Your child comes yelling at you after school, ‘mom I got asked to go for a sleepover, can I go?’ You panic. You don’t want to let them go, You want to protect them and the only way to do that is by keeping them with you at all times. Right?
Do you really want your child sleeping in someone else’s house, but then again how do you say no? Isn’t that part of having friends and grow up? Do we keep our kids in a bubble to protect them so no one can hurt them? If you are anything like me, these are the thoughts going through your head concerning this issue. The reality of the situation is we cannot keep our kids protected against everything. Life will cause some pain and we cannot protect them from everything, but we also have to ensure we do not throw our children to the wolves.
Being prepared is a great way to be ready for this question. So try and think about this before your child asks this question in front of everyone. You need to know what you will do and why. Do you allow them, if so with whom and why?
I had decided that I wanted to give my children a life as normal as possible and if bad things happen I would be there alongside them to teach them how to overcome those things. So for me, I have decided to not live in a bubble and I try to keep a good balance between protecting them and yet letting them live a fun life.
What you think is right or wrong here might differ a great deal from what I was willing to accept, so here are the rules I came up with that are only a guideline for your consideration: If I knew the parents and were comfortable with them, my child could go for a sleep-over, if it was not a school night. If, however, they called me to come to pick them up and bring them home I would gladly do so without making them feel any guilt but they would not be allowed to go back for a sleepover for one year.
The same applied with others coming to sleep-over at our home. If they went home for any reason other than they were sick, they were not invited back for one year. My reasoning for this was because it is an inconvenience for both parents to have a sleep-over disrupted due to a child not wanting to stay and it is a huge disappointment to the child that is left behind. So if they are uncomfortable for any reason and they want to come home, it is either because they are not comfortable with that home, or they are not old enough and mature enough to go on an overnight yet. In either case, not allowing them to go again for a year solves both problems.
Meanwhile, within that year you have time to find out if it was a problem with the home and if it was you have time to try and get the truth out of the child as to what the issue was and help work through it. At times like this, you just have to pray that nothing bad happened to them while they were there. You also have to ensure you do your homework on the family they wish to stay with so the next time they want to go for a sleep-over your judgment is in tune with what is good for your child and that it is truly a safe environment
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What do I mean by “want to”?
This is really one of the simplest concepts in history. It is why you are reading this article. You want to. When you realize your children are not doing what they should be doing and you understand it is because their ‘want to’’ is broken it gives you something to work with.
With permission, I am sharing this story with you as it will explain how I stumbled onto this very simple concept. This story is not about children, but I am hoping you will see how things work out for us in intricate ways and everything we do in our lives is a lesson.
I have a friend that is in a wheelchair and has been for most of her life. She had made a comment to me one day that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be able to get out of the wheelchair. I, of course, thought that was absurd, until one day I visited her at her home. The first thing I noticed is that her apartment was all geared to wheelchair accessibility. As soon as I entered and looked around, it hit me. I looked at her and said, “Oh my goodness, I have figured out why you don’t want to get out of the wheelchair. If you do, your whole life will change. You will have to move, you will have to get a job. The point is everything, as you know, it will have to change”. She had a look of astonishment on her face. “You are right”, she said, “That is why! I hadn’t thought about it, but that is the reason…..” So I replied, “your ‘want to’ is broken.” I didn’t think that thought through before I said it, but it has stuck with both her and me ever since. She giggled and said, “yeah, I guess that is the truth.”
For both of us, our thinking changed that day. She slowly started realizing that her thoughts had to change. I learned that your ‘want to’ was the essence of how things ‘happen’ or do ‘not happen’ for us.
If we think about this in a parenting way it does start to make sense why sometimes we can get our child to do things and yet other times we can’t. If our children want to do something, we as parents can help make it happen for them. If they want to get good grades, we can instruct and teach and they will get good grades. If they don’t ‘want to’, no amount of good instruction or teaching will get them those good grades. So the knack in parenting is to work on changing the child’s ‘want to’.
