As a parent and a leader within my home, I often have to make some difficult choices that directly affect my kids. Some of these decisions are received with high praise, others not so favorably. But while the decisions I make aren’t always the popular ones, I have to remind myself that it’s not really my goal as a parent to be popular; it’s to teach, guide and protect my kids.
Some of the choices I make may not seem fair, as it requires removing something that may be OK for one child, but not the other two. So there are times when television shows and movies that may be appropriate for
the eldest, are not yet freely allowed in the house as the younger ones could potentially be affected by it, even if by accident. In those instances we try to find ways of providing the older one with times and circumstances when it’s more fitting. We also establish some general guidelines that she understands and knows she has to abide by if she wants to enjoy some of the aspects of being the older sister.
It’s not always fun and sometimes damn hard knowing I’m disappointing the people I love most. But when I do it, I do so knowing I’m doing it in their best interest. Oh there’s typically some backlash. There are doors slammed, shoes thrown, hurtful words spewed and an occasional letter written in an attempt to make their case as to why my decision is unjust.
But in the end; I have a responsibility, not only to my children, but to the people my children will interact with today, tomorrow and throughout their lives. And even despite my best efforts, that always doesn’t work out. So I try to take into account all perspectives, all opinions and how my decision will affect the bigger picture. Many times it means one of the kids has to sacrifice, but we find ways of making things balanced. We work as a team and learn how to compromise for the greater good of the family. And when possible I try to reward them for their willingness to bend and do the right thing. Eventually they see the benefits long term and gradually become more willing to adjust knowing they’ll have their victories as well.
The reality is, as much as they whine about the limits imposed on them, I think they honestly want them. They
may give their share of flack, but deep down I believe they embrace boundaries and structure. As much as they’d love to be able to run amuck and do whatever they please, when faced with that prospect, they’re not as comfortable with chaos as they thought they’d be.
And of course, as you well know, not every decision works out. Not every play is going to garner 15 yards. But we learn from the ones that don’t and try to adjust accordingly so that we can make a better educated choice the next time. The bottom line is, that at some point someone has to make the call to ensure a higher quality of life for my kids.
You may be in a traditional home where both parents live under the same roof. Or if your’e following this blog, you’re more likely to have children who live in two homes. In either case there’s also the danger of the kids getting mixed signals as one house may be a little more liberal or conservative than the other. Hopefully you can find a way to come together and compromise to ensure the kids get as close to a common set of rules as they can. Rules that everyone can live with and adhere to, remembering that it’s the needs of the children that come first, not our own wants and desires.
You learn quickly as a parent that when you have a family, it’s impossible to please everyone. Whether it’s choosing what restaurant to eat at, what movie to choose for family movie night, who gets to use the computer or establishing an appropriate bed time; there are going to be disagreements and arguments. Many decisions will go quite smoothly while others will invoke their share of tantrums and slamming doors. But, looking at the big picture; If it means my kids are safe and healthy; I’ll take the occasional slamming door over an empty house any day.