When Kye was almost six months old I wrote this blog post about re-parenting and how one of my main goals as a mother was to avoid re-parenting. Three and a half years later and it's STILL something I think about on a daily basis. Parenting is not easy and I know when I'm tired, upset about other things, or just distracted I tend not to stay as focused on my parenting job as I should be. I slack! I let things slide...say yes when I should say no...etc. Almost anytime that happens, re-parenting is the result. Once I get that needed rest, get over that funk, or get back focused on my role as Mom then I have to "fix" the things I allowed happen. It makes it easy to see how so many parents get trapped in that endless cycle of re-parenting again and again and again.
I am thankful I read Babywise and understood that concept early in my parenting days. It is an idea that has stuck with me and has shaped my children as well as their futures. By thinking through every decision I make as a parent (even the small ones) I think my children are happier (even if they are upset at first when hearing "no"), they have an understanding of my authority over them (as well as God's over all of us), and they are very obedient.
Just as an example there is are two playgrounds at Kye's school. One in the back (where he plays during school time) and one near the entrance of the building (for younger kids where he used to play in the younger class). Every day we pass by that smaller playground. We pass it when we go into the building to drop him off and we pass it on our way out of the building when we pick him up. If I'm early to pick him up I will sometimes swing Britt on the swings at the playground but once she attends school there that will stop. Everyday when we pass the playground we also pass other children. Who are crying, begging, and pitching fits because they want to play on the playground. Sometimes they do play. Sometimes their moms drag them (often kicking and screaming) to the car. Earlier in the school year Kye asked to play on the playground. I simply told him no. We don't play on that playground. He has time during school to play on the "big kid" playground. He was disappointed at first. But now? He never ever asks because he knows what to expect. My answer would be no. Every time. So we enjoy our walks to and from the school building...and I never have to deal with any fits or any issues regarding the playground. I made my rules clear to him from day 1 and I have stood my ground on that.
It may seem harsh to some of you that I never let him play but we don't have the time. We have to hurry home and get lunch before naps. But even if we did have the time I'm not sure I'd let him play? I just feel like that's school property and it's inappropriate to view it as a public park type thing, ya know? Anyways I knew on the first day of school that our time after school would be RUSHED so I made the conscious decision to never let him play. I knew we would never have a consistent time to play so it wouldn't be fair to him to allow him to play sometimes but not other times. It would be confusing for him at his age and would cause more issues than the few times of play would justify.
Just like I think about "what would Jesus do?" all the time I also think about "how will this affect him/her in the long run?" I weigh the pros and cons of any decision before I make it. I think things through and try to see the big picture.
I'm pretty good about this majority of the time. I was a PRO about it before Britt was born. But life with two has brought about more times of tiredness for me so there are times when I slack off and I hate when that happens!
Back in April of 2010 Zach wrote this post about Kye's first time ever "playing nintendo" (and yes, we will forever call it Nintendo in our house haha!).
In Dec of 2011 we allowed him to legit play the Wii for the first time.
While he RARELY played it over the years we did play it a decent number of times this past Christmas...we introduced Kye to the world of Mario Kart and who the heck can resist that?!?! We used to be SO hardcore about it back in the day haha! He, duh, LOVED it! Here's a video!
Every night Britt goes to bed at 7:00ish and Kye doesn't go to bed until 7:40ish so we have quality time with Kye playing board games. We play Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Hungry Hippos, etc etc etc. It's fun quality time and I love the lessons it teaches. We take turns going first each night and we all have our fair share of wins and loses. We use it as an opportunity to teach Kye how to be both a good winner and loser. We always shake hands and say "good game" no matter what the outcome! I enjoy that time together and I love all the things he's learning (plus most of the games are pretty educational too...counting, colors, memorization skills, etc).
When we allowed him to play the Wii with us a few times during that special game time together it was fun! We all had a great time and, let's be honest, Mario Kart is a lot more entertaining for Zach and I than Cootie is haha. I made the decision to allow him to play the game because I thought it'd be fun...I did NOT think about the big picture.
