We had a fabulous weekend celebrating Easter with our extended family up at my parent’s mountain home. It was glorious- warm sunshine, nice breeze, chilled wine, yummy eats, and great conversation. Exactly what we needed right now in our busy lives. There were several of our family members there with kids so my kids had built in friends to play with. And Matt and I were continually amused watching the parenting styles of some of our relatives and friends. Let’s just say, we are totally different parents. My mom’s best friend remarked that Matt and I are “old school parents” and that got me thinking of all the ways we are definitely old school.
1. We make them ride the bus. Even the 2 going to charter schools this year ride the bus. I pay for that bus and they ride it. They hate it. Do I care? Nope. I’m not driving an extra 20 minutes all the way to school and sitting through 2 different car lines every afternoon because they hate the bus. Nope. Next year Tyler will drive to school and he will take all the kids in the morning but the younger 3 will ride the bus to the communal bus stop in the afternoons.
2. We let them entertain themselves. My parents never played with us. We were expected to entertain ourselves. I’m not playing Monster High. I’m just not. This is why we have so many kids so they can entertain each other because I have zero interest in imaginative play. I’ll read all the books they want, I’ll have a dance party, I’ll go in the hot tub with them. But I’m not playing dolls, or tea party, or God help me, Littlest Pet Shops and Shopkins. No.
3. We let them learn from their screw ups. It’s not my job to fix every mistake they make. How will they learn? Forget to do your English paper? Better find out if you can turn it in late. Forget your PE uniform? Guess you’re getting lunch detention that day. Mistakes are a part of learning how to be a responsible adult. Far be it for me to deprive my kids of that learning experience.
4. We do not pay them for chores. Nope. Chores are a part of living in this household. You do your part and you pull your weight. We provide shelter, clothing, food and luxuries like electricity and running water. So they will do their part to help out or I’ll send them outside to bathe from the hose.
5. We are not besties. I have friends and I don’t need any friends who are kids. All my friends are old enough to drink. I don’t need my kids to like me. They will respect me, they will listen to me, they will do what I say. And that makes us definitely not besties.
6. We enforce limits and follow through on consequences. Don’t get in trouble in my house because I follow through on consequences. Always. But we also don’t have a thousand stupid little rules. We have a few important big ones. And they better not get broken or the offender will pay the price- usually losing a beloved phone or laptop or iPad.
7. We don’t fight their battles for them. I get involved if it’s really serious but otherwise, nope. Have an issue with a coach? Deal with it respectfully and work it out. Same with teachers and friends. I strongly believe in kids learning to handle confrontation and stand up for themselves at an early age.
8. We are not helicopter parents. We are probably the opposite of helicopter family. The kids have parameters they have to follow but I don’t keep them attached to my apron strings…if I wore an apron. They can walk to their friends houses down the street, they can play in the front yard without me, they can have their privacy without me butting in every few minutes. I’m trying to raise adults, not needy kids.
9. We don’t do homework. Mainly because I don’t understand their homework these days. But I’m not going to do their homework for them. I already did school. The little kids go to Tyler for help with math and to Maia for help with reading. It works out well for me.
10. We don’t sweat the small stuff. I no longer care about little things- like matching outfits on Easter, or having perfect Easter baskets made, or having the perfect family picture. It’s the mis-matched outfits and the funny picture outtakes are what memories are made of in this family.
I like being an old school parent. It works for us. And it works for our kids.