Rules - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 1Likes
  • 1 Post By moominmamma
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 14 Old 08-20-2014, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 5,187
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
Rules

Hm. Read an article Home Education Magazine posted on its FB feed about Unschoolers and rules. Very good article. Got to one spot that made me feel very unschooly-- their family has a rule that no one has to do what they don't want to do.

After a few hours of feeling rather guilty because that is not the case in my house, feeling like I missed the boat, screwed up, I finally remembered what it has been like raising these two girls.

They stubbornly want to do different things and are both very emotional about it. I can bet that if one wants to go to the park or on a walk, the other wants to stay home.

Or, conversely presenting a united front, they absolutely refuse to do what needs to be done (say, grocery shopping or specifically Costco shopping ).

If I had a rule that no one does what she doesn't want to do, we would have been home forever, except when dd1 wanted to go out. But, wait! That meant that dd2 had to do what she didn't want to do! GAH! I can never win!

And after I spend 2 days getting half the house liveable, after a week away from home and I am doing all the unpacking even though I am freakin' tired because dh is still out of town and they start tearing down the tents I've hung up to dry and throwing "my good work" around, you can bet that if they don't do what they don't want to do, they will get an earful of pissed-off mama!!

No, this rule is impossible. Absolutely impossible with 4 stubborn people in the house (including one stubborn dh who doesn't believe he's stubborn because he never actually butts heads he just sneakily does or doesn't do as he pleases).

Nope. Nope. Nope.

But we do have an equivalent rule-- Rules Are For Everybody. If our rule is Don't Hit, that applies to every one. No Name Calling means parents, too. Brush Your Teeth, Respect Others' Good Work.

It is perfectly acceptable for my girls to call me out when I'm in a bossy mood the same way I call out my girls for yelling at everybody and "Throwing Their Grumps Around". I do not sneak toys or artwork out of the house. (Mostly-- there are times when the toy or work is dispensable and I can usually tell the difference. Usually. "But Mama I worked so HAAAAAAAARRRRRRRD on that!!!!!!!!" "!!!!!!!!!!" "!!!!!!!!!!!")

Rules Are For Everybody actually works in our house. And maybe No One Has To Do What They Don't Want To Do works in someone else's house, I don't know. I don't enjoy contemplating what that might be like here. I already can't win anything. I'm either upsetting one girl or another. If I don't get an earful from that girl, it will be the other one.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Sometimes things are so bad I sit firmly on my ass and tell the girls we are doing nothing until they work out a solution. But although it looks like doing nothing, Sitting Firmly On One's Ass is also doing something someone doesn't want to do ("I don't want to sit firmly on my ass! WAAAAAAH!" "Well, I do and mama does, so there." "WAAAAAHHHH!" Sigh.....)

Thankfully I can laugh about it when I'm not close to tears in the sheer frustration of it all. I have a full head of gray hair, and I'm only just 45. Coincidence?

I do have some rules that are just for the girls now I think about it. We have a rule called Sticking Out Your Tongue Is A Totally Acceptable Response. I started that one because, really, what other non-violent, non-verbal options to kids have to express anger? Kids need to be able to do that. A sentence like "You are making me so angry, I'm having a hard time controlling my fists" is nigh on impossible. But a well-timed tongue stuck out, paired with an appropriately sour face or even a juicy raspberry? Perfectly encapsulates the emotion with very little collateral damage. (The adults in the house just have to take a walk outside and let loose a primal scream.)

Unfortunately, since I made that rule, the girls never actually stick out their tongues much any more. Hmmmm...... maybe I should let the name calling and fists fly? No, I think that's taking it too far for me. I was the youngest sister. Some things are just too hard for me still.

Back to unschooling. Another hallmark of Unschoolers and Those Who Won't Call It Unschooling is the lack of top-down edicts. I'm still working on this. But I don't make rules arbitrarily, and those we all want to keep. DD9 is particularly adept at contemplating what would happen if we changed the rules, after she punches her sister. That would allow me to strike out when I am angry. No, she doesn't want to change the rules.

