Oh AnnaK, I feel you sister. While I *get* the perspective I should have (they are happy, they are in control of their destiny, I have total trust in their choices) I have struggled with it many a time in regards to screens. I have been known to suit up for a walk and leave with a snide "well, I'm going out for some air!" and leaving them feeling guilty for loving their games more than air. I have referred to it as "those F-ing video games!!" on more than one occasion. My son will apologise for playing all day and I feel lower than dirt for creating that idea in him. And for each of these moments I have apologised later, I have explained how it is all my sh*t, not theirs, and I need to work on it, I am working on it, I'm so so sorry. of course you can go play your games.
So I've ben going for walks lately, to gather myself and think about my perspectives. And one perspective continues to drift into my head. Too often I hear authoritarian parents say "I AM the parent" and I cringe at that, at parenting actions that are so contrary to how I think children should be respected and valued as people. And yet, I find myself thinking 'but they have a mama for a reason'. Yes they know best if they want to wear a coat outside, and I have no desire to force that upon them. But my experience as an adult is that our island weather is very unpredictable from hour to hour, and they may realise they need a coat later on, so I will grab one on the way out. i do not aim to 'teach them a lesson' by being cold and unhappy, with no way out, but to give them the support they need when they need it.
IMO, when my children, all three, immediately upon waking, turn on the dvd player and two computers, and can play for 4 hours before they note that they are hungry, that part of the day has already passed them by, and that we've not said two words to each other after my initial 'good morning', they need me to offer them a coat. We've done the 'they're in control thing' for years in regards to dvds and gaming, and while they'll comment (once in awhile) that they've used up the whole day gaming, and I've spent said day knitting, eating crap and surfing online, the pattern never changes. there has been no organic shift to more variety in their day, or mine. the habits become ingrained, and that is what keeps coming to me lately as I ponder our struggle.
just as I, if left to my own less-healthy choices, will eat junk and watch tv 12 hours a day, so too will the rest of my family. and sure, we may get bored of it, feel sluggish, and force ourselves (not them, us) to get offline and go out, it does not last, because as you said, turning on the screen is SO MUCH EASIER. So is eating chocolate and coffee for breakfast. making healthy choices takes time and intent, and to often my mental state lacks intent and needs the easy route.
So recently I'm trying on a slightly diff perspective. We aren't a family that suffers rules well. We all just forget what they are anyway and realise we've already broken them within a day. but we've talked about balance, and about how we NEED new experiences, we need to get out and see the world, and that my role is to help them (and they me) find that balance and keep it. don't misunderstand, as I type this two are gaming and one is watching max and ruby for the hundredth time. but they went to our park/gym meetup today, and helped me fold laundry, and made themselves way-cool snax, and came for a walk with me. I did not offer this, nor ask politely if they felt like it, I kindly stated that X needed to occur and which should we do first? I'm not repeating that to you as a tip, or advice. I know two mamas who's kids would balk at them if they tried to lead in such a way. that's just my kids, they are in agreement with doing a few X things before gaming, or looking at our day and seeing where gaming will fit in around our other goals. but we had to help them create those goals. when left on their own they never came up with anything they'd like to try or were interested in, other than gaming all day. It feels SO wrong to me that they ask me if they can game now each day. I didn't say they needed to ask, and I loathe being the gatekeeper, that is not the role I want in their lives. and they know it. but it has all been done in reference to what my role is as their mama. It's not healthy for me to knit all day, every day. I just did that for all of Feb. It is my nature to over-indulge and make anything self-destructive. We defnitly crossed what i feel is the lazy line. And knowing this about myself i need to find the resolve to switch it up. ditto for them. gaming every morning, and all day is their habit, and after over a year of it, and they see no way out. that's what habits are. so I'm thinking that that is why they have me, to help them see a way out, see a world that includes gaming, but also includes more.
your kids are not mine, nor you I, but I feel like we're swimming in this same murky pool, and recently I feel like I can find a better place to be, for all of us, but it is taking a huge amount of work, intent and mental effort on my part and dh's. the other way is super easy, but it feels really wrong for us, and we think we need to listen to that. now they do more, are interested in more. they know gaming will not be denied, it can be fit into each day, but that there is room and time to follow my ideas a bit first (or second, depending on the day). like I said in that other thread, I did not enjoy or learn from being in school, but I am starting to see the benefit of being somewhat forced to shift my focus for X hours a day. i still power down and knit and surf, but I need to force myself to do other things too, and i think they need me for that also.
Whaddaya think of that?