Since I just suggested last week that its good to not hold the reigns too tight on our children, it seemed appropriate to re-post when it absolutely is.
My daughter’s 9 and she’s pretty awesome. Although, I am biased, I realize this…but she is. Except for the time she was about to go outside to play in her travel soccer team shirt and school approved pants and I said, “You can’t wear that out to play,” and she gave me her nastiest, angry look and snarled, “You’re not the boss of me. You can’t tell me what to do.”
At that point, I started to laugh and said, “Oh yes, yes I am. I am the boss of you right now because I work hard to pay for the clothes you are wearing and potentially ruining outside to play and I will be the same boss who will have to buy you new clothes to replace the ones you ruin, which I’m not okay with so it’s not happening. You have designated play clothes and those are the clothes you will wear if you’d like to go outside to play.” At this point, she stormed off to change, disgusted with me and my rules and the control she wished I didn’t have over her life and her choices. Bummer.
But I am the boss right now and I don’t apologize for that. It’s my house, and my stuff and I work hard to pay for it. And although I am a firm believer in allowing kids to make decisions for themselves and offering them options, I am not okay with allowing their decisions to control my life in ways I have influence over. In this case, replacing things that will get ruined unnecessarily. And yes, my kids play hard, so their stuff gets ruined. I love that.
I work with big kids. Teenagers. They know everything and can do whatever they want. Some of them skip school and their parents say, “I can’t control them and make them go to school.” No, no you can’t, but you can control their surroundings and the stuff they think they own in your house. They watch your television, use your computer, use your wireless router for their phone, use your toilet paper (thank goodness) and eat the food you bought with your money. It’s yours. They have the luxury of using it. Except maybe the toilet paper, taking that away would probably be wrong. But, you are still the boss in your household when it comes to your stuff.
We need consequences to determine which of our behaviors work for us and which ones don’t. The more positive the outcome, the more likely we will continue that behavior. The more negative the consequences, the bigger the deterrent to continue. We need to feel the pinch of discomfort in order to encourage us to change.
Life is full of consequences and when better to learn that than when the consequences aren’t that bad. You forget your homework, you get a bad grade. Not life altering, but potentially motivating. You eat candy without permission, you lose it for a week. There’s always more candy. You say something mean to someone, they don’t want to hang out with you anymore. You apologize and hope for the best. You tell off your mother, you have no social life for two weeks. Two weeks will feel long, but you’ll leave your house again, and maybe even think before you speak. Or…You kill someone, you go to jail and are shunned from society. Probably locked up for a long, long time. You meet new friends in jail, you say something mean to them, they cut your ear off when you least expect it. Consequences. They are real.
So, the bottom line. I will not allow my daughter to wear her soccer shirt out to play in order to keep her out of prison and keep her cute little ears. This time, she changed her clothes, she had a great time outside and the next time, she’ll think twice about what she wears…hopefully. And although I want her to make her own decisions, I want to best guide and influence her how to make those decisions work for her while she is still under my roof, and for me.
So I will continue to let her know that I am the boss of her and I will pay her a good salary of unrivaled love, unlimited respect and valuable life knowledge. And that includes helping her see the consequences of her actions and how they impact her and those around her. And soon enough, she will live the entrepreneurial life she desires when she becomes her own boss. And if I play my cards right, maybe she’ll even invite me to take your mom to work day.