Maybe being the Benevolent Dictator is generally scorned in the Unschooling community. I could just take the easy way out and say "We don't need labels" and "That's OK if we aren't 'pure' unschoolers". But I absolutely bristle at this idea. Why should *I* be the one to wear the Unschooling label loosely? Why should a discussion end that way? I know I'm ending my own post by bringing that up, and no one has said anything yet, but it's often the progression so I bring it up. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself and "Dictator", benevolent or not, is a harsh, unfair misjudgment.

What in the World of Rules is so key to identifying as Unschoolers? I feel like our rules are open to change and discussion (though not while in a screaming fit, thank you). They are few and far between but most of all Rules Are For Everybody.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
SweetSilver is offline  
#2 of 14 Old 08-20-2014, 10:12 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,763
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 84 Post(s)
I hate making top-down rules. I'm not good at consistently enforcing them, and resistance wears me down very quickly indeed. I am far more inclined to change the rule or find a creative work-around than stick to it.

But ... sometimes in multi-child families especially an impasse is apparent. Like you described: if no one had to do anything they didn't want to, you'd never ever EVER leave home, which would leave some people staying home *when they didn't want to*. Self-contradictory, right? At such times I think some give and take is necessary, whether in the form of rules, or guidelines, or structure or agreements or whatever you want to call it. Obviously for most of us the first tactic is to figure that stuff out collaboratively. But if that consistently fails, if the problem remains, if someone is left stressed and unhappy, then something else is needed.

I think what is needed is leadership, and it's not something I naturally gravitate to, but I see fine examples of it working in other families and at times I have got the very clear sense that my children are desperate for me to exhibit more of it. They really don't know how to solve the problems we're having. They feel it's too much responsibility, too complicated, for them to figure it out. They wish life were simpler and these problems would go away, and in their heart of hearts they believe that some sort of edict would simplify and solve the problem, even if it was an edict they found a little annoying at times. To them an edict would not only remove most of the ongoing family dissatisfaction and sense of failure, but it would give them reassurance that their parents can actually solve problems. They see models of leadership elsewhere, and wonder why their parents keep coming to them with family problems, continuing aimlessly and unhappily, rather than solving them. Seeing parental leadership exhibited on occasional provides a good model for their own leadership and problem-solving.

Leadership is different from authority, because leadership isn't coercive and it's based on trust. Trust that says "I believe you have everyone's best long-term interests in mind, and if this starts feeling very wrong to me at some point, I believe you'll listen to me and adapt."

I take issue with the "No one has to do anything they don't want to" rule. It is so easy to interpret the word "want" in superficial short-sighted ways, and that's not what I am trying to teach my children. I think that a huge part of growing and maturing is about moving away from egotistical immediate needs and towards empathy and deferred gratification. So I am always encouraging my children to move past what they want for themselves and towards what they want for others, and to look beyond what they want right now towards what the longer-term goals and benefits are. And sometimes that requires persuasion and leadership.

"I know you don't feel like leaving the house right now. But there's an amazing feeling that comes from getting out and doing a big hike, and I'd really like you to come and experience that again. You understood that yesterday when we talked about it, and I'm almost certain you'll understand it a hundred times as well tonight when we get home. You're stuck in front of the computer right now, and that's getting in the way of the rest of us doing something we want to do. So you need to accept that we're going. Sometimes you're really good at changing your mood with the right thoughts and ideas. Now would be a good time to do that, because you're the one in charge of how you feel about the fact that we're going. In ten minutes I want to be out the door."

Just a few thoughts. I have to go now, because we planned a big hike for today!

Miranda

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
#3 of 14 Old 08-20-2014, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 5,187
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
I would like to think that what I do is Leadership rather than Dictatorship. Thanks for giving me something to think about. I have no problem taking on the role of a leader. So much so that it starts leaking into something more authoritarian, and some instances of that I sincerely regret, especially bedtimes. But bedtimes now-- which are becoming increasingly flexible as they get older and need me less-- are still something that I both insist upon, and are for the most part accepted. DD9 gets visibly upset when bedtimes get too far off the routine. So maybe I wasn't so far off to begin with (at least in action-- as for intention I firmly believed in 7pm bedtimes).

