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#1 of 23 Old 08-13-2013, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone else have virtually no set 'rules' for their kids? I'm beginning to notice that most of my kids' friends have rules for food, tv time, homework, etc... It seems odd and counterproductive to me to have so many strict rules on petty things. We have very high expectations (good behavior, good grades, respect towards others), but almost everything else in our house is negotiable. It seems to work really well for us. Anyone else use similar tactics? :)


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#2 of 23 Old 08-13-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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Not quite the same, but we have far fewer rules than other families, and I strive for even fewer as they get older.  We certainly don't have rules for the sake of rules--what I mean is that I don't think that rules are necessary in and of themselves.  Unfortunately, I didn't start out parenting this way and regret some that I began, I've dropped many because, yes, they seem petty though earlier I think some of them helped in our particular situation.  We recently dropped all set TV rules, though admittedly we don't have many options for them here.  

 

And, yes, I think even with my rules, I can't think of anything that can't be negotiated, nothing that I won't talk about.  Or at least start.  My girls can be, mmm, stubborn and my nearly-7yo won't take "no" for an answer sometimes, and so there are those moments.....

 

But, no.  I'm too weary to be micromanaging. One girlfriend of ours, I don't know how she even makes a move, everything seems to be monitored by her mother.  I know mom has the best intentions, but I get tired being around the two, as much as I like them otherwise.  (I wonder if she will think we are a bad influence--AACK!)

 

We are unschoolers, so this shortage-of-rules (especially hard-and-fast ones) extends into their education.  


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#3 of 23 Old 08-13-2013, 09:21 AM
 
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I don't have a lot of rules for my DD but we do have some about food, homework, and TV and we have bedtime. I don't think these few rules are silly at all. I love Alfie Kohn's framework for thinking about limits before setting them.

I think parents pick the rules that are important to them and that isn't the same for everyone. I expect not to have food trails for ants, for my DD not to eat only junk,for homework to be done, and for my DD to get enough rest to function on the schedule we have to keep so I can work and feed her. I don't have rules about grades and behavior because grades aren't important to me and good food and rest means good behavior.
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#4 of 23 Old 08-13-2013, 11:34 AM
 
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I am very similar. I have high expectations on respect, behavior, school, etc... but very few rules. We do enforce bedtimes but basically everything else is up for discussion. I have zero rules or expectations about meal times or food. My kids can choose to eat or eat later or eat at the neighbor's house or walk down and buy something with their own money or not eat or cook their own food, or eat ice cream, I truly don't care. Flips on the couch? Sure! I don't enforce any type of play rules like many of our neighbors have. One I see often is if a neighbor kid is over here for a few hours, they must go home for family time for the rest of the day. Or if they played with a friend that morning, they can't play with another friend in the afternoon. No such rules at all here.

 

It also works very well for us.


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#5 of 23 Old 08-14-2013, 02:26 AM
 
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No rules here, unless they apply to everyone in the house. Like being considerate and nice etc.
We have a bedtime though, I don't know if that qualifies as a "rule". But even the bedtime is negociable.
It works well for us, too.

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#6 of 23 Old 08-14-2013, 05:19 PM
 
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I wish I could parent like this. I am naturally such an easy going, spontaneous person. So is DH. I am sure if it was just us and our bio kids (ages 2 and 4) we'd be super laid back about most everything. But we are raising my boys from my previous marriage, two with Aspergers and one with severe anxiety who are 12-17. They can't stand spontaneity. We have to have rules and talk about them for the world to make sense to them and to help them get along with each other. They would fall completely apart if we didn't have rules about computer time, chores, showers, etc. I do strive to teach them flexibility but sometimes I wonder what the heck God was thinking sending such rigid kids to a person like me. Its not a great match and causes big stress for me to have to be so dang black and white to be able to get through to them, and it causes them a lot of stress if I drop the ball and do something unexpected. :(


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#7 of 23 Old 08-14-2013, 05:37 PM
 
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No rules at my house. We will be first time homeschoolers come September 4th. I have high expectations in regards to behavior... being kind, respectful, courteous, well mannered. Aside from that, we go with the flow and kids can do as they please. Well, as long as there is no destruction!!!! Lol!!!

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#8 of 23 Old 08-16-2013, 02:54 PM
 
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We have a few. Mostly they're about keeping messes down, because I feel resentful cleaning up things that could have been avoided in the first place. So food stays in the kitchen and is eaten at the table.

