shows we haven't exposed our boys to...and my boys are satisfied. They aren't deprived.
Movies - What movies are okay? Do you take them to a theater? Is it a special activity or an everyday thing?
The grandparents live 4-6 hours away; so movies have been a valued form of entertainment when we travel. We also let Charley watch an occasional movie in the afternoon - and one afternoon we watched a movie twice. But the movies our boys can watch are appropriate and not scary. Most of the time we sit with them when they are watching a movie that is new. Star Wars has been huge in our household. Charley has seen episodes 4 and 5 (the ones we grew up seeing first). He loves them but he only watches them with daddy. And Henry has (unfortunately) seen parts of both.
Guns, swords, cannons, etc - Do you allow them in your house? Charley was a pirate for Halloween when he was 3 and because of this swords became a fun toy. Charley has always shown control and safe play with them. Then Star Wars came into his life and light sabers became huge. With Star Wars guys comes play which includes guns and attacking. Even Henry is fascinated with this imaginative play. (It bothers me most of the time.) But the gun/attack play is always about Star Wars and there is rarely anything that transfers to being not associated with Star Wars play. Nerf guns are enjoyed by all of the inhabitants in our house.
So, do my boys watch movies, commercials, or tv shows that show everyday people doing violent acts with guns, swords, or cannons? HECK NO! And because we have sheltered them and made these choices they don't see these toys outside of the Star Wars and pirate world. And for now, I will continue to lose sleep over the fact that sticks will become guns - and boys will be boys.
Art supplies - Since Charley was little he has had access to crayons, markers, scissors, and glue at his little table. When Henry came along I assumed we would have to put it away -but we never really did. We exposed Henry early and he has grown up, like Charley, knowing what the rules are in our house. When I used to watch John and Kate Plus Eight I was always blown away when she wouldn't let them use markers. I realize I have been lucky that my boys personalities have allowed them to be free with these materials.
Gum, Candy, Pop, and other treats -Our boys don't chew gum, drink pop, or eat very much candy. Candy is a treat. These items are normal childhood pleasures but the exposure has been limited and therefore they don't desire it...yet. Will they someday over indulge because they were denied it when they were 5 - I don't think so. Because it isn't that they aren't allowed but rather they just aren't exposed. We do love our Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch! And we bake up the wazoo!
Video Games - Until recently video games (other than the Leapster) were only played when we saw cousins or Uncles. After Christmas we allowed the Wii to enter our household and we have been amazed by the fact that it hasn't taken over. Charley plays it every once in a while for a short amount to time. I know that too much leaves him emotionally strung out. Amazing the impact. This is something I wonder - if we should have waited with. But as long as we teach moderation I think we will be okay.
Board games - We are a big game family. We have brought Charley up loving games and Henry already loves them. We teach winning and losing and we get excited and competitive. I truly believe that our reactions whether we win or lose show our boys that games are fun and and that winning or losing is part of the game. I worry that our competitive game playing might result poorly - but then I think of the great family time and the fun and laughter and pray that it will have a bigger impact than the need to win.
These are choices that have entered our world as parents and I know there are WAY BIGGER decisions coming soon (full day/ half day kindergarten/ homeschool, extra curricular activities, etc.) All of these things we have decided are okay for our boys and complimenting these experiences with family time and family dinners that give them a foundation of love and compassion makes these choices okay - for now. But these decisions are ever changing, and as parents we are given the opportunity to grow and change the dynamic in our household. And we will change it up- based on the impact on our children and our family.
Parenting is a challenge - the decisions are 24/7. And what is okay for our family is not okay for another family. But the wonderful part of parenting is the fact that there is no one way - there is only what works for our family. For today it is working...I think....
What choice have you made for your family that still leaves you laying awake at night wondering if you are doing it right -- this thing called parenting?
This post is linked to Simple Moms' 30- Minute Blog Challenge.