It's nice to think that top-down in some instances can be a "force" for the positive. The girls know I'm willing to consider most every thing, and I am happy to give them certain expectations that need to be met in order to drop a rule. For example-- to stay up as late as they want needs to come with total self-sufficiency, including not needing me close by when the lights go out. And respectful of each others' needs as far as lights-out (they share a room).

So, that rule, or set of rules, is still in force.

I'm happy to let them waffle without leadership on other things. Yesterday they wanted to stop by a park near the orthodontist's. We did, though I took them home before too long because I hadn't planned on taking up that much of the day with park time. "Mom, we need to go to the park again." But it's in an area where we really don't have any other obligations in and for now the ortho is every 6 months. I reminded them they needed to prioritize making special plans, and not waffle getting out the door early. Not once have they asked what they are doing that day and suggest we get ready sooner so we have time to stop somewhere. Not once. So, I remind them that they prioritize their play at home and that one day that might change and when that changes I am happy to help them.

"Leadership". That cheered me up!

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
SweetSilver is offline  
#4 of 14 Old 08-20-2014, 06:41 PM
 
Mazamet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 23
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Amongst the people we socialize with on a daily basis, we are seen as very lenient people. And, they think that we have no rules. Hmmm, well, we have come to the conclusion that there have to be some rules, or perhaps better referred to as clearly delineated boundaries, with our DS6. Hard and fast rules are: you do not go outside without being dressed (we're in a city and people frown upon him running out in his underwear not wearing shoes); you cannot climb on top of our car (again, frowns and comments from neighbors); you have to brush your teeth (cavity issues). We wash our hands after we have been out and about in the city. No hitting, no name calling. That's about it. Everything else is up for discussion, but...big but, DS needs to come with me on errands he does not like sometimes. This is partly because he does not want someone other than his parents looking after him. So, this is his choice and it has consequences.
Mazamet is offline  
#5 of 14 Old 08-21-2014, 07:37 PM
 
starling&diesel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: West Coast, Canada
Posts: 3,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Interesting thread. Thanks for the food for thought.
What do I think about rules ... hmm.
We have three post-it notes on the back of the front door that have been there for about three years.

gentle touch

speak kindly

be mindful

They aren't rules, because no one can do all those things all of the time. But they're our ideal. A set of family values, maybe? Anyway, we've referred to those post-it notes a lot over the years.

As for hard and set, actual rules? I don't think we have any, but I do think we have expectations. Am I splitting hairs here?
As in, if I have made carefully considered plans to do something, we are all going along, unless someone has a Very Good Reason not too (Too sick, too tired, entirely too grumpy?), which sometimes includes me.

I never ask if it's okay, or if they 'want' to do something that isn't really a choice. As in, I never say, "Let's go, okay?" I say, "Let's go." And then nothing else happens until we go. But I don't say, "Let's go," until I've set the stage for a somewhat easy transition out of the house. And I give lead time ("We're leaving in ___ minutes, what do you need to do to be ready?"), but not too much (for my anxious child).

As far as being unschoolers, I can't stand rules, or being the rule-maker. But we do have acceptable- and unacceptable behaviours in our family, which we all seem to agree on when we're at our best. Which goes back to our three post-its, which are phrased as such because when DD was little, and grabbing toys, or smacking a friend, or screaming "NO" at me, I didn't want to be the "WE DON'T ____!" parent, and so we framed them in the positive.
Pretty much all of our hypothetical rules (no hitting, no grabbing, etc) fall under those three ideals.

I think we're pretty strict parents, compared to some other unschooling families. We expect our kids to keep the house in decent shape, respect their belongings and ours, use niceties such as 'please' and 'thank you,' do Good Samaritan acts as a family, not be 'rude' or intentionally hurtful to anyone, and do as we say on the rare occasions when we require them to do something. And we restrict screen time. And we don't allow food colouring. And we don't do rewards.

In exchange, we rarely require them to do anything, and for any other incident when we might 'want' their help but not 'need' it, we give them a choice and respect their answer.
We don't use punishments (other than natural consequences).
We don't force sharing, or apologies (but they do these things anyway).
And yes we ask for them to be polite, but we try not to put them in situations that are set-ups for misery or personal failure. We don't have set bedtimes or household chores, but we do expect them to go to bed when they're tired and help when asked. They can choose what to wear. They can choose what to do for a large chunk of their day. We do a lot of things that please them tremendously.

