Thursday, April 8, 2010

Choosing my battles -- carefully

Most every single one of my “do-not-dare-to-break-this” rules is reasonable.

Unquestionably right.

These rules draw the line my children know they better NEVER cross.

I have made a conscience decision to choose carefully.

I will not fight my kids about practicing the piano. Won’t do it. I also won’t fight them about wearing their shirts inside out, folding the clothes in their drawer or wearing matching socks. You see, even though my children would benefit from doing those things, the consequences are natural (and gentle) enough for them to learn on their own.

Make no mistake, they know (very clearly) what I want them to do. I encourage them, prod them, remind them. But I don’t fight them.

I do, however, choose to stand strong on other things. Things that shape my children’s character or keeps them safe. My children will never experience my wrath more than when they break swimming pool rules (like climbing over a locked gate). They will never be more firmly restricted from video games than when they are caught staying up all night to play them. They will be disciplined for hitting, name calling, being unkind…

You see, I figure if there are going to be moments of “battle” with my children, moments when I HAVE to be unbendable and immovable, then why would I want to “battle” over smaller things? Why would I want to lose that precious time with the children? I can teach them about those other things, but I will not fight with them about it unless I feel it is a battle worth fighting.

Some people have said I am too laid back, too lax. But in all reality, I am just choosing. If I have to choose between the symbolic Trenton & Germantown battles, I will go for the Trenton. Because if I am going to fight a battle, I want it to be worth it. And I want to win.

It wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for us. So far.

This all being said, I have one rule I fight for that isn’t worth it. One crazy, dumb rule. Based solely on my idiosyncrasies. One rule I have tried to be more laid back about, but I just can't let go... I know it is irrational. I know it doesn’t matter.

I tell my children, every mother is allowed one irrational rule.

And this is mine.

No gum.

Never in the house, the car or anywhere within the range of my 5 senses.

Why? Well, it grosses me out beyond all reason.

There is probably some garbled psychoanalytic explanation for my aversion to gum. But simply said, I hear people chew and I want to vomit. I smell gum breath and I have to fight to maintain composure. The thought of having to even possibly-maybe clean it up out of hair, carpet or pockets – well that just pushes me over the edge.

So no gum.

Every other rule? Completely rational. I assure you.


La Tempête said...

You're right, we're all entitled to that one rule! Your mothering style sounds lovely, your kids know what is important versus what is preferred, obviously :)

Beth said...

Oh Kathy I feel you are my kindred spirit. I am super lax...but my girls have given me no reason to be otherwise...the cool thing is they are so driven by their own desires that it has worked out fine for us.. Don't get me wrong I do and did go out on my rampages but I am only human... I am so bad that I didn't even force them to sleep in their beds...

That Girl said...

Pure awesomeness.

(Even though I allow gum - but I never, ever chew it myself.)

Square Root of Family said...

Thanks for permitting me to speak :) I hadn't noticed that part before!

Isn't your toothpaste aversion just as strong as your gum aversion? There has to be a rule tied to toothpaste too..

Becky said...

I totally agree!! If everything becomes a big deal, then nothing is a big deal. My own mother thinks I let my kids get away with all kinds of crap. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to pitch a fit over my kid deciding he doesn't want to wear a jacket vs. a coat. If he gets cold, he gets cold.

So keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I so totally agree with picking the battles. Another thing I wish helpful people would keep in mind, that I am my children's mother and there are MANY things that others don't know about my children or me, so what you see may not be what is really going on. I agree, you know your children best, you know which battles to fight and which ones to put in "basket C" as we call it in this house. ( the highly explosive child)

Laurie said...

I agree with Tim, I think there has got to be some link between your disdain for toothpaste and your disgust for gum. I now think you need to post about your "thing" with toothpaste.