Parenting Your Younger Kids: Slacking Off or Getting Wiser?

If you are raising younger kids alongside older kids you probably hear this twice a week:

“Why do you let Jonny (fill-in-the-blank)? I never got to (fill-in-the-blank) when I was his age!”

Or, “Are you going to get Jonny get away with that? If I had done that at his age, you would have whooped me good!”

Or, “Why are you letting Jonny watch (this movie)? When I was Jonny’s age, you NEVER would have let me watch (this movie)”

What is a parent with one foot in the teenager world and one foot in the elementary school world to say?

Two things:

1. Yes, dear, I am slacking off. I’m older than I was when I was raising you and this discipline business is grueling on the aging body/mind. Speaking of slack, give me some, okay?

2. Yes, dear, you’re right. I didn’t let you go to many sleepovers because as a young mom I was riddled with fear. I was sure you would come home itching with lice or converted to a new religion. But once I let you all start going to sleepovers, I realized that wasn’t a real threat. Grumpiness, yes. Hari-Karishna, no.

And it’s true; I did discipline you differently than I do Jonny. Perhaps I have become too lax and need to tighten the reigns a bit. But I’ve also gotten wiser in my old age. I realize that hearing silence instead of an unhesitating ‘Yes, mom!’ when I ask Jonny to unload the dishwasher isn’t necessarily an act of disrespect. Like you did at his age, Jonny sometimes gets absorbed in his Legos. But, in the years between you two, I’ve come to recognize that sometimes little boys, especially those deeply involved in a droid war, just do not hear their mothers. Now, this is not excuse-making. It’s just the way it is.

As for movies, well it got a little weird that you were thirteen and still hadn’t seen Home Alone. I don’t want Jonny to be graduating from high school before he watches anything heavier than a Pooh video.

So, you see dear, I am slacking off, but deliberately so. Even mamas need to grow up sometimes.

Believe me, one day when you have four teenagers, a ten, and an eight-year-old, two dogs, four cats, and a series of lop-eared bunnies, you’ll understand.

 


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