The Surprising Thing I Discovered When I Lightened Up with My Kids


I am a strong believer that kids need boundaries, structure, and discipline. I’m not talking about 1950s-style ruler hitting discipline, though; it’s more that I want them to learn to buckle down and take responsibility for their own actions. As in, clean up your toys before bed every night (I’m not doing it for you). Wash your dishes after every meal (I’m not doing that for you, either). And so on. But here’s the thing: I’ve also learned that trying to control everything when it comes to setting limits for my kids just doesn’t work, at least for my family.

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When I stopped to think about why I was being such a stickler about, say, what my kids wore to school, I realized that it was because I was worried about what people would think of me as a parent. I thought that if my daughter showed up to school wearing a different shoe on each foot, or my 3-year-old had a green faux-hawk (so he could look like a ninja turtle), I’d somehow be viewed as a bad mom. But, ultimately, I realized it didn’t really matter what other people thought. I mean, honestly, who cares if my son has green hair for a month? As long as the hair coloring isn’t toxic, who is it harming? (Kidding on the toxic hair color thing…sorta.)

Here’s the surprising part: By giving my kids a little extra freedom, it’s been easier to get them to follow the rules that are really important. You know, like the ones that keep them safe and the ones that require them to respect others. So the next time your kid comes to you and asks for a faux-hawk, maybe consider it? Or at least let her wear two different shoes to school.

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