We are their parents, not their friends
Sometimes my kids don’t think I’m so cool. Why?
Because I tell them no.
Because their actions (or lack thereof!) have consequences. At the moment, my son is not allowed to use the computer, the tablet or play video games – for two weeks, ending this Sunday night. He can only use the computer to do his homework.
Did he like me very much when I broke the news to him? No.
Yes, I felt a little bit guilty, but I stood my ground. Especially because his punishment was only a week. I did tell him, that if I saw the offending behaviour recur, I would double the length of the punishment. And the next day, I had to do just that. I found it difficult to do, but I also think it’s necessary to intervene with our children when rules are not being respected or when their behaviour is unacceptable. We also have to be prepared to stick to our word, even if it isn’t easy.
Sometimes, my kids tell me stories they’ve heard at school or at friends’ houses. Or I hear them myself.
“My kids don’t listen to me – they’re playing games that are inappropriate for their age.”
“Oh, the kids (in high school) have so much trouble making their lunches.”
“I still make breakfast for my kids – they are 10 and 12.”
“If I say no, my kids won’t be happy.”
I could go on, but I’ll stop.
How are we helping our kids if we give into their every demand? Every day. All the time. Is that real life?
Last weekend, my son was recounting an anecdote and I sort of lost my head a bit. I clearly told him that I was his mother, not his friend. I also explained that I have an important role to play.
Philippe: “I’m not quite sure what you mean.”
Me: “You know, being a parent is not just about making dinner and signing your exams… I have a big role to play in helping prepare you for adult life. I want to teach you good values, like respect, being helpful, listening, compassion, and generosity. I want to do everything I can to make sure that you can take care of yourself and the family you will have one day. When I give you a job to do around the house, when you have to make your own breakfast or your lunch for school, yes, it’s nice to have you helping out, but it’s also so you can learn how to do all kinds of things for yourself. Yes, I like playing with you, buying things for you, having take-out on a Friday night, but being a parent is much more than that. There will be moments where I will tell you ‘no’, or times that you’ll have a punishment that you really don’t like, but that’s my job and I take it very seriously because I love you and I want what’s best for you.”