So let’s give a few possible examples and then I think you will see what I am talking about. If your child doesn’t want to eat their dinner…..what could we say or do to show them a good reason to eat their dinner so their ‘want to’ is changed from “I don’t want to”…..to “hey, what a good idea.” One example that we used on some of our children was the mousie….yes you heard me right; that is not a spelling mistake.
My husband is muscular which made it easy to see when they moved. So when he would eat something he would then say to the little one that didn’t want to eat…..“Hey, look at my mousie move now that he has food to give him energy.” The children would then watch in wonderment as he moved one bicep then his one chest muscle, then his next chest muscle and then his last bicep. So it looked like the mouse moved right across their dad’s body and it fascinated them so much they wanted to be able to do the same thing. While still doing this back and forth muscle movement my husband would then tell the kids that if they ate all their supper their mousie would grow and be able to move soon too.
Their ‘want to’ was fixed. They watched as he moved muscles and they keep putting mouthful after mouthful into their mouths, the whole time watching the ‘mouse’ move across their dad’s body. At times like that, I always wanted to jump up and get the button we bought from staples that says ‘That was easy’
Coming up with ways to try and improve your child’s ‘want to’s’ are not always as easy as that. But if you are creative and are willing to talk to other people and look up parenting blogs and ask for assistance, you will find ways to interest your child enough to help entice them to change their ‘want to’. You might not always be successful but keep looking and experimenting.
One little flaw with this is when your children learn what you are doing and try to out think you. My third child eventually said to me one day, “You want to know why I am not doing my homework, mom?”After the puzzled look came across my face he proclaimed, “Because my ‘want to’ is broken.” End of conversation as far as he was concerned…..but as I am ever ready to do I came back with “for now, but someday your ‘want to’ will get fixed.” By this time it was too late for him to have honors in school, but once he started college he had a girlfriend that did really well in school and she was going to university as her grades gave her this opportunity, whereas his grades got him into college. He suddenly ‘wanted to’ do much better and is doing very well with his grades now. Huh…..I didn’t have to do anything to fix his ‘want to’, a smart girlfriend did.
Be encouraged to know that even if you cannot come up with something to fix their problems, life itself might give you a helping hand.
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Is it even possible to be a ‘fair’ parent?
I know that during the early stages of raising my children, I tended to complicate things. One of my children was the type that liked to push every boundary I made. What’s worse is that no punishment I tried ever seemed to deter her from doing what she wanted to do? Although we had some minor complaints which most children give regarding their punishments, she usually took them in stride. However, there were times she would even push the boundaries on those by trying to get out of them hoping I wouldn’t notice. She accomplished this on the rare occasion, but mostly she got caught and she rarely cared that she did. It was like a game to her.
Because of her behavior, I spent the first several years of my parenting trying to come up with ‘better’ consequences, or ‘tougher’ rules that would be harder for her to overcome. But then this created a child who thrived on overcoming my authority. What I learned from this experience was that I needed to pick fair rules and fair consequences for those rules if they were broken and be determined to stick to them. By parenting this way you give the child the opportunity to learn two things:
1: That you are fair
2: That you will be consistent in what you say.
So now instead of a child who will thrive on trying to overcome your rules, although will still not like them, you now have a child who knows her actions will give her consequences that are set in stone.
So if you are like me, you may want to ‘tweak’ the rules and or consequences a bit as you have learned a thing or two along the way and know of something that is more fair, either for the child or for yourself but if you can, stay as consistent as possible without changing them. Check out my next article on “Don’t punish the parent, punish the crime”.
I am sure it is no surprise to you that this child that pushed boundaries as a child was the same one that gave me a hard time as a teen. She broke every rule and curfew she could find. She also kept me on my toes with things she was doing that I had not even thought of as an adult. She was very entrepreneurial. She had figured out how to make equipment (you can guess for what purpose) that kids in her high school would want to use and she rented them out to get lunch money. Although I didn’t find that out for years after she was done high school, it was no surprise to me. She was also the one that I had to go through her computer weekly to take off music and pictures that was not suited to her age.