 

Turn the amp off when other people are going to bed.

 

Don't wake mom up for trivial stuff. (I think they were close to double digits when this one started.)

 

Wash your dishes as soon as you're done with them. This one is broken most often.

 

Ask before you use mom's laptop. A few things around internet safety.

 

In general, doing things that wear stuff out is not okay, because we don't have the luxury of replacing things. We just don't. Also a few rules around how to care for/where to store expensive items (like musical instruments, laptops). Yes, I can be a bit compulsive. But it's not unreasonable to expect simple things like don't leave it where it can be stepped on, spilled on, stolen, knocked over, etc. Maybe because we have so few true rules, maybe because we've always been so poor, but they do seem to be good about caring for our more expensive items. And yes, I would exclude them from using these things if they were not caring for them as expected to.

 

Really not rules for the sake of rules. But I do make rules for my own sanity and sometimes my own convenience. And I don't feel guilty about it anymore.

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#9 of 23 Old 08-16-2013, 03:31 PM
 
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We don't have very many rules. If we feel like a rule needs to be made, we try to really think about it from all sides to see if it really needs to be a rule or if we just feel like controlling something. There are a few things that pass that test, but not many.
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#10 of 23 Old 08-16-2013, 06:36 PM
 
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I guess the difference in my home is that many rules (expectations?) are unspoken, yet understood.

 

Politeness and manners are very important to us, and no one has ever had to be told to say "please" or whatever. General respect for each other has pretty much just happened naturally. 

 

Close the door when you use the bathroom. Don't walk around the house naked. These were brought to light when I became a foster parent, and learned that not every family handles this the same way. 

 

Let me know when you are leaving, and where you are going, and when you plan to return, and if you will need a ride home. These are relating to my very independent teens. 

 

No rules or limits regarding screen time or content, because there has never been a problem. 

 

Same with food - I cook dinner; you can choose to eat it or not. There is always fresh fruit, cereal and milk, crackers and cheese, carrots and ranch - a variety of relatively healthy snacks available, unlimited. My control comes in at the market - I simply don't buy soda pop, ice cream, cookies; whatever another family would perhaps need to make rules about, unless it is for an occasion. Then it is generally eaten all in one sitting.

 

This approach works for "chores" as well. Whoever wants the cleaning task done, simply does it. Or asks for help. Everyone is responsible for their own laundry, but it isn't a matter of rules - if you don't wash your clothes, you will be wearing dirty clothes. This probably started when the Dumplings were around 8 or so. Until then, I did the laundry. but it was up to them to get the clothes into the laundry room.

 

My kids were mostly unschooled, so rules about studying or homework didn't apply. YoungSon has been in public high school the last 2 years, his choice, but attendance and homework are his responsibility, not mine. He knows he can quit school any time he chooses, but as long as he is enrolled, it is a package deal, with dress codes, homework, arbitrary rules, and all that.

 

The only current issue that I might make a rule about is who chooses the music when we are driving. The Dumplings disagree on this issue, and it can get fairly nasty on long trips. Sigh...


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#11 of 23 Old 08-16-2013, 06:59 PM
 
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the only rule in our house due to its necessity is - DONT STAY UP TOO LATE!!!! arrrrrrghhhh!!!! always a challenge. 

 

i asked dd what rules we have and she pointed that out. 

 

the others i dont really call rules. clean up after yourself, be kind to others, etc. unstated fact. 

 

i actually dont even have rules with school. i was so sick and tired over fighting over hw i finally broke down in first grade and honestly told dd that i didnt care about hw. i dont care whether she does it or not. but its a promise we both made when we signed up for school. its between her teacher and herself. so she stopped doing hw for a week (with teachers permission but hated sitting on the bench) so ever since then i've never had probelms with hw. 

 

i have voiced my expectations out of school too. i told her in second grade i'd rather she get a C and have fun in the process than get an A and be miserable. i really havent had to worry about this coz dd herself is her best 'mother'. she doesnt like getting bad grades. so i've helped her when she needs help esp. in projects but she's been doing the work on her own. 

 

chores in our house is a choice. a request. she doesnt have to do them. but its her and me. and she likes helping me. but it also means sometimes she doesnt want to do anything. i accept that coz i notice she does that on days that she is exhausted.  yet when they need to be done for a reason, dd offers help even without me asking. 

