Parenting is hard. I’m sure that is no surprise to anyone. (I’m also sure that what I feel is hard now will probably be a huge understatement compared to what parenting a teenager will be like.) There is never a clear answer and if you happen to find one with one kid, it isn’t the same for another kid.
We are having some obedience issues with our children right now. They aren’t anything more than the normal things you deal with as a parent, at least I don’t think they are. But really, who knows what normal is when it comes to kids and parenting? I certainly don’t. Anyway, back to the issue. My kids just don’t want to listen and I am so sick and tired of nagging them all the time and getting upset over their actions. Something had to change.
Last week I decided that I wouldn’t be on their case all day about them doing their Saturday jobs. The jobs didn’t get done on Saturday. They didn’t even get done on Monday. Medium Boy got his done on Tuesday, Big Boy waited until Thursday. The consequence was that they couldn’t play with friends or have any screen time until the jobs were done. Those are two things they both really enjoy. Apparently they don’t like them as much as I thought they did because they went almost a week without them and managed just fine. As a matter of fact, it was quite refreshing for me to not be asked a million times a day if they could play on something. I was surprised at their ability to be creative and play with other things when the computer, wii and friends were out of the question.
This last Saturday they were both done with their jobs by 9:00 am. Big Boy wanted to finish playing computer game that he started the night before and couldn’t until the jobs were done.
I look back at these two experiences and have to wonder. The expectation was exactly the same, they had to get their jobs done. The consequence was the same too. I guess it all comes down to agency, the fact that my children have the right to choose. If they choose to not do their jobs they know what the consequence will be. Sometimes they’re okay with the consequences, sometimes they aren’t. I sure wish I could choose when they will do their jobs early in the morning and when they wait a week, but that’s not how it works. I have to learn to be okay with the fact that it’s okay if the toy room or bathroom isn’t cleaned for a few extra days. Getting upset about it affects me way more than it does them.
I need to keep reminding myself that the ultimate goal isn’t to have a clean house all of the time. It isn’t even to teach my boys to work and that they are a part of our family and therefore they need to contribute. Although those are goals that I have in parenting, they aren’t what matters most. The ultimate goal is to teach them that they have to make choices and their choices have consequences. If they can learn that now it will be well worth a dirty house for a few days.