The other day while talking with my mom about my boys, I made a comment about how they don't really have rules at home. Her reply, "Well that's pretty obvious!" kind of shocked me. Here I thought my boys were normal, fairly well-behaved four and six year olds. Obviously I've missed something, so I later asked if she could elaborate.
What exactly makes it obvious that they don't have rules at home? Well, she has to tell them repeatedly not to run in the house. They don't follow directions with out first asking why?. They run off in the grocery store.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like pretty normal four and six year old behaviors to me. I mean, does anyone know a six year old boy who doesn't have to be reminded of some things a million times? And, why shouldn't they ask why? I am not raising boys who blindly follow authority. They have every right to know and understand why something is expected of them.
To give my mom some credit, she did admit that their behavior is likely to be normal, but since she hasn't been around such young children in some time, she isn't the best judge of what normal is. And, she doesn't have a whole lot of experience with boys, since she raised all girls. However, she did remark that she thinks the boys need rules and boundaries.
Take the grocery store for example. My response to the boys running off in the grocery store is not to bring them with me. She seems to think if they never come with me, they will never learn how to act appropriately in a grocery store. I beg to differ. First off, I can't always make it to the store with out them, so they do get exposure to it. Second, does she really think they will go their whole lives running in stores. Just because they are not mature enough now, doesn't mean they will never get there.
I recently read an essay, House Rules by: Anna M. Brown over at Consensual-Living.com. Ms. Brown came across a family that had five pages of house rules written out, along with punishments should the rules be broken. Every moment of these children's lives were mapped out for them in dos and don'ts, with punishment, fear, and intimidation used to force compliance. She asked the question, "How can you find *who you are*, in that type of environment?"
I feel my job, as a mother, is to love, support, and guide my children until they no longer need me. My job is not to dictate who they are, or how they should spend their time. I parent with that in mind. When I tell them "Don't play in the street." it is not a rule, it is advice I am passing along to them. There is no fear of punishment. No intimidation. No forced compliance.
At the end of her essay, Ms. Brown suggests five simple house rules to replace the five pages she found earlier. These are the only rules I would ever consider incorporating into our family.
Trust yourself and your intuition.
Pursue your passions with abandon with the knowledge that you are supported and loved.
Ask for help when you need it.
Express your needs and trust that they will be met.
Live, Love, Learn