I had one mom ask me what I did when she would sneak out of the house or break any of the rules. She wondered if I stayed up and worried when I found out she had snuck out the night before. My answer was no, at least not anymore. I used to, but I learned that even if I stayed up and worried hoping to catch her if she snuck out again, she learned I would eventually give up and she would do it again when I was finally in bed exhausted. For children like this nothing is going to stop them until their ‘want to’ has changed (or click this link for the video on this subject). You cannot force them to change their ‘want to’. After exhaustion took over and I realized that it was a game to her, I stopped and just followed through with the consequences that were set down and went about my life not allowing her to stress me out with her chosen behavior.
Sounds like I don’t care, but in truth, I do care very much and this child is now the one that has come back to me more times than the rest put together to ask for advice. She admits now that nothing would have stopped her and the only reason she changed is that she saw how it was hurting her. But in the midst of all of that, she learned that I am a fair parent, that I love her completely and that I would do anything I can to help her be the best person she can be. I did not compromise my value of her as a person or myself as her parent and that taught her more than me fighting with her constantly would have done.
A side note that you might be interested in, this child is the one that is a real go-getter. She is a single mom, holds a couple of jobs, attends college and runs her own home now.
Check out our FREE chapter in the Parenting Book called ‘I was the Perfect Parent…then I had kids’
And this video on Frustrated? Don’t let them steal your joy.
Picture provided by: *www.abft.co.uk
What went wrong?
Your child is in their 30’s or 40’s and they won’t move out.
If you haven’t stopped reading yet then you might be one of those that understand this is not a healthy way to raise productive children. We hear people complain all the time that our children are the “entitled generation”. It is true and we made them that way. Read my first two blogs about this subject and you will see what I mean. So if we can see this is an issue, we have to take the steps to ensure we give them what they need to become more self-reliant, productive adults.
I have had people say they think I am cruel and hurtful because I give my children a timeline of when I expect them to be out on their own. I don’t see it as kicking my kids out but rather helping them live a full and productive life. I didn’t give birth to have them sit in my home and do nothing most of their lives. If you are like me you have accomplished things in your life and mostly by jumping out there and doing them. Yes we made mistakes, yes there might have been an easier way, but we learned from our mistakes and we got better. We worked harder, learned what was important. When we only have so much money to last a week we learned that food and or transportation is more important than the next new and improved electronic gadget.
Because we have wanted our children to have better than we had, we have deprived them of the simple fact that you have to work and work hard to get anywhere in life. We have to teach them when they are in their late teens, early twenties, that the free ride ends. How you go about this is totally up to you and something you should give a lot of thought to now, even if your children are very young. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, such as handicapped children, but for the majority of children, they should be able to have a full, productive life if we teach them how. Here is what we came up with for our family and I throw it out there as a possible suggestion that might work for you as well.
We told our children that they would have to be out on their own by the time they were 25 unless they were still in school. We did stipulate that there would be a cutoff point to even that exception that would be discussed when and if needed. We have not needed to do that so far. My husband and I didn’t pay for my children’s college or university education, but we told them we would help with extra’s. They could live at home, take advantage of the free room and board, we would pay for any necessary clothing, as well as for their school books and any unexpected little extra things that came up throughout the year. So my children paid for their courses and would have had to pay room and board if they picked a school away from our area. We would pay for transportation for them to come home as often as they wished. There were 2 reasons why we picked these options. The first reason was so that they would take their schooling seriously. If they had to pay for it then they wouldn’t be partying away the hours when they should be doing homework. Secondly to teach them that nothing in life is free. If you want something you have to pay and/or work hard to get it. They were going to have to get jobs to help pay for all of this and learn to work that in and around their schooling. There are many different variations that you could work out that might suit your family better, but the point is you have to set some kind of guideline of what you expect them to do to learn responsibility and stick to it.
