Sunday, February 21, 2010

Choices...

I think it is incredible how each household has their own idea of what is okay or normal for their children. And no household is more right or wrong than another, but it is funny how there are things that people do that just wouldn't work for me because that isn't how it is in our house.

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. 

11 comments:

Stepping On Cheerios said...

This is a great blog post! I have often thought about these things. Just about everything I said I would never do, I now always do!

TV in my house is used to entertain and to settle.

We have nerf guns. My boys are 3 & 5 and have only seen Pixar and Disney films. I think they have been to the theater twice.

I allow my boys a little more freedom that most other parents I know. They are very spirited and very physical. I try to embrace that and not squash who they are. I hope to raise confident little men...

Crayon Wrangler said...

Wonderful post!
I think I question just about everything I do. I think questioning yourself makes you a good parent.
I think my biggest thing was the TV watching. My oldest is a late talker but since she has started watching shows like Dora and other interactive shows we have seen a gradual increase in her vocabulary.

shellycoulter said...

I feel like I am constantly questioning if I'm doing things right. Part of being a momma, I guess. I'm trying to not worry so much though. I will continue to strive to offer what I see as a healthy, balanced life and trust that God will protect them in the overall picture.

Enjoyed reading this post. :)

Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

What a great, thought-provoking post! I agree with the other commentors in saying that I think questioning what we are doing and how we are doing it is part of what makes us good parents. It is so easy to fall into the mindset that what we do is 'right' or 'better' than what other parents do, and fail to realize that every single one of us is doing what we need to do to get by and survive. (For more on that end, read this post: http://sabrinaporterfield.blogspot.com/2003/03/good-vs-bad-mothering.html Quite possible the best blog post I have ever read!)

My kids have never had soda or gum, rarely, if ever, get candy, and think that organic fruit strips are dessert. 'Good', right? The 'bad'? Up until about 6-months ago, my kids routinely fell asleep on pillows on the living room floor, were carried up to their beds, and usually woke-up in the morning in my bed. (They now go to bed in their own beds and stay there all night because I finally worked up the strength to fight the bedtime battle.) I know a lot of people who would read that last part and whip-out their parenting score card to dock me a few hundred points! Our justification was always that our kids fell asleep happy and woke up happy, and that was all that mattered. I honestly lay awake sometimes and wonder if that will be something they discuss in therapy 20 years from now.

Veronica Lee said...

Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

interseting post. I don't think that any of your "choices" you discussed are controversial and that most parents would agree with you. My lil man isn't old enough to have gotten into any of that stuff yet-but I did tell Andy to turn the tv off when he thought a cartoon was fun for him. HA! Everytime there is something wrong with Eil andy and I stand there and can't decide what to do. Instead of consoling Eli we get snippy at eachother b/c we are so unsure of what the next "RIGHT" move is...sad. I never ever ever ever thought I would worry about someone more than myself. ha. now i can't believe how much I actually worry about that little guy...and I know it will never stop. Hopefully I parent better with my kids than I did with my puppy! Good thing I have a great older sister to look up to in all of these matters! RR

For the Love of Naps - Sarah said...

Love all the comments on this post. You all have good thoughts. Very good point about questioning...if we are reflecting, questioning, and taking pause I think we are aware and making choices with purpose and reason.

And that post that you recommended Fishsticks and Fireflies is amazing! It will be one I bookmark and read every now and then. Thanks for sharing!

molly said...

So well said! I'm always amazed by these widely varied opinions also, as well as how many people I love and adore who have such different views than mine. So rich, that.

Mrs4444 said...

As a mom of two teens who are (so far) absolutely wonderful, I can say first hand that setting limits for kids is half the battle, and it appears you know what you're doing in that regard :) Conscious parenting is hard work, but it really does pay off.

amandaginn said...

As a young mom, I ponder this question daily. Thankfully, we can always turn around when we've been going to wrong way...

(found you at Steady Mom)

se7en said...

Great 30 minute post!!! I never really thought about the choices we made (they just felt right for us) until I noticed other folk were doing things completely differently!!! Then I felt REALLY strongly about the way we do things!!! Now that my eldest is twelve and his friends are just a couple of regular guys I reckoned that a lot of parenting paths lead you to the path of cool kids - its not so much what you do but how you do it that counts!!!

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