So, I’m pretty sure the title gave it away. And if you know my family, or have simply gotten to know me through my posts, then you may be well aware that I am the type-A of the house — impatient, aggressive, controlling, competitive, and yes, I am a rule follower. I sound like a real dreamboat, don’t I?
Yep, my husband is one lucky man. And speaking of him, well, he is type-B — relaxed, creative, reflective, has the uncanny ability to feel practically no stress ever, and often enjoys breaking the rules. Yep, you know his type… and isn’t that type annoying as heck? Okay, endearingly annoying in that they are not annoying at all, but really just too “chill” for your type-A comfort level.
My husband and I are not the only dichotomy of personalities in the house, and Delightfully Difficult, Exhaustingly Entertaining and Chaotically Charming actually discusses this. Still, my husband and I don’t mind being so different, personality wise, as it is kind of fun to live with your practical opposite. Yes, it can lead to disagreements (of which we have plenty), but it also leads to a lot of fun and we actually challenge each other to be better people because of it.
Still, there is one point of contention that we grapple with — whether or not our children always need to follow the rules.
Of course, my initial reaction is “100% yes — always follow the rules”. My husband, well his stance on rules is more like “eh, some you should follow, but some were made to be broken”. Break rules? What? Why in the world are you allowing and even encouraging our children to break any rules? What in the world are you thinking? And no, I don’t just think that, I tell him that — straight to his face. Then he tells me I’m a bore and to have some more fun — just a day in the life for us…
So, you can guess where our vocalized and differing opinions lead our kids — mhmm, right into a state of utter confusion — and then we get the “well Mommy said I can’t do that” and “but Daddy said that it is okay”. Oh, boy!
I’ll be honest here. I think that my husband is getting it slightly more right than me, although I will not say that a second time or put it in writing, but I think he is on to something and I’ll tell you why.
Rules are important — in fact, rules are really important and for the most part, rules are in place for a reason, or at least they should be… sadly though, this isn’t always the case. Rules should be used to keep people safe and to maintain order and organization. Rules are also important because depending on the circumstances there may be legal matters at hand, or fairness and consistency is needed. But, then there are other times when rules seem somewhat thoughtless, arbitrary, and are seemingly just there for the sake of being there.
Well, what do you think — should I hope that my children would just accept a rule that they find ineffective and unnecessary, (based on logic and reasoning, and not mere opinion)? Or alternatively, do I want them to speak up for what they believe in, to respectfully voice their misunderstanding and longing to make sense of these rules? If they knew that they could affect positive change in a matter via breaking a rule, would I still tell them not to do it?
This really got me thinking…pondering, if I have been making a mistake…have I been erringly instructing them to blindly accept authoritarian rules regardless of the substance and sense of the rule?
How I Reconcile
What I think now is this — I think that as with everything in life, there has to be a balance — a balance between being a “goody-goody” and for lack of a better term, being a “delinquent”. And yes, I understand that not every person who follows the rules qualifies as a “goody-goody”, and that not all who break the rules are “delinquents”. Still, I think you get the point I am trying to make.
There is a middle road — you can raise your child to be a person who is respectful of rules, but doesn’t abide by them aimlessly or without question. You can raise your child to be someone who is curious and aware enough to know if breaking an implemented rule will simply lead to fun, or if anyone will get or be hurt because of it.
The reality is that you can and should let your child break some rules, and that doesn’t make them a disrespectful person, or you a bad parent. Disrespectful people do break rules, and they do it with malicious motives; however, there are others who are great and respectful human beings, but who occasionally break rules based on pure desire to engage in innocent and harmless fun, or because the rule is nonsensical and shouldn’t be there in the first place. This I approve of.
I know this topic is a tough one and a bit confusing, at least for me. What is not confusing to me (and what I know is the right decision for my children) is to let them ride on the side of the shopping cart, let them sneak their favorite snack into the movie theatre, let them ride on a toy inside the store, and let them have chocolate for breakfast sometimes.
Life is too short for me to always be such a stick in the mud. However, I do believe that part of my “stickness” is the reason I have respectable, direction-following, good-listening children. But, I also want my children to have fun, be funny, and to make the most out of life. So, I guess it turned out pretty good for my kiddies that I married such a rascal of a man.