 

well let me put it this way. why do i not have rules? is it because that's how i'm made or is it because i hadnt have to have any for dd. she didnt need them. not sure of the answer. 

 

when dd was younger had lots and lots of boundaries. 


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#12 of 23 Old 08-18-2013, 07:34 AM
 
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My kids are almost 4yo and 19mo. We try to have a routine, I believe kids this age need it: we have meal time, bedtime, etc, and try to do most things the same way so that they know what's to come.

At lunch and dinner they don't leave the table until everyone ended (this is sometimes negotiable, depending on some circumstances). DS (the eldest) is a little picky when it comes to food, I insist that he eats at least enough so he doesn't get hungry until the next meal. And I try not to give them snacks between meals. 

We have simple rules of respect and consideration for others.

Most of our rules are for their safety and to teach them some manners. I mean, we all must follow rules in our comunity/society and we owe to our children to teach them what is expected of them when they go out in the world. We believe that if you want to change rules, you must first learn them ;)

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#13 of 23 Old 08-18-2013, 08:26 AM
 
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"No rules" doesn't mean "no routine" to me. Dk's days are pretty structured, as they both go to school (dd starts in a week) and daycare. When we get home, we have dinner and then spend some time outside. Then they watch TV for a bit, then bath time, then they get ready for bed.

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#14 of 23 Old 08-19-2013, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A lot of things people have brought up regarding rules (picking up after selves, treating belongings properly, etc...) we categorize under having respect for self, others, and belongings. My kids definately need to be reminded about stuff sometimes, but we just don't really have any structured 'rules'. Homework has never been an issue. Either DD does it or she does not and lives with the consequences (possibly lower grades, placement in a lower class, etc...). She is pretty good about managing the minimum necessary homework without any negative consequences. We do maintain quite a bit of structure. There is no 'bedtime', but the kids generally head upstairs for showers around the same time every night. This may or may not be after a reminder of how late its getting. Another difference I've noticed is lack of punishments. We don't do 'groundings', 'bed without supper', and definately don't spank. Its hard to hear about other parents who are constantly punishing their kids for small infractions of arbitrary rules. I don't think my kids like hearing it, either. I guess maybe, its more the punisments I don't like, as opposed to the rules themselves.


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#15 of 23 Old 08-19-2013, 09:28 PM
 
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One family's "strict rules for petty things" may be another family's "clear and transparent guidelines for anxiety free living".

 

My kids are now in their teens. If I think about it, we have a lot of "rules"/guidelines: regular bedtimes, regular wake-up times. School bags prepared the night before; come to the supper table when called, with clean hands, turn off lap-tops when asked; etc. During school holidays, it's expected that the kids have a 1/2 hour of exercise per day - sometimes we have to nag on that one.  It helps that they are older and can give input into setting up the routines.  If my kids want to meet up w/ friends after school or on the weekend, they ask permission/notify me as to who they are meeting, what they are doing and when they expect to come home. This is so I have an idea of what's up and don't worry where they are. Nowadays it's usually along the lines of

 

DD: "Mama, this Friday after school my friends and I are going to [name of shopping area] and will have a coffee afterwards."

 

Mama: "OK, what time will you be coming home."

DD: "About 6pm"

Mama: "OK, have fun".

 

The only real "rule" that we enforce w/ a "punishment" is that if someone leaves a wet towel on the floor, or their dirty clothes out in a public area (like dirty socks on the couch) the person who puts it in the laundry can get a "fine" from the person who left it. The fine is 5 Hong Kong dollars (about US 60 cents). A couple of times DH has had to pay.

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#16 of 23 Old 08-20-2013, 06:50 AM
 
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One family's "strict rules for petty things" may be another family's "clear and transparent guidelines for anxiety free living".

 

 

 

 

Yep.

 

Everyone has "rules." Some are unspoken and learned through modeling and "that's the way we've always done it." These are best discovered by having other kids over dizzy.gif Or by having just one more child.

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#17 of 23 Old 08-20-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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You only know if your guidelines are rules and rules are guidelines if a child chooses to break it.... again and again.  That's the litmus test.  If "guidelines" and "rhythms" are to be expected, then it really boils down to a rule in my book.  Even expectations of courtesy.  Other people might consider a rule something enforced with a punishment.  I don't.  If there are expectations, and if a child's insistence to not follow them are "checked" (however you choose to define that word, or carry it out), then I consider it a rule.  

