Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Making Exceptions To Your Parental Rules


Parenting is hard.  I like to teach my children to take responsibility for their own actions as much as possible, but once in a while I find it necessary to break that rule.  My son was supposed to go to High Adventure on Thursday morning.  Throughout the day on Wednesday I asked, "Shouldn't you be packing?  Do you want your list?" 

He wasn't making a big deal out of it at all.  Packing would be easy, he thought, so he waited until bedtime.  That's when he discovered that his backpack that his brother borrowed weeks ago had old macaroni and cheese spilled in the bottom of it.  It smelled terrible and he knew if he woke me up to complain at the last minute that his backpack smelled like vomit and he didn't have another one to use, I would be extremely unhappy with him.

I woke up the next morning thinking I was going to drive him to their meeting location and he was in his jammies.  "You're not going?!" I exclaimed.  We had paid for this trip.  I filled out all necessary annoying forms.  And the mac and cheese excuse was beyond ridiculous to me.  Now I was going to have him home for the next two days and he was going to have no privileges.  Not a fun time for any of us. 

A friend had asked if he was coming because the boys were supposed to come over and pick up their meals.  I told her about the situation and that no, he wasn't going after all.

That's when his Scout leader showed up at our door.  In most situations, I would have said, "Thank you very much, but he wasn't responsible and will not be able to join you", but I felt like my son needed to bond with these boys and have the experience.  His leader said, "I have an extra backpack you can borrow!"  My friend who had all of the camping meals drove them over to our house. 

They all left an hour late because of my son.  How annoying that must have been.  At the same time, it was a sweet example of going after the one and making him feel loved and accepted.  I even found myself making sandwiches for him so he wouldn't be hungry, which is so not my style when it comes to natural consequences.

Just a couple months ago, two of my other boys were supposed to go on a campout with a hike and neither of them brought a water bottle after I told them to wash them out.  One leader said, "Oh, we brought extra water."  I said, "No, they deliberately ignored me, so they can stay home."  They were furious with me, but that's what felt right in that scenario. 

Tell me about some times you made exceptions to your rules! 


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