Friday, March 23, 2007

whose room is it anyway

Warning: serious post ahead.

Being a Mom has many challenges. Lately I've been running through a big one, learning to change my perceptions as my children get older. When they were young and I was in complete control it was easier but now I'm evolving along with them. Understanding that at some point they have to make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes. With two over 18 you'd think I'd have that part down pat but I don't. I'm still working on it and I suspect it's a life-long endeavor.

I had an interesting discussion the other day with someone whose children are still in elementary school. I was talking about how I have learned to let go of certain things that I used to control very tightly (what my children watched on tv, what books they read, those kinds of things). I casually mentioned that I had turned off the parental controls on V's computer access because I felt that at 18 she was old enough to have learned the lessons we hoped to impart to her and that at some point she's going to have to learn to deal with what is out there in the big wide world. This other person disagreed with me mentioning that she felt I allowed my children too much access to things that she wouldn't let her children near.

Another friend told me she thinks my children are too sheltered and too naive because her children know "how things really are" and that she feels I am doing my children a disservice by not allowing them to see the world as it exists around them.

Someone else told me I am too soft on my children and they need to be exposed to harsh realities to help them "get tough".

That's okay, everyone has different view points but it's been an interesting couple of weeks. It also made me think. How the heck do we do this? How do we learn to make these decisions and when to allow our children to grow into their own sense of responsibility and maturity? D is about to turn 13. That means PG-13 movies will now be allowed. That's a big thing in this house. Of course about two weeks later it will turn into a request for R movies because "everyone watches them" and the movie ratings battle will continue for another 4 years. I've been through it with the other two and I know it's coming. My response is always, "But you're going to be over X for the rest of your life, why are you in such a hurry to get there?" It's also because I do believe that if they are overly exposed to some of this stuff it is densensitizing. So I pull parental rank and say no.

A new area of "letting go" has been their rooms. In the past I had certain expectations about how they kept their rooms. Beds had to be made, closets neat, a place for everything and everything in it's place. But as the kids have gotten older they seem to have gotten messier. And the mess spread out all over the place, the kitchen, living room, hallway, basement. It radiated all over the house. I spent hours working with them (and frequently by myself if the truth be told) picking up the house. Then we would work together to reorganize their rooms, literally hours spent sorting, hundreds spent on organizing thingies, only to have it fall apart again. Meanwhile I was becoming exhausted, frustrated and felt that I was at my wits end trying to stay on top of this.

Talking to another friend I have changed my viewpoint. I now allow them to keep their room however they want it as long as it is not unhygenic (in other words too smelly). I simply close the door every morning when they leave for school and ignore their rooms completely. In return they keep their junk out of the rest of the house. If they don't I ask them once to pick it up. If they don't I put it all in a bag, open the door to their room, put the bag in there and then close the door. The end result? The house is a lot cleaner! It's amazing how that works. Their rooms? Well let's just say I'm tempted to buy a "this property condemned" sign or some of that "police line do not cross" tape. But the good news is, I just close the door. I take a good whiff every morning before I do, if the room smells I tell them and they are required to take care of it. I'll be honest if I look at their room too much it drives me absolutely insane. I can't imagine trying to function with toys and such all over the place. But it's worth the price of my sanity to let them try to figure this out for themselves.

I guess the answer is we just keep trying. Talk to others, try those things that sound workable for us and if they don't work try something else. In other words, keep evolving.

1 comment:

Melissa R. Garrett said...

Oh here we go again! It will be a really great day when parents can be accepting of how other parents choose to raise their families. You just have to do what works for you, and it sounds as though you have a good handle on it. Of course mine are still young and I pull parental rank on them ALL the time but it's like the psychologist so eloquently reminded me about Jacob, you just have to pick your battles. By the time I was nineteen, I had already left home and moved halfway across the country ALL BY MYSELF. By all means I did not have a great upbringing - I was exposed to A LOT of bad things. And yet, I felt my childhood and adolesence was a lesson in what NOT to do as a mom. I think my parenting style is somewhat middle of the road. While I am definitely not the type to shelter too much, on the same time I will not throw my kids out to fend for themselves. RE: the mess - boy can I relate! Their rooms - let's not even talk about that! We usually set the timer and have a 30 minute clean up each day. That seems to help (a little!).