Have you ever seen those children who sit with their parents through church or sit through a meeting without moving or making a peep?
One day at my office job a family with four children came in. The four kids sat silently in the lobby while their parents had a meeting with my boss. When they left my boss came out and said, “Those kids are home-schooled. It always seems that the home-schooled children are always well-behaved.”
Well, as a current homeschooling mom of three let me just say, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” But at the time I was 100% like, “Yep, that’s gonna be me someday.” Because you know how pre-parenting expectations are.
Suffice it to say that my kids are NOT like that in any way, shape, or form.
My kids basically never stop moving. Okay, my kids are wild. They have crazy ideas and as one of my friends commented the other day, “I think their love language is DANGER!”
I choose to blame part of this on genetics/history. My biological two obviously get it from my insanely active and wild brother. My adopted daughter has a wild streak from somewhere, in addition to her trauma history that can make her behaviors challenging at times.
Like most personality traits though, I tend to think that some of it is how they’re made, and some of it comes from how they’re raised.
Which means I’m required to take some blame here. Actually, I’m happy to do so. Let me tell you why.
People are constantly complaining about their kids being too idle.
It’s not that this isn’t ever an issue in our house, because it certainly is. But we also encourage activity in a way that’s fun for our kids. I don’t just encourage “safe” activities and hover over them. We have a gymnastics bar in our living room. My oldest uses the hallway as some sort of ninja course. They all use our furniture (which is second-hand on purpose) as an obstacle course. We have rings and a trampoline outside. We want them to be active and we’re willing to assume SOME amount of risk to make it enticing for them to do so.
I don’t like to say “no” for no reason.
I want to foster creativity in my children. When they have an idea, even if it might take a lot of work or be messy, I try to say “yes” when possible unless there’s a good reason not to. Or if it involves sand. Or slime.
(To be clear, I’m talking about saying “yes” to ideas and experiences, NOT to material possessions. I say “no” to almost every request to buy something unless my child has money of their own.)
I can be very rigid and sometimes need to loosen up a bit.
To be honest, I’m the type of person who loves a schedule, a plan, to be in control of everything. When my oldest was little I started to see her pick up on some of my perfectionist tendencies. While I’m fine with my kids getting some of my personality, I would prefer it to be my kindness and love for people and not my need to have everything perfectly in control. So I try to take time-outs from my day to have dance parties and do headstands and all those things they don’t expect from their otherwise “not fun” mom. I’m learning through teaching them.
There are certainly downsides to having somewhat wild children.
The main issue with having somewhat wild children is that we have to work REALLY hard with them on how to act elsewhere. While we may not have a lot of strict house rules, we recognize that other people have different rules, that they have them for a reason, and that we need to be respectful of that. That can be hard for little ones to grasp. It’s been helpful to start with houses of close friends and work from there. Overall they’ve done okay as they continue to grow and mature.
That being said, there is one rule we try to always be consistent on.
We expect our kids to listen and obey when we (or someone in charge) tell them something. Especially because we try not to say “no” a lot, that means when we do say it, we mean it. Our kids have certainly not perfected listening and obeying (and some are a lot further from the goal than others), but as parents, it’s our biggest goal. This rule is the most important to us because no matter how much freedom we give our kids in certain areas, we also want them to stay safe and be respectful of others.
What about you? Do you give your kids a lot of freedom at home or do you prefer a house that’s in order? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between? Tell me all of your ideas to have a good balance with this issue.
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