The most desirable things in life are the ones we just cannot have, so Day 23 Choose Their Forbidden Fruit Wisely reminds me that as moms we need to choose very carefully those rules we enforce for our children. A poorly thought-out plan can back fire, with kids that are 2 or 12!
“Don’t hang out with those friends.”
“Don’t date that boy.”
“Don’t eat that cookie.”
Rules we may have been given, rules we may have given ourselves…but rules nonetheless. And while most will agree that rules give us a civil society, we can ALL agree that there is nothing like a rule to make us wonder what life would be like if we DISOBEYED that rule. Rebellion is a crazy thing.
Case In Point
As a child, my wonderful mother put very few rules in force at our home. I mean, we had general guidelines but mainly those kinds of things that reflect general respect and kindness for each other, especially those that you love. Clean up after yourself. Use only kind words. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Claim responsibility when you should.
But our house wasn’t governed by a bunch of Do’s and Don’ts.
Getting our ears pierced..My sisters and I were told from a pretty young age that we were not ALLOWED to get our ears pierced until we were 13.
So do you know what I did as SOON as I turned 13? That’s right…I had my mom drive me straight to the mall to get my ears pierced.
And do you know what else?
After those first few weeks of keeping the same earrings in and a few months after that of trying new earrings on, the newness wore off. And over the course of the next 10 years, I probably wore earrings only sporadically enough to keep the holes from closing back. And that could be 2-3 months of skipping.
Why? Why would the one thing I had desired for years..years people! That is like an eternity for a child.
Why would that one thing I had told myself I wanted sooooo badly all the sudden mean nothing to me?
Because I’m not sure I even wanted it…not sure piercing my ears was something I had really desired to begin with.
But once my mom forbade me until I was 13, it was all I could think about. How much I was going to love having my ears pierced. How grown up I would look. How I would save my money to buy stud earrings, dangly earrings, silver earrings, pink earrings. How I would always have a pair of earrings in.
Lies, lies, lies. None of those things were true.
The only truth in that situation was that I only wanted what I couldn’t have. And in the midst of that desire, I fabricated this whole world where everything was perfect once I had that one thing.
And that my friend, is what our children are going to do as we put rules into place. I truly believe this is at the heart of almost all rebellion in children.
And what I know, and simultaneously fear, is that it is going to get worse as my girls get older.
For now, at 3 and 6, they are still relatively obedient little people – Don’t cross the street without holding my hand. Don’t get snacks from the pantry without asking. Don’t walk out the front door without telling mommy where you are going.
But they are little and while telling them “No” to that “one more cookie” might make them want it just a bit more, they fully trust that I want only what is best for them and that my rules are all about their safety and well-being.
But something about getting older flips that switch…and these same parents whom you fully trusted to take care of you all the sudden are making rules to keep you from friends, boys and having fun.
Weird how those some parents changed overnight, huh?
And I don’t even think their train of thought is intentional…irrational, yes. But intentional, no.
Because looking back, I know my mom’s decision about the earrings was because she wanted us to be old enough to be able to make a decision that would impact our body, it’s appearance, create pain. You see, she was being a good mom, but I was too blind to see it.
So what do we do? How do we handle this dilemma as our children get older and rules HAVE to be set?
Well, we need to choose their “forbidden” fruit wisely. Don’t just set parameters on everything just because you can.
Think carefully if the right decision is to tell your daughter she “CAN’T” date that boy or your son “CAN’T” hang out with those friends. Because we as parents may know these people will send our children down the wrong path but once we tell them no, we have exponentially increased the odds that they will sneak around and do just what we don’t want them to do.
Instead, lets SHOW them why these decisions are not good ones…by showing them how a girlfriend or boyfriend should act and what kind of friends our kids deserve.
Let’s teach them self-respect and show them how the choices they make today can have years of lasting impact…sometimes permanent.
Let’s reinforce the same skills we’ve been teaching them since they were little – kindness, love, respect…but make sure they are treating themselves with those three traits…not just other people.
Let’s remind them that there is nothing they can do to us that will stop our love, but that there are some choices from which they won’t get a second chance. Drinking, driving recklessly, unprotected sex….these can have life-changing changes.
And let’s pray. I will pray that my children remember that I am the same mom who walked on the outside in the parking lot so as to put myself closer to the moving cars. I am the same mom who stayed up countless nights letting them sleep on me so they could breathe with a cold. I am the same mom who checked out preschools and day camps and gymnastics classes before ever signing them up. I am the same mom who they knew at 5 years old would lay down in front of a moving car for them.
I am the same mom…
You know, years later…at the ripe old age of 19, I told my mom I was considering getting a tattoo. It seemed cool and cute and on my newly discovered fit body, I thought it was the perfect thing to do.
My wise mom said: “You know Hillary, if that’s what you want to do, then you are certainly old enough to make that decision about your body. But just think about this – in 30 years, are you really going to want to see that same tattoo on your body?”
Enough said…I opted to not get one.
If you have missed any in the series 31 Days & 31 Ways To Be A Better Mom, catch up here:
INTRO TO SERIES:
DAY 1: OUR BEFORE SCHOOL RULE
DAY 2: UNPLUG AND PLUG IN
DAY 3: STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD
DAY 4: EMBRACE YOUR CRAZY
DAY 5: BE A REBEL
DAY 6: DO AS I SAY
DAY 7: FIND YOUR VILLAGE
DAY 8: DIVIDE & CONQUER
DAY 9: ONE SMART COOKIE
DAY 11: STOP COMPARING YOUR CHILD
DAY 12: TAKE CARE OF #1
DAY 13: DATE YOUR CHILD
DAY 17: PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
DAY 18: QUIT BEATING YOURSELF UP
DAY 22: FAMILY DINNER SHMINNER
DAY 23: REBELLION IS A CRAZY THING
DAY 24: TELL THEM IT WILL GET BETTER
DAY 26: IT’S OKAY TO WISH TODAY WAS OVER
DAY 27: BE A GOOD DAUGHTER
DAY 28: QUIT TRYING TO BE THAT OTHER MOM
DAY 29: YOU CAN’T BUY THEIR HAPPINESS
DAY 30: TELL YOUR KIDS YOU ARE A FAILURE
DAY 31: LEARNING TO LET GO