Now that Truett and Kirsten are 9 and 10, parenting looks very different from when they were helpless little babies. In most regards, it’s a whole lot easier when you can use words to communicate (as opposed to screamy voices and tears). On the downside, using words can be frustrating because they are talking back like smartypants big kids and questioning all my rules and I’m like “Okay new rule, I’m the only one who gets to talk here, you guys.”
Few days ago, I had a situation with them whereby Tru and Kirsten got themselves banned from all electronic devices for a day.
The infraction? Overusing their allocated time and refusing to stop even when they were asked to.
All they had to do was abide by the ban for 24 hours and they were done.
But instead of being good about it, they decided to secretly use the phone for 5 minutes hoping that we wouldn’t find out. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it was just 5 minutes and the actual using of the phone wasn’t a big deal. The issue was being duplicitous and blatantly disregarding instructions instead of having a conversation about it (we usually encourage them to talk it out if they wanted us to reconsider the ban – it works about 50% of the time, which are fantastic odds).
Well, I did find out and I had a very strong word with them about the importance of earning trust. I told them how disappointed I was that they went behind my back and that if I couldn’t trust them, they would have all their privileges revoked. Consequently, I extended their ban for another 7 days.
They were both visibly subdued and retreated to their respective corners with a book for the rest of the day.
That evening, while putting the big kids to bed, the husband was talking to them about whether they thought we were too strict.
Kirsten: Yah, sometimes.
Truett: Actually, for me it’s ok. The things that you guys are strict about are important so I think it’s fair.
Husband: Wow, that’s very thoughtful and I’m so glad to hear that. Kirsten, do you want to tell daddy about how you feel?
Kirsten: Oh, um, exactly what he said.
I often think about whether I should be so strict with the kids because am I overreacting to them using the phone for 5 minutes? I remember feeling frustrated about my parents being too strict when I was a teenager and now, having to be the strict parent is a difficult place to be in. It’s not that I need their adoration or approval in the face of being disciplined (although wouldn’t that be nice??!), but I need them to understand that we have their best interests at heart even when it doesn’t seem like it.
Hearing them say this makes me feel like maybe we’re not doing such a bad job. :)