While my husband and I are trying to gracefully navigate through the treacherous waters of parenthood, I started to feel like we were barely keeping our heads above water, once again. As I stated in, About Peace of Cake Parenting, we weren’t given the best examples and we still have a lot to learn. Most of the time we learn by trial and error.
To say we had a rough couple of weeks with the kids would be an understatement. We found ourselves, frustrated, disappointed, and talking about where we were going wrong. One thing you will learn to do with this new method of parenting, is to keep things under control. I know, I just said I was struggling. However, I didn’t let this behavior continue without doing something about it. My husband and I were brainstorming again when I realized; we set house rules but we hadn’t set boundaries.
How, I thought, could I have forgotten one of the basics of every functional relationship? Well, because I haven’t been a part of many functional relationships myself. I had to cut myself some slack on that one and just be proud that I figured it out.
After my husband and I hugged & kissed, we got right down to business. We made a list of the boundaries we have for the kids. These may be different for every household and maybe even for every child. Here are a few of the ones we came up with that I think are a little more universal:
- 1) If someone says “leave me alone”, you must leave that person alone.
- This is difficult for parents because we don’t want to “abandon” our children, we want them to know how much we care about their feelings. You sometimes need to reiterate to them that, taking some time isn’t about ignoring them but that it is about taking care of you.
- Now, I am talking about when you need to get something done. For instance I need to read my self help books in order to continue the self work that needs to be done to keep me on the path of being a good mother.
- So when you are asking to be left alone, it needs to be for a reasonable amount of time. I would argue, no more than an hour. This should be enough time to: work out, read, complete a chore, etc. If what you need to do takes more than an hour, you can either: wait until you have someone (spouse, parent, etc) who can give your child the attention they will be seeking, or take a break and finish what you are doing later.
- For instance when I am writing a new article for my blog I wait until my husband is home because there is a good chance I will be writing for more than an hour. Someone may start to feel truly abandoned if you request to be left alone for more time than that.
- Of course, make sure to remind them that you will be back to giving them all your attention after you have taken care of whatever you need to take care of.
2) If you are not having a productive conversation, the conversation ends for 10 minutes, then try again.
When a conversation isn’t going anywhere, you shouldn’t continue being unproductive and frustrate everyone involved. Let everyone take 10 minutes to do whatever they want to do. Yes, this means the children can play for these 10 minutes. You must commit to coming back to the conversation after 10 minutes. We decided we would set a timer in order to assure everyone knows when to return to the conversation, without any argument as to how much time had passed.
To ignore a talk that needs to be had is to tell the child, explicitly, that communication is not important. If your child is going to be capable of a healthy relationship, then the communication skills absorbed are more than important, they’re fundamental. Usually, after everyone has a chance to clear their minds for a few minutes, the conversation will become productive.
I would say to use this boundary as a stepping stone. After functional communication becomes a more prominent part of your child’s environment, unproductive conversations tend to disappear. I haven’t had to use this step for several months. It was extremely helpful when our conversations were still escalating quickly and we were not as experienced in our communication skills.
3) No leaving a mess in one room before moving into another room.
This is my husband’s biggest pet peeve, when the entire house looks like a toy tornado went through it. I don’t blame him. Of course, the children should be able to play without worrying about cleaning up, in one room. They should not be allowed to destroy one room and then move to another and destroy that one.
What I love about this one is the universality of it. We are huge on cleaning up after ourselves. So I can easily ask, “do I leave a mess in the bathroom when I am finished getting ready for the day”? When they see you aren’t asking more from them than you do of yourselves, they are more than willing to accept the premise.
4) No more rewards – you do the right thing because it is the right thing.
I was a big believer in the reward system, as most parents are. Who doesn’t want to reward their babies for making good choices? This may work at first, but in the end they will confuse the reasoning behind why they should make the right choice. If you start hearing your children saying things like, “I want to do this so I can get..”, then the child has lost sight of why they should do the right thing. You devalue the virtue in the ethics you are trying to teach them when they think choosing to do right will get them a reward.
Now, earning money for chores is different. If my children want to earn money they can do chores such as: cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning (certain things) in the bathroom, etc. Making the right choice, to follow the house rules and to be virtuous should not be rewarded with anything other than encouragement.
Peaceful-parenting is about a lot of things: giving our children better communication and relationship building skills, being peaceful, showing the true meaning of love, having fun, being creative, giving them a better life, etc (I could go on forever). Peaceful-parenting is not about: having a dictator in the house. The dictator is usually the parents, but sometimes it’s the child if the parents aren’t able to identify certain problems. I am currently reading The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field – Nathaniel Branden, which helps me to identify problems within myself and, an added bonus, within the family. When you know what problems to focus on, it becomes easier to come up with a solution.
This big “setting boundaries” talk we had, ended up being way too much fun. We all got to have a chance to talk and say what was on our minds. We even added a couple of things to our House Rules, which I can say for certain now, needed updating! Then after we set our boundaries the kids got a chance to set theirs. They came up with some pretty unique ideas.
Family meetings show the entire family how important the group is and encourages self work for everyone. I encourage you to make it a regular part of your life!
Home schoolers!! Click this link (Peace Of Cake Parenting) and check out the best home school curriculum I have ever seen!