Parenting 101: Rules

by Amalia

I was so happy when I found this parenting blog. Many parenting-related websites that I found did not suit me, but this one was something different. Sadly to say, there aren’t that many posts you can find there, but I greatly enjoy reading all of them! Cynthia, the blog owner, really knows how to tell stories and write them! Anyway…

One thing I like about her approach on how to parent is how she handled things without starting confrontations with her daughter Maia. Many parents set the I-am-right-and-you-have-to-obey-me and I-am-right-and-you-shouldn’t-ask-why-or-argue-about-it kind of rules. That’s probably the fastest way to handle it and get things done real quick. But I would agree more on her approach, by letting the kids violate the rule and learn the lesson by themselves.

When Maia insisted on not taking a bath and not sleeping early, Cynthia would let her do it. Eventually, she found out after few days that although she’s not smelly, she scratched her head all the time and felt so itchy. That’s when she understood that she had to take a shower everyday and no questions being asked anymore. The same thing with sleeping early, Cynthia told Maia that she would be responsible for it if she missed school (i.e. she would need to go to the head of school herself and Cynthia would not write an excuse letter for her). As expected, Maia missed her school. The next time Cynthia told her to go to bed, she went to bed straight away. No plea. No discussion. Nothing.

This is not an easy approach, I agree. It requires a lot of patient (and patient has never been in my department — I guess a bugis blood is to be blamed haha). When you disagree with your children, you would argue why they had to do it and they would argue you back. So it’s an endless journey, one of them — either the parents or the kids — need to give up. Eventually, you need to let the kids know why they need to obey your rules, instead of saying "Obey me, stop asking why!" or screaming or name-calling or punishing them.

I believe there is a reason in everything. But not every reason is "reasonable" enough to the kids. That’s why they tend to break the rules. But when they understand the consequences of not doing them, they tend to try to obey the rules. I have to agree with Cynthia, parents need to handle everything creatively if they want to avoid the shouting, screaming, and forcing. They need to present as many reasons as they can — creatively — to ensure the kids understand and satisfy with it.

Cynthia does have 5 rules set that were unbreakable. But these rules were strictly applied not only to her daughter, but the rest of the members in the house. That means, she and her husband had to conform to these rules as well. Parents are their role models, so when exceptions are made to the kid alone, they tend to break the rules. Simple things like, limiting the kids to watching TV maximum 2 hours a day — that needs to be obeyed by the parents too! If they want the kids to do what they expect, parents need to change their lifestyle and behavior.

But can everything be done using this approach? I’m actually not sure. Definitely, as a parent, there are certain things that you want your kids to do. Take for example: praying. What kind of argument would you give to the kids if they refuse to pray? Tell them that God would be angry? Tell them about the consequences in the hereafter? It definitely won’t work, simply because they can’t see the danger of not doing it now. Well, for me, the best solution would be to instill this ritual early on. Praying together rather than individually and setting it as an unbreakable rule for the whole family would work, I think. And of course, providing a good base on religious knowledge to the kids is important!That’s what I have in mind. That’s what I’ve observed or experienced. Clearly, I still have a lot of things to learn! 🙂