Keeping kids accountable
It’s been a shit couple of weeks in the L J household. My kids have been little horrors. They have been rotten. Foul, in fact. Fighting constantly about the pettiest of things, bickering until they are blue in the face, attitude by the bucket load and a sense of entitlement that makes me think we are hosting the fking Queen. All four of us have been sick, the cold weather has finally settled in for good and the out-of-ordinary type events that are usually few and far between seem to have slotted in to every second night for the past few weeks. While occasions are great for the social calendar and adult sanity, when you’re a parent they come with a barrage of consequences - later nights, relinquished routines, school friends to impress, more adults to listen to and a ridiculous amount of junk food.
So, with all that to consider, you would think it’s no wonder my kids have been nightmares, right?
No wonder - yes, but does that make it ok - I don’t think so.
I feel that even in the craziest of times, my kids - the humans I am raising to be functioning adults - should be able to continue to respect us, respect each other, our home and their things. Is there ever really a reason or excuse that allows children the right to be rude and downright disrespectful? In my eyes, absolutely not.
We had some friends stay with us last weekend. It was low key but exciting all the same. Their eldest boy had a year on E, and while he was the sweetest young man, E automatically dialled up his spunk. I say spunk, as it started out that way – wanting to look cool, socially on point, but coupled with an hour past bedtime and a few handfuls of lollies, his spunk soon turned to sass. He spat some horribly entitled crap at us when we told him a change in plans. He sat on the lounge with the three other kids, in full ear shot of all the adults and verbally refuted what we were saying with all the lovely attitude that comes with a 5-year-old trying to show off. Wait, what? Mate, what do you think is going to happen here? If he knew his mother at all, he should have stopped while he was ahead, but he didn’t. He went ahead to embarrass himself and then I saw his self-embarrassment and raised him a very overt spiel of disappointment and consequence. Off to bed you trot mate, don’t bother coming back.
Mitch and I spoke about it the next day, that E was not our E. He was working the room and he got way too big for his boots, went in full swing and didn’t have the skills to bring himself back before it got out of hand. We knew that. But that wasn’t enough of a reason to tread lightly. I could have approached it differently, an avenue that required less public humiliation, but that is not who we are. I couldn’t give two shits about his feelings when it comes to manners and respect. Our expectations don’t change when the situations change. Our expectations are always the same. And he has now learnt the hard way that situations don’t change the consequence either.
I have had many comments over my years as a mum, many innocent and from a place of love, but some with a back handed undertone. ‘You’re so tough on them’ ‘They’re only little’ ‘Oh, but we are on holidays’. I am tough, I know it, my husband knows it, they know it. I have taught way too many kids with very little respect for authority and very little sense of responsibility that I know exactly how I DON’T want my kids to turn out. So, I set my expectations high and I keep them there. I believe in consequences for crappy actions, I believe in making them accountable to do things for themselves and I believe in being consistent regardless of the audience or arena so they are never confused about what we expect of them. My rules don’t change. Nor should their behaviour.
So, no, I don’t think there is any excuse, event or reason for a child to be given a pass for lack of respect or common courtesy. Tired, sick, sad, exhausted or worried – you can still be polite. I am very aware that kids have their bad days, but I try to teach them actions, words and ways to deal with those times that don’t require straight up disrespect – walk away, take some time, use words to explain your feelings, hug it out. I honestly believe that kids, even as young as our Noah, have the capacity to learn how to respect rules and it’s our job to teach them, reiterate them and adhere to them.
On that note, happy full moon! #sendwine