It quickly turned into a nightly round of begging to be allowed to play "the game on the tv" instead of a board game from the closet. I had become that parent dragging their kid kicking and screaming past the playground. Except this time it was past the tv. I didn't like the picture I was seeing. The cycle we were getting into. Our night time fun quality game time together had become not so fun anymore. Zach and I talked about it and he pointed out that Kye needed consistency with the "tv game" either we needed to let him know it'd be a certain day of the week (I wanted one night a month while Zach wanted one night a week haha) or we just cut it out all together.
We have gone the cut-it-out-all-together approach. Kye isn't old enough to fully understand time. He wouldn't understand "you get to play this game every Monday or every 15th of the month" or something like that. He'd still ask every night. It'd still be an issue. So it's better for him to just not play it at all right now.
I know many people reading this will think I'm harsh. Letting my kid play a video game for 20 min once a week (or once a month like I wanted haha) isn't a big deal. But we are very traditional when it comes to our kids and stuff like that. I personally believe that a lot of our country's problem with ADD and other attention issues comes back to video games, tv, and other forms of "mindless entertainment." Even I'm a victim of it! Heck who doesn't have their phone on them 24/7 and if we have even just a 2 min wait period somewhere we bust it out and check our Facebook or Twitter? I'm guilty of it too! I don't want that for my child. Especially not at the age of 3. I cannot STAND seeing families out to dinner and kids playing on their little handheld video systems. I equally cringe when I see parents ignoring their kids at dinner and messing with their phones too. Quality time is important!!! Our little 20-30 min of board game time together is SO valuable.
I also don't want to expose him to things at a young age that will cause him to crave more in the future. Like how they say smoking pot is a gateway to other drugs...I feel like if we let him play innocent games now he'll want more games in the future and it will be more likely for him to get bored with the innocent ones and start wanting the violent ones. We will never have violent games in our home so why not just save the innocent ones for when he is older? So hopefully he won't be wanting more mature games at a younger age and we won't have to deal with telling him no? It's like we see young girls being dressed by their parents to look like dang teenagers then we are shocked when they dress super provocatively in high school. Duh, if you let them wear slutty stuff when they are seven...it's only gonna get MORE slutty when they are 17...
People may say that I'm sheltering my kids, but that's fine. Our world is filled with evil and they will find that out soon enough. They will be faced with sinful temptations every time they leave the walls of our home. It's our job as their parents not to let those sinful things of the world into our home. It's our job to protect them from Satan and to prepare them to face him when they are out in the world.
Kye watches under 3 hours of total "tv" a week and that "tv" time is movies that I have seen. It's either Disney or Mighty Machines. If it's a new movie then Zach or I watch it together with him the first time he sees it. No, they aren't educational movies...but they have content that I have seen myself and know what he will be seeing. There are no commercials trying to lure him in (which is funny because at holidays he legit doesn't even know WHAT to ask for. If you ask him what he wants he usually says some kind of food item haha). In the car we either listen to Disney music, Christmas music, or KLove (a Christian station) or we just talk. Kye has only ever watched You Tube videos of himself or Britt...ones that are posted in our family You Tube Channel. He's only ever "played" on an ipad when he has watched a little of a FSU game or golf clip with Zach. Our kids never ever ever touch our phones unless they are handing them to us or talking to someone on them. And now our kids also do not play any "games on the tv."
And you know what? There have been NO issues about it! Kye has asked a couple of times if we can play the game on the tv and I just simply say no and it's been fine. No more whining or begging. I'm not saying he'll never be allowed to play it, as I'm sure he will be. But it will be when he is at an age to more appropriately handle it. Babywise talks a lot about parenting inside the funnel and how you have to find the right balance of proper freedoms for your child. Too much freedom is bad as is too little freedom. The 20 min of board game playing is just the right amount of freedom for Kye. He gets to choose the game each night and he gets to have special time with us without his sister. He gets to feel like the "big kid" because he's staying up a little later than she is and we get to feel good about not missing out on that time with him too.
While I'm disappointed in myself for ever allowing the video game cycle to start, I appreciate the lesson in it and the reminder I needed to always keep my mind on the big picture and to truly THINK about every parenting decision I make! Re-parenting is not fun and I'm so thankful it's not something I have to do very often!!!