All of this rambling speaks to the nebulous thing that is our approach to rules. We're not Radical Unschoolers AT ALL. But we are unschoolers. And yes, I do sense that there is a spectrum of permissiveness when it comes to unschoolers. I think our family rhythm saves us from top-down edicts most of the time, and our slow-paced days, and our lack of obligations, and my constant struggle to keep the busy out of our lives.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!

Last edited by starling&diesel; 08-21-2014 at 09:09 PM.
starling&diesel is online now  
#6 of 14 Old 08-21-2014, 09:04 PM
 
starling&diesel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: West Coast, Canada
Posts: 3,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
This gets me thinking about unschoolers and rules beyond the individual family.

If we come upon a rule that isn't ours and that we don't see the sense in, I won't make them follow it, but we do try to respect the group/business/government that imposes it.
For example, we went to our beloved local library a couple of weeks ago on a blazingly hot day. Our library is old, and inner city, and hosts a very diverse and colourful population (to set the scene) and has little- or no A/C.
My kids had no shirts on, and once inside, took off their shoes too.
A librarian who we didn't know and was not a regular asked my kids to put on their shirts and shoes.
I bristled at the suggestion, and asked why?
She said it was policy.
I asked, "What policy?"
She flubbered and stuttered, and stuck to her un-posted, never-heard-of-before-by-me policy in our library where we have had no shoes (me too, almost always!), and the kids have had no shirts before.
I explained to the kids that we could put on the shirts and shoes, or we could leave.
"Why?" the kids asked.
"Because this librarian says it's a rule, and we're in her library, and so we have the choice to comply, or leave."
And because we hadn't collected our books, we chose to comply and stay and get our books, but I made it very clear that I did not agree with the rule.
(Besides the point, but interesting to note, one of the regular librarians came up to me yesterday and apologized, because it is -- in fact -- absolutely fine for the kids to not have shirts or shoes, and of COURSE the public library wants as few barriers as possible when it comes to making the library a welcoming place for inner city kids to come on a hot day in the middle of the summer when there are so many attractions outside.)

Same with the rule at the local park lake, where the rule is that a parent has to be within arms reach of kids under five. Well, my 3yo knows not to go in past his hips, and I was about twenty feet away with my eye on him. The lifeguard said that I had to stay within a literal arms length, as in follow him around at a distance of a foot-and-a-hlf, while he and his 5yo sister ran in and out of the VERY SHALLOW water (ankle deep), carrying out an elaborate and quite private game.
Keep in mind that my 5yo is less capable in the water than my 3yo.
So, again, I explained the rule, and the kids chose to leave the water rather than have me interrupt their game.
My 5yo said that the lifeguard was 'bad,' but I explained that he was doing his job, and so long as we're in his workplace, we can choose to go by his rules or leave.
We chose to stay, and play by the rules, which in this case meant that my kids moved their game to the playground (where they could easily fall and crack their head open on the concrete, which would be more likely to happen than drowning in three inches of water while I watched from a short distance away ... but I digress).

Two examples where I don't agree with the rule, but I'll comply because we're choosing to play by them by using the facility/group/government body.
However, I take the opportunity to have a discussion about the rule, and our thoughts about it. Because we don't have many hard-and-fast rules at home, I find that when we come upon them in the world at large, it makes for interesting conversations.

Happily raising independent thinkers.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
starling&diesel is online now  
#7 of 14 Old 08-22-2014, 07:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 5,187
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
It sounds like I share a lot of your frame of mind, including the bordering-on-scofflaw attitude toward the rules in general. Funny to think some parents of littles make rigid rules because they don't think them capable of nuance. Or maybe their kids don't! I suppose it's entirely possible for a kid to completely fail to appreciate the difference between being able to go up a slide when there is nobody else playing there, and down-only for when there is. My girls know that jaywalking is a ticketable offense, but when we do it, I explain there are zero cars (with the girls I only do it when I feel stupid standing and waiting for the light) and while we technically should wait for the light, there is no reason to do so (and we won't get caught, I think to myself). This old anarchist is happy and willing to spend time with the girls to work these details out.

