Tag: remedial parenting

Remedial parenting 3: The birds and the bees

IMG_0285Few topics raise the discomfort level like this one. I can feel you all starting to tug your collars right now. But you can’t avoid the subject forever, as hard as you might try.

My daughter raised the issue at a fairly young age. I’m not sure where she got her information, but as she brushed her hair one day, she casually mentioned, “I know how babies are made.” Then she turned to me, cheeks and eyes blazing, and said, “And you did it!”

Like many of the more odious parenting tasks, informing our kids about the miracles of life has fallen to me. There are several ways to approach this:

Method 1: Talk to your kids early and often using anatomically correct verbiage. Which they will then spout at dinner parties and other inappropriate locales as soon as they realize the power of their newly-learned words. I did not use this method, but I sure know which parents did.

Method 2: Wait until they ask, and then provide them with a brutally detailed response. This is the tactic I use. It makes my husband a little weak in the knees. He believes in a little mystery. (This led to much disagreement when we got the inevitable questions about the existence of Santa Claus. My husband wanted to perpetuate the myth, but I cannot lie to a child who has just said, “I want you to tell me the truth,” even if it might be in my best interests to do so.)

Method 3: Wait long enough, and your kid will hear it from someone else. Of course, what they hear is anyone’s guess. When my youngest child was about four, his older sister was scheduled to watch a movie called “The Miracle of Birth” in her third-grade class. I’m not sure what she thought she was going to see, but I can tell you it wasn’t a birth. Her brother came running across the yard to report to me that she “was going to watch a movie at school – a man and a woman with no clothes on, and their privates hooked together!”

Oh, the memories. Now I’m weak in the knees.

If you missed the previous Remedial Parenting posts, read:

Effective Discipline

Monitoring Electronics

Remedial parenting 2: Monitoring electronics

iPodFor years we’ve heard the guideline that kids should have no more than two hours of screen time per day. And frankly, to a parent that finds it challenging to carve out 15 minutes to take a shower, that sounds like a ton of time.

To a kid, two hours is one group chat.

Early on, I found the two-hour rule plenty easy to enforce. But that was just TV. As the kids grew, so did their interest in computer games. Handheld devices. Phones. They will go to great lengths to plug in to the mothership, and unless you want to stand over your children 24 hours a day, or confiscate (and lug around) all electronic devices wherever you go, it’s a pain to enforce.

We make the kids “check in” their devices at night. Teens seem to text all night long and my daughter, who was using her phone as a morning alarm, would wake up just long enough to reply and perpetuate the conversation. A few mornings with a sleep-deprived teen put a stop to that.

And then there’s what they’re texting in the first place. We used to read all text messages but Snapchat pretty much put an end to our monitoring ability. While my kids have some common sense, I learned from my years in management that you can never be too obvious (or repetitive) when stating your expectations. In particular, I have talked rather explicitly with my kids about not taking or transmitting pictures of any body part whatsoever. Since this is a G-rated blog, I’ll spare you the language I used.

And there’s still that darned TV. The biggest challenge now is making sure they watch age-appropriate programming. (I recently heard one of my boys, as a joke, tell his brother, “Let’s watch a G-rated movie while eating healthy snacks.”) When discovered, the kids just plead ignorance: “I thought it was PG-13!” Yeah, right.

In a fit of rebellion, a rage against the machine if you will, my husband recently password-protected the TVs so the kids have to ask permission to use them. Not only did they find a workaround in about 12 hours (the password didn’t keep them out of Netflix) but he fat-fingered the password on the TV that I occasionally watch so it is now a large, faceless piece of artwork and not a functioning device. Oh, the irony.

If you missed the previous post, read:

Remedial Parenting 1: Effective discipline

Remedial parenting 1: Effective discipline

If you’d like to know what we’ve learned about effective discipline in 15 years of parenting, it’s…well, it’s nothing. We’ve learned nothing.

When I made a decision last week to practice what I call Management by Walking Away, I neglected to inform my husband of my new stance. The natural result was that over the weekend, in response to the same behavior I was addressing, he decided to practice something I’ll call, for lack of a better term, Management by Arbitrary Pronouncement.

In other words, “I will mete out punishment for some unspecified behavior, without telling you how to correct it, and then leave town so your mother can enforce my strange, new rules.”

Do I sound a little disgruntled? I am. I’m guessing there is a significant amount of disgruntlement going around our castle.

My husband and I basically agree on the behavior we want, but we go about getting it in a completely different fashion. Because I’m the one who’s usually home my methods, effective or not, are at least familiar. His are like being deposited in a forest with only a book of matches and a tarp and being instructed to find your way home.

I can tell you how I react to this situation. I hack my way out. The kids sit down and fiddle with the tarp. And then ask me how to get home.

It’s going to make for a very long week. We can only hope that by the time our dear one returns from his trip, he will have forgotten what it was he was mad about. Based on past experience, I’m guessing that will occur about the time he arrives at the airport this morning.