I grew up with a lot of rules. We could have sugar cereal once a month. We could watch exactly one hour of TV per week, but only on Sundays. We could eat what was on our plate and never complain. The good news is, I’m an avid reader who has never had a cavity. The bad news is, I was terrified of breaking any of my Dad’s rules. I don’t want my kids to feel like they are growing up in a rigid household the way I did. So I’m trying to be flexible in my rules without letting my kids be unruly. And most importantly, I want my kids to think of their home and family as comfortable and fun.
But the truth is, I think it’s my responsibility as a parent to do what’s best for my kids even when it’s not very fun. Like, my son is dying to watch the “SpongeBob” movie, but since I’ve never been comfortable with the content or language in the TV show version I won’t allow him to see it.
“Mommy,” he says pleading his case. “You don’t understand. It is appropriate. There’s nothing bad about it at all. Why would they make a kid’s movie that isn’t appropriate for kids?”
We go back and forth as I try to explain why the movie isn’t appropriate for him. He responds by telling me all his friends get to see it.
“Well,” I tell him. “Maybe you should go live with them.”
Then I confess what I know that my son doesn’t, I’m a buzzkill mom. My kids aren’t going to do anything that I think is inappropriate. Period. I’m not just a buzzkill about TV shows. There’s a whole host of things my kid don’t get to do. Here’s some of them.
1. Have play dates at homes where I don’t know the parents
Not every family has the same values as I do. Usually that’s okay and it keeps life interesting. But when it comes to values about safety or behavior I want my kids around people who share my point of view, especially if I’m not going to be there. So if I don’t know my kids’ friend’s parents, my kid isn’t going to a play date in their home without me.
2. Ride in a car that’s driven by someone other than their parents
An accident can happen to anyone, even to me. But if someone other than me or my husband is going to drive one of my kids, I want to know they have a safe car and a clean driving record. And when my kids are old enough to drive or be driven by peers, they probably won’t be able to go in a friend’s car until they’re all older than I am now.
3. Eat tons of junk food
I think eating should be fun and I want my kids to eat all kinds of food. Sometimes that’s broccoli and sometimes that’s Cheetos. But while my kids are young and I have complete control over what they eat, I’m going to go with more broccoli than Cheetos. They can eat whatever they want when they’re grown ups. Until then, I’m going to try to set them up with good eating habits.
4. Stay up too late
I’m the ultimate buzzkill when it comes to bedtime. I feel like I’m doing my kids a disservice if I let them get too tired. Plus, I think well rested kids are happier ones. Goodness knows their moms are.
5. Have bad manners, especially in restaurants
My kids seem capable of sitting in a chair to eat at home so they are perfectly capable of doing the same in a restaurant. And if they aren’t mature enough to be polite in restaurants, they’re not mature enough to go to restaurants.
6. Use bathroom words when they’re not in a bathroom
Some parents don’t mind when their kids have potty mouths. I do. So I tell my kids if they want to use bathroom words they can go in the bathroom, by themselves, and say as many as they’d like. Other than that, I don’t want to hear gross words coming out of my kids’ mouths. I don’t think it’s funny.
So while I may be a buzzkill about bedtime and junk food, I’m completely relaxed and flexible about a ton of other things. Hopefully my kids will see and appreciate that when they’re grown-ups and their kids want to see a movie about a sponge with a potty-mouth.