I do think having rules vs. having expectations is splitting hairs. The key to realizing this is in the defiance. We don't often have rules when kids are compliant. Instead, we can have expectations. "Recycle those paper bits before you move on to another game." "Not now, I'm playing!" "Set it up so you can leave for 1 minute and then get back to it." That's just momentary defiance, "I don't want to!" but they do it anyway. That's an expectation. Kids are fundamentally compliant in that case.

"Expectations" are generally not backed by threats or consequences. Expectations are fulfilled. In a way, while I think parents often feel "expectations" are soft rules, they also seem to be off-the-table for discussion. Parents EXPECT. That makes them actually fairly rigid, the opposite of parents' impressions of them.

Parents often use the word "rule" to describe what carries consequences. Somehow they don't feel that expectations fall under this category, but I guarantee that if the defiance were pushed further they wouldn't be so quick to say that they don't carry consequences. But their kids don't do that, they have always complied and so they remain "expectations."

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
SweetSilver is offline  
#8 of 14 Old 08-22-2014, 09:57 AM
 
starling&diesel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: West Coast, Canada
Posts: 3,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Your slide example is bang on, SweetSilver!

And you're right ... rules imply a consequence (and the possibility of outright "breaking" said rule), while expectations set the scene for fulfilment or co-operation. Each word seems to carry its own algorithm behind it. If ___ happens, then ___ happens, but the culture and spirit of the words 'rule' and 'expectation' are quite different.

Perhaps what is most unschoolish about our approaches to the whole idea of rules in general is our willingness to happily "spend time with our [kids] to work the details out," as you said.

Truly, my younger, arrested-at-protests anarchist self still rankles at rules that make zero sense to me. But my grey-haired, matured and mellowed-from-zealot self can also see how the different pieces play into establishing a safe and working community.

And so I still dance around rules, but now I invite my kids to dance too.

Perhaps unschoolers don't usually have a whole lot of rules because we're generally genuinely willing to listen to our kid's perspective and be swayed at the appropriate time. So jaywalking becomes a choice, despite the law, because it is pretty silly to stand at the corner waiting for that light when you can plainly see that there is no traffic in site and all the conditions align for a safe crossing. We do the same.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
starling&diesel is online now  
#9 of 14 Old 08-22-2014, 11:43 AM
 
mckittre's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,205
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Trespassing -- on wild land that is unoccupied but not un-owned -- is the one scofflaw thing that tends to come up around here. But generally adults initiate most of that. It is kind of hard to explain the nuances, though! (well, everyone does it, and you can kind of talk about it, but not make any cut trails too visible, and maybe not talk about it to everyone...) My kids don't encounter a whole lot of external rules in everyday life, other than simple household stuff (in grandma's house you have to wear socks, in our house you can come in in bare feet, etc...). There are just so few human-controlled spaces they go to (library, community center, store, coffee shop, restaurant), and the main rule they encounter is "take your dirty boots off."

We certainly have both rules: "Don't touch people in ways they don't like" (expanded to "don't do anything to people they don't like" to cover chasing people around and pretending to shoot them but not actually touching them) and expectations: basic picking up after themselves when we remind them it's time. And bedtimes. And certainly, they have to leave the house when we've all made plans to, and a few of those plans are pretty inflexible (others aren't, and they have more choice there).
mckittre is online now  
#10 of 14 Old 08-22-2014, 02:38 PM
 