 

Semantics, yes.  But nobody that's posted here, even me, can truly claim to have "no rules".  We just don't have kids that constantly insist on calling their neighbor a "fat windbag" or (3yo version) "strawberryhead!!" 


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#18 of 23 Old 08-20-2013, 03:16 PM
 
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You only know if your guidelines are rules and rules are guidelines if a child chooses to break it.... again and again.  That's the litmus test.  If "guidelines" and "rhythms" are to be expected, then it really boils down to a rule in my book.  Even expectations of courtesy.  Other people might consider a rule something enforced with a punishment.  I don't.  If there are expectations, and if a child's insistence to not follow them are "checked" (however you choose to define that word, or carry it out), then I consider it a rule.  

If you say hello to your neighbour, or cook dinner, or cleaning up after yourself, do you do it to obey a rule, or do you do it to meet some expectations (your neighbour's, your family's, your own)?


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#19 of 23 Old 08-20-2013, 03:52 PM
 
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If you say hello to your neighbour, or cook dinner, or cleaning up after yourself, do you do it to obey a rule, or do you do it to meet some expectations (your neighbour's, your family's, your own)?

I'm thinking of it more like: If your child refused to say hello to a neighbor, or help cook dinner, or clean up after herself, would you respond with any sort of correction? If so, I'd consider that a rule as well an expectation. And yes, I as an adult do those things because, as George Costanza said, "We live in a society, people!", but kids might need more guidance while they figure things out. So sure, we have rules. That doesn't mean I start screaming at my kids if they don't want to help clean up, but I will remind them that cleaning up after themselves is part of their family responsibility. To me, that counts as enforcing a rule, and I'm okay with that.

I agree with SweetSilver that it's a matter of semantics. I mean, everyone is saying, "We don't have rules, except for obvious things like xyz," but "xyz" can vary widely from family to family.
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#20 of 23 Old 08-20-2013, 05:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightwish View Post

If you say hello to your neighbour, or cook dinner, or cleaning up after yourself, do you do it to obey a rule, or do you do it to meet some expectations (your neighbour's, your family's, your own)?

I'm thinking of it more like: If your child refused to say hello to a neighbor, or help cook dinner, or clean up after herself, would you respond with any sort of correction? If so, I'd consider that a rule as well an expectation. And yes, I as an adult do those things because, as George Costanza said, "We live in a society, people!", but kids might need more guidance while they figure things out. So sure, we have rules. That doesn't mean I start screaming at my kids if they don't want to help clean up, but I will remind them that cleaning up after themselves is part of their family responsibility. To me, that counts as enforcing a rule, and I'm okay with that.

I agree with SweetSilver that it's a matter of semantics. I mean, everyone is saying, "We don't have rules, except for obvious things like xyz," but "xyz" can vary widely from family to family.

Yes, this was my point for bringing up a hypothetical situation.  You explained it quite nicely.  It doesn't necessarily imply right or wrong, either, so no judgment.   

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#21 of 23 Old 08-23-2013, 01:19 PM
 
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My son is 8.  We had very few structured rules until he was 3.  Up to that point he was very flexible and prosocial and tended to do what we were doing or something happily compatible.  At 3 he began making unreasonable demands, like a totally different meal that would take substantial preparation when we were already eating.  Although there were, and still are, SOME times when we could negotiate briefly and come to a mutually acceptable solution, more often he would drag out the negotiation trying to get even more than he'd originally asked.  Sometimes his negotiating behavior becomes so obnoxious (claiming he should get some reward because a parent supposedly mistreated him in some unrelated way, and/or loud or nasty tone) that the discussion gets derailed into trying to get him to behave acceptably.  I get annoyed by this, and my partner gets really really upset--we feel disrespected and feel he's being ungrateful for what he already has--so we've prevented some of it by setting rules that are not negotiable.

 

With a different kid, this wouldn't be necessary.  The one we've got functions better with rules once he gets used to each one, IFF we stick to it like glue.  If he can catch us making an exception, he'll suspect it's not really a rule and challenge it multiple times a day.  These aren't polite, reasonable challenges, more like following us around the house nagging shrilly, interrupting every time we respond, and making various threats about what he'll do if we don't let him have his way.  Furthermore, when he gets really worked up, he'll actually freak out at getting what he wanted, saying it isn't good enough or we don't love him or something--which tells me that he does not truly want control of this decision but needs us to exert authority.

