1. I don’t make my kids eat their veggies.
I have super picky eaters for kids. Well, okay, two somewhat picky eaters, and one SUPER picky eater. Early on however, I decided that I would not allow food to become a battle ground. Eating food together as a family at least once each day is a ritual I do not want to compromise, even if the “eating” part of it isn’t completely literal. Here’s the deal: I make dinner, and I put it on the table. If someone at the table chooses not to eat some or any of that food, that’s fine. However, they must sit with the family, they will not get any alternatives, and they may not express anything negative about the food. As long as my kids are growing well, I see no need to change things. Since my kids are among the healthiest kids I know, with few sicknesses, fewer doctor’s visits, and no major behavioural issues, I see no reason to change that. I find far more benefit in having our kids sit with their mother and father at the end of the day for at least a few minutes of togetherness, as well as learning social skills and manners, than in having the dinner table become a tense, unwelcome time for everyone, just so I can make sure my kids eat every last morsel.
2. I don’t make my kids fold their laundry.
My kids shove their clothes into their drawers. I know, I know, it’s terrible. They put their own clothes through the washer (when I remind them to), and they put them in the dryer (with more reminders), and then they put their dry clothes into their drawers … completely unfolded (*gasp!*). The truth is, my kids, ages 13, 11, and 6, do their own laundry (reminders notwithstanding). And they wear wrinkled clothes. Not a bad trade-off, all things considered. The battle I DO fight? Clothes left on the floor drive me batty. I can not stand them. Dirty, clean, it doesn’t matter. There is never a good reason for clothes to be on the floor. But wrinkled clothes? That I can handle.
3. I make my kids wear “church clothes”.
As my kids point out at least once a month, “nobody else” has to wear church clothes to church. And I totally understand other parents when it comes to this — worshipping and learning about God is not about “looking good” or acting a certain way. I simply choose to use church as an opportunity to teach my kiddos how to show respect in the way we present ourselves. I wouldn’t let my kids wear a t-shirt to a funeral for the same reason. At a funeral, we’re showing respect for a life lived and lost. At church, we’re showing respect for the Creator of the Universe who holds our very breath in His hand. So we have “church clothes” that must be chosen from each Sunday. Sure they’re wrinkled, and probably no one else notices any difference, but my kids do. And they know why those clothes are special.
4. I never once left a grocery store because of a child’s tantrum.
When my boys were little, one in particular was the Master of Tantrums. He was SO good at them, our friends would refer to any tantrum in general, by our son’s name. He was truly awe-inspiring in his tantrum-throwing skills. But he hated shopping and would throw a fit whenever we went to get groceries. I never gave in and left the store, contrary to the popular wisdom of the time. You see, every parenting book and every bit of advice that I read or heard, said to immediately remove your child from the situation if they threw a fit. But that was exactly what my child wanted. If I had given in to that demand, I would still be giving in, and I would still be dealing with World Class tantrums on a daily basis. I apologize profusely to everyone who had to endure the sight and sound of those fits (yes, even the passersby that shook their heads and rolled their eyes). But look at it as me doing you a favour — spoiled kids turn into spoiled adults that stand with their hands and mouths wide open, waiting for YOUR tax dollars to feed and house them. Really, YOU should be thanking ME.
And to the exhausted mom with the screaming kid I passed at Walmart last night: You didn’t see me smile at you because you were avoiding eye contact with everyone in the store. Your little boy wanted a new toy and didn’t like the answer “no”. If I had a chance to talk to you, I would have told you that you’re doing an amazing job and you’re a wonderful mother who is investing wisely in your child’s future! Keep it up, girl!
5. I let my kids get bored. Like, really bored.
I don’t feel obligated to keep my kids busy every minute of the day. This is for one very selfish reason: I love listening in when they get SO bored that the creative juices start flowing. Elaborate story lines and unique (or borrowed) characters emerge, either verbally or on paper, as a group or individually, when there is nothing else getting in the way. Leadership skills, team work and consideration for others also surface and are developed and refined when my kids are so bored that they resort to what they call “talk-play”.
And that’s why I’m a Terrible Mom. Then again, maybe some of those reasons aren’t so terrible after all …