Mazamet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 23
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
The 'keep your child within arm's length' rule at the local city pools irks me, because it does not give me or my son space to truly enjoy our swimming experience. As well, I find that my son progresses quicker and becomes more confident when I am not buzzing around him all the time in the pool. So, we now do our swimming in a different city where they're not so sticky with the rules. Works beautifully!
Other people's rules: the dentist that we were seeing was so rude with our kid. She kept saying that he needed to abide by her rules, not taking into account that DS was scared and needed compassion and explanation of the tools she uses. Solution, we now found another dentist who understands six year olds and works with them in a compassionate manner. So good!
But, of course, we do need to abide by the rules that others set in their space if we choose to be in their space. That's part of socialization as far as we, the parental units, are concerned.
Mazamet is offline  
#11 of 14 Old 08-26-2014, 04:55 AM
 
winter singer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: france
Posts: 106
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
"I know you don't feel like leaving the house right now. But there's an amazing feeling that comes from getting out and doing a big hike, and I'd really like you to come and experience that again. You understood that yesterday when we talked about it, and I'm almost certain you'll understand it a hundred times as well tonight when we get home. You're stuck in front of the computer right now, and that's getting in the way of the rest of us doing something we want to do. So you need to accept that we're going. Sometimes you're really good at changing your mood with the right thoughts and ideas. Now would be a good time to do that, because you're the one in charge of how you feel about the fact that we're going. In ten minutes I want to be out the door."
Thanks for the great thread and all the thoughtful comments. I love the way the paragraph above is expressed.

When I think about putting these things into practice I realise that so much depends on my DD's own inner state. The above approach might work. She's 6. But what might well also end up happening is that we drag her out the door, kicking and screaming, and end up having to carry her for much of the hike. Or else she walks but keeps up a continual loud protest that puts paid to any semblance of enjoyment of the experience for any of us.

Another poster mentioned that one of their rules is that sometimes everyone has to leave the house, whether or not they want to. Of course I can see the practicalities behind this. The thing is though that my daughter is capable of making things extremely difficult for us, in purely practical terms. If she's not in favour of doing something she'll resist with all her being. This means, for example, that there've been times when someone has had to sit beside her in the car when we're going somewhere against her will and make sure she doesn't unstrap herself and put herself in danger.

What do you do when the rules aren't obeyed? So far we've managed to avoid punishment, and I really want to continue avoiding it, but it's so, so hard to simply function sometimes, let alone manage to do pleasurable things like walks in the woods.
winter singer is offline  
#12 of 14 Old 08-26-2014, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 5,187
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
You are not alone in intense civil disobedience. That is why we would wind up playing with the water in a scenic parking lot rather than walking down to a river. That is why any hike is less than 1/2 mile. At what point does one decide it's just not worth it to push against such intensity?

What would sway my daughters was to do something they loved with all their hearts-- once upon open gym or park. For a while I would curtail our outings down to the necessary because there is only so much kids could take. When we went to the beach (1.75 hr drive, lots of fussing even though--hello!--THE BEACH!!!!) we decided to not leave the beach unless the kids really wanted to go. This was harder for dh to accept, but he wound up enjoying himself, and finding it very relaxing. We didn't stray very far down either end of the beach that year.

But this year--same "rules"-- we all went to another beach up the highway (each one is very different, even just a few miles away). Everyone was on board, but we did argue about when to go. We had decided not to go on the day our friends visited and this ruffled a few feathers.

I have never gotten away without the punishment part, I'm afraid. My patience just could never last that long with such stubborn kids. There are things they like to do, so if I'm having to fight my way out the door to RIDING LESSONS I'll let them know they can just drop them, but today we have to go because the instructor is counting on us being there ("fine! fine!") or staying home every day, or when they were little threatening to go somewhere every day until they could let us get out of the house once a week. I would haul bodily when they were little enough.

I'm totally not proud, nor suggesting to do this, but I fought back and I don't regret it, though I would have been thrilled if I had some gentler recourse. Balancing their needs-- not leaving too much, respecting their "homebodiness" and their stamina for doing things they don't want to do, etc-- with mine was a necessary part of the equation and that I do recommend. Change up your plans if you can. Go camping, but stick around. Bring extra bodies so some can go on a day hike some stay behind. Bring back up, like favorite aunts and grandma that can disable their kneejerk-protest mode. I have to take my car in all day and can't get anywhere for 6-8 hrs. I'm calling in Grandma! If it were just me on the same day, fuss and whine, but with Grandma there they'll hardly notice.