My one son didn’t go to college or university and decided to take advantage of our rule and stayed with us for as long as he could. He had a full-time job but due to cutbacks had been laid off and so he took the time he had left at home to work on writing a book. I give him credit though because he really did write the book. In fact, he has written 2 since and is working on his fourth. But then when the time drew near and he knew he had to get out he found a full-time waiter job that more than paid for a good apartment and the extras.
Having said all of this, don’t for one minute think we sent our children out for the wolves to come and devour. We have always been there to help our children when they hit a tough time. It happens to all of us and so they know we will help but there are two things that they have to do to get that help. First, they have to come and ask and second have to be willing to share all the facts as to what has happened for them to get in this trouble. The reason for expecting both of these things from them is to teach them. We know it is hard to ask, but if we make them ask then we know they really do need it. And if we are willing to help them out then they have now become accountable to us for helping them out and therefore need to share what happened so if there is a lesson to be learned in it, we can teach them how not to get into this kind of situation again. If we saw they were unwise with what they had and what they did with it, we would give them a loan. If it was really a tough situation that they had very little or no control over we would just give them what they needed in money to get them back on their feet again. To my way of thinking, helping them out when needed is a healthier way of helping them be all they can be than allowing them to sit in our house and not providing for themselves in any way, with no responsibilities, and no need to make something more of themselves.
The harsh reality is that we all become a product of what we are taught. So teach your children to be all they can be, healthy, productive adults. Check Out these other articles on this subject as well.
If your older children don’t think they need to clean their room or help around the house, click here.
If your younger children expect more toys than you can afford, or constantly want things, click here
“Why should I clean up the dishes?”
“My friends parents bought it for them, so you should buy it for me”?
Do your children ever expect you to buy something for them that they really didn’t need? Or do they assume they don’t need to help around the house? Welcome to what is known as the Silver platter generation. Some people call it the ‘entitled’ generation. They are both excellent expressions for what is really going on.
We want our children to have it better than us. We don’t want them to have to go through as many struggles. We want a better life for them. But if those struggles were what made us become reliable, responsible adults then why wouldn’t we want our children going through those same struggles. If we learned by hard work, why are we expecting anything less from them? If we had to learn that if you only have $100 and your bill came to $120, you had to put $20 worth back, then why can’t our children learn the same way?
We have become a generation of buy now, pay later, and we have taught our children that it is not important to save up money before they buy. So when our children are so deep in debt, it is no one else’s fault but ours if we have not taught our children they cannot have it all.
If you want your children to learn how to be responsible adults you need to teach them.
There are many ways to do this, household chores, getting jobs and showing them how to save half/spend half of any money they get, talk to them about bills, budgeting, getting and/or showing them how bank accounts work, getting them involved in volunteer work. The point is to make sure you are doing all you can to make your child capable of taking care of themselves when they move out. Not only in money matters, but in household issues as well.
My children had chores. By the time they were teens they were all doing their own laundry, cleaning their own rooms and making their own lunches for school. In addition, they all had weekly chores and we would change those up so that they all learned how to clean bathrooms, do garbage, dust, vacuum/sweep, cut grass, shovel driveway and so on.
Your children are not cheap maids and they should not be doing the jobs for you because you don’t want to do them. However, I say to my children: “if you live in this house and are making part of the mess then you need to also be part of the solution (meaning cleaning it up)”. To make it fair I switch up the chores so as not to burden just one person with the worse jobs. I make sure they know that we the adults have chores to do well.
Let’s not complain our children “don’t do anything” and continue to make a generation of entitled adults. Let’s do something about it and train our children to be the best adults they can be in everything in life. Not just by being kind and loving, but also by being productive adults in our society.
If you children constantly want things and can’t see your reasons for not buying them more click here.
If your adult children are not moving out. click here.