When I am in a reflective mood, I like to analyse, and maybe sometimes over analyse things. Lately I have been deeply thinking about my childhood, versus the one that I am giving my kids.
The thing is, it’s so easy to let your kids do things because it’s “the norm”. My kids love telling me that their friends are allowed to do things they are not allowed to do, and I am sure their friends do the same with their parents.
As a child, I grew up quickly and did more adult than kids things, such as selling Avon at age 10 because I wanted to earn my own money. I also organised and paid for my Mum’s 40th surprise birthday party at age 10, and I was singing in clubs with my dad at age 14. I never let my age determine what I could or could not achieve.
While I sometimes worry I expect too much from my kids, in our house, chores are a family sport and we all pitch in. I know many parents make their kids breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, they do their kids’ washing and all the chores so their kids can just ‘be kids’.
I admire that and I am sure my kids would love it if I waited on them hand and foot daily too, but I am proud that my 13 year old can cook a restaurant quality 3 course meal with no supervision from me.
Sure, it’s taken a lot of patience, confidence and trust to get there but I know that by not teaching him, I wouldn’t be doing him any favours. He needs to know these valuable skills when he leaves home. Plus it’s super awesome to get him to cook one night a week; he absolutely loves it and that is a huge bonus. My boys also fold and put away their own clothes and somehow we now don’t have so much washing to do!
What I have challenged myself on more than anything is my kids wanting their own phones. I remember my childhood, having to be where I said I would be and having no way to contact my parents if they weren’t at home. I had a lot of time waiting and wondering without a device to kill the time with and I had 1800Reverse if I really needed to speak with my parents, that is if they answered the home phone.
I walked to and from school and caught public transport and had to be where I said I would be and I rarely felt unsafe. If I did, I knew how I would seek out help, and I was taught how to protect myself.
This day and age, nearly all adults have a phone and millions of children do too. During my walk home from school as an 80’s child I’d be lucky to walk past one phone, now there are phones on nearly every single person. Sure, Stranger Danger- but really? If your child is suddenly feeling unsafe, they should be running to the closest safe adult to protect them, not grabbing their phone trying to call you where you can only listen and freak out.
My kids have put the “but everyone else has one” argument to me once, and we had a really great discussion about it. We thought deeply about the positives versus negatives, challenging our thinking and the “norm” on this topic.
For now, our family has decided no to have personal phones. Sure, this will change in the future, and I am aware that our kids need to learn how to use technology in a healthy way. But if their own parents struggle to use their phones in a healthy way, there is no way I can expect them to.
Sometimes parenting isn’t about doing what is easy, and following what is perceived as ‘the norm’. You need to do what you feel is right for your family, and every family is different.
So there you have it. My kids have no phones, and at this point, it’s staying that way. I am going to challenge more of my parenting in the future and see what 80’s parenting I can bring back into their lives because let’s face it, the 80’s were awesome for many reasons!
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