They will, to some extent, adjust as they grow older, but I must resign myself to the possibility that my oldest especially is more of a homebody than I ever was. Some kids have the stamina for keeping up, not only with distance but doing things they don't want to do, and other kids loudly remind you that they are kids, with little say of their own, often little interest in what you are doing. We need to hear that. (Hear that before hauling them kicking and screaming to the car sometimes ) And even give in farther than we want for a time. I did do that, and still do to some extent. But I never gave up entirely.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
SweetSilver is offline  
#13 of 14 Old 08-26-2014, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 5,187
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by winter singer View Post
What do you do when the rules aren't obeyed? So far we've managed to avoid punishment, and I really want to continue avoiding it, but it's so, so hard to simply function sometimes, let alone manage to do pleasurable things like walks in the woods.
We don't have many specific rules to disobey. That's the key around here. Any fights center around rules we do have-- usually bedtime-- and that usually comes with an early bedtime warning, though I haven't really used any of that for a long time. Occasionally they ask to go to bed without brushing their teeth and every now and then I let them. But I find with most things that if I push back a little, they comply.

Sometimes the threats get bigger. I have to limit expensive snacks because we are barely making it and dd7 has some fit about not only buying a snack but eating it even thoug she already ate a bunch of snacks, I said if she doesn't stop fighting me at every turn regarding snacks that she's going to find herself eating her precious snacks on the bleachers while dd9 has her gymnastics class--gym costs $200 per month between them, and that's a lot of snacks!

ETA: I really did try to reason with her for a few minutes first, but dd7 can be stubborn in ways not possible for dd9--she absolutely cannot hear you if she's fighting for something she wants.

Again, not proud, but I'm not sure where in the world exists such a well of patience to work things out gently with such intense kids.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
SweetSilver is offline  
#14 of 14 Old 08-26-2014, 08:07 AM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,763
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 84 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by winter singer View Post
If she's not in favour of doing something she'll resist with all her being. This means, for example, that there've been times when someone has had to sit beside her in the car when we're going somewhere against her will and make sure she doesn't unstrap herself and put herself in danger.
Like SweetSilver I've also experienced my share of "intense civil disobedience" if you want to call it that (I bristle a little at the implication that the opposite is "obedience" but I like the phrase anyway). My eldest and middle dd's were pretty good at it. Now that they're 15 and 20, I sometimes forget those days. Back in their childhood years they might have been willing to "comply" with the majority's wish, but could easily poison the experience to a degree that ruined everyone else's enjoyment. Or they might have physically resisted. When it gets to that stage, I think there's little to be gained from the majority's wishes prevailing: no one's having fun. Whether you continue with the kid forcibly confined to the seatbelt in the car or not, whatever learning experience might have come from that day is lost, whatever values you hoped to convey are not going to be understood. A change of attitude is required before anything is going to be learned and resolved, and that is not likely to happen if you continue, at least not on that day.

An experience like that would be a call to me to discuss everything at a family meeting when everyone is calm and optimistic. A day or a few days later. What went wrong? How could the situation be avoided or mitigated in future? How did it feel to each member of the family? What were the real issues and real feelings beneath the episode? Were there precipitating factors that should have been addressed? What worked well the time there *wasn't* a meltdown, and how could that scenario be reproduced?

Many parents think it's a failure to let a child "win" in a battle of wills like what you described. But I've found that it can be helpful to acknowledge that your child has the power to completely transform the family's experience (because it's true, after all!), and then point out that they have a choice as to how to use that power. At a family meeting I might say something like "You are smart, and you are very strong in your ideas and opinions. I know that if you want to wreck a family day, you can totally do that. Some kids, they might not know how to disrupt things they don't like, or they don't have the confidence to believe that if they stick to their guns they can get their way. You, though? You are a pro! You can stop all my well-laid plans in their tracks. You can make me want to cry. You can turn a happy little outing into a nightmare. Sheesh, you are as strong as a grown-up when it comes to this sort of thing, no doubt about it! So, anyway ... we should kinda try to figure out ways that we're not trying to ruin each others' days. Because clearly we can both do that, but in the end it's not much fun. I think we'll both agree that Saturday pretty much stunk."

Gotta go... ds17 is leaving for college in a few minutes: big day!

Miranda
SweetSilver likes this.

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

moominmamma is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off