Friday, May 22, 2009

Creamer in the Water

Went for brunch last week with my sister and her family. The kids were given an activity pack with crayons, something to color and some "magic potion" to add to their water.....I think it was some kind of koolaid, hubby thinks it was something that changed colors....Nevertheless upon reading the ingredients we didn't want them to put it in their water.....My sister's daughter proceeded to add it, and some jam, and some creamer, and some salt and pepper to her water. We had a activity bag with us and our kids were entertaining themselves well without this extra diversion and we didn't 'let them' make the same potion. I've thought on this and discussed this with a likeminded mom and here's my take. My sister's daughter is very very very high maintenance, very very precocious and very very intelligent. My sister is not really allowed to have an adult conversation ... She is constantly side tracked by her daughter who demands her mother's complete and utter attention. It has been like this since day one. I decided that it was easier for my sister to allow her daughter to play with her water than try and "control" it. It gave her a couple of minutes to talk with my husband. I think my sister made a conscious choice to allow her daughter to make the potion. Fine. So what was the harm of a potion water? "EXACTLY" said my friend when I relayed the story, "What is the harm?" She wanted to know if we had strayed from our "unconditional" parenting philosophy. Now I've been pondering this thought too. Here's my take. It's our job to teach our kids how to behave. Mostly we do this by modelling. I try super hard not to punish and threaten but to teach instead and lead by example. I try and talk to them calmly about expectations. Kids aren't to write with pens on the walls (except well, in their bedrooms if they so choose), they are to pee and poop in the toilet not on the floor (exept if they are outside, then fertilizing the garden is ok), they help mom clean up after dinner by putting their dishes on the counter when they're done dinner (when they're old enough and when they remember), they are not to hurt other children, they need to wash their hands before eating and after toileting....blah blah blah. I guess my point is I'm not a psycho mother, I don't have "chores" for my kids, I have 'rules' or 'behavior expectations' and I try and model expectations. If we clean their room, we do it together as a fun activity.....I don't demand stuff of them. Making a mess and a potion at a restaurant is not ok with me. HOWEVER, next time I'll make sure they know that they can make a potion at home.......I'm not sure that I'm being clear on what I'm trying to say that is where do we draw the line on allowing our kids "freedom" in their behavior and teaching our kids about something that is generally not acceptable??

2 comments:

mamak said...

unschooling or life learning or mindful parenting is not unparenting. You did what you were comfortable and what was right at the time. If their actions make you uncomfortable, then this whole thing isn't going to fly at all. Also, even though we want them to develop into free thinking, life long learners, it does mean that they will also adopt others values, for now it is your values that they are exposed consistently too. If you did not stop the behavior that you were not comfortable with, then they would have adopted your sisters, and followed her child's lead. So, if you gave in on this uncomfortable thing, they would undoubtedly do it again at a table, and you would then try and stop it and explain why you are being inconsistent, and changing the rules. So what I am saying is be comfortable drawing the line! I am all about free choice and to let them live their life joyously but really, my kids would totally go lord of the flies, if I let them.....

MamaTea said...

I agree with MamaK. I used to be totally all about letting the kids be all and do all in the spirit of free thinking. Then I found out, on those few times when we join in on society's game and are in public...oh my goodness. You have kids who aren't sure what the heck is supposed to be ok and not ok. You have kids who are peeing on trees when they are at a business picnic. Oh my. So now, even though I'm still about kids being kids and us having fun, I realize that if something might make me a little sqirmy at some time, its ok to draw the line. MamaK said it best - unschooling is NOT unparenting. I will add that child led does not mean the parent is absent. We still have a job to do :)