 

The first rules we made were a few months after he first started resisting going to sleep at night.  It wasn't important for him to go to bed at a certain TIME so much as to have a bedtime that didn't take three hours of focused parental attention, involve kicking me in the face, and/or result in anyone screaming at anyone.  Finally we had a meeting where we wrote up an agreement about what Mama will do, Mama will not do, Daddy will do, Daddy will not do, Kid will do, and Kid will not do.  We posted this in his room at his height (although he couldn't read) and for several months each of us noted when one of the others was not following one of these rules.  I wish we hadn't had to do that, but we did, and it helped a lot.


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#22 of 23 Old 08-23-2013, 02:20 PM
 
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I think most of our rules are based on the needs of others, such as:

No standing atop the couch to jump off (rule for son age 5). If he were an only child, I wouldn't mind, but modeling that for his 2 year old sister poses a pretty big danger. He may jump on the ground instead.

Both kids are expected to nap since little sister keeps the same late hours as big brother and parents. If son went to bed at an early hour, nap would not be required. But we allow kids to stay up until ten, and they wake between 7-8. Without nap, they are both hot messes by 5. Son agrees that being allowed to stay up is preferable to going to bed early, this he mostly complies. We also have very very high activity in our days, so that sleep is required for safety in the later part of the day when son hopes to get a second trip to the skate park or bmx jumps. That kind of stuff requires well rested bodies and brains for safety. Again, son mostly agrees.

We allow some destruction of toys within reason, but try to take good care of the expensive ones and the musical equipment. We don't allow smashing guitars or knocking over drums like some of our favorite rock stars do. If son gets some endorsement deal from a musical equipment company someday, he would get free replacement fear and could make his own choice. But I do offer up my opinions a out destruction occasionally, as I feel it is important to appreciate the hard work of others who build or buy the items we enjoy. I feel it is wasteful and disrespectful to just break stuff for the fun of it (though I totally understand that desire and impulse in my little boy).

We eat at the table for the most part, to avoid food mess all over the house. Kids don't mind this, especially with our open floor plan that allows them to watch TV or interact with others who may no longer (or not yet) be at the table.

Everything is based around safety or the need to keep expensive cherished goods in good working order. We remind kids to watch out for one another and keep each other safe when playing rough or running laps around the house. We allow for some pretty wild and mature for their age activities, and we expect that they will respect this freedom by adhering to the basic precautions.

Finally, hygiene and health are important. Tooth brushing and hand washing are non negotiable. We only buy food we feel is healthy, and place portion control and timing ( no sweets or dried fruits/juices close to nap or bedtime) restrictions for health and sanity. Both kids have wild, strong reactions to sugary (even dried fruit) foods, so we reserve those for our more active times of day.
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#23 of 23 Old 08-23-2013, 03:39 PM
 
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We have very few rules normally. Right now there are more as we're coping with having new kids in our home of a variety of ages and from a totally different set of experiences, rules are needed at the moment. As we all settle down and learn each other more, the training wheels will come off, so to speak. And even now, all the kids are welcome to argue against rules, and we listen to their arguments. Doesn't mean we change it the moment there's a complaint, but we do take it into consideration and if it's redundant, needless, or no longer applies, away it goes.

 

Our big three rules are these:

1. Treat others' feelings, person, and property as you wish your feelings, body and property to be treated.

2. Use your brain. Or lately, use your (bleep)ing brain. Basically, if it isn't reasonably safe, don't do it. Think about consequences to yourself and others before you do something.

3. Do the right thing rather than the easy thing as often as possible. It is up to them to decide right and wrong, for the most part. We lay the groundwork but they have to figure it out for themselves, because DH and I are both firm believers that true morality comes from within and can't be taught, it has to be thought out and held in true conviction by the individual.

 

None of us are perfect about these things, including DH and I. We don't expect absolute compliance all the time, since we obviously are not perfect ourselves. But we do try to help them learn from it (gently and kindly) when they do mess up.

 

Naturally we do have smaller, pettier rules, especially right now, but they're minor and not overly strict or controlling. They're agreed on by us and the kids for the most part, and like I said, if the kids didn't agree, we'd hear their arguments against them.


Peaceful, homeschooling, UC/HBing, select vaxing, breastfeeding, intactivist mama to a bunch of small people.

Dela is offline  
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