I want to say, first and foremost, that this blog post is not me judging ANYONE. People who know me, know that the "mommy wars" regarding "My way is the best way, and your way is wrong," is one of my biggest pet peeves. I say, do what is best for YOUR family, and I will do what is best for mine, and as long as everyone has happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids, there is no one "right" way to parent. This blog post is SIMPLY my observations in my almost 16 years as a parent, and includes my personal beliefs.
As a mom of a 15 (almost 16!!!!) year old boy, a 13 year old boy, and a very, VERY strong-willed 11 year old girl, I have learned one VERY important lesson: Pick your battles. Yep, I know, we hear this over and over and over and over again, but for real, parents: Pick. your. battles.
My 11 year old daughter is, in many ways, a mini-me. She looks pretty much exactly like I did when I was 11. Put us side-by-side, and people comment on how "freakishly similar" our looks are. I'm sure I was very opinionated when I was 11. And now, I have a very opinionated, VERY strong-willed girl. Strong as in iron-clad strong. And I've learned that some things I need to just let go. She went to school this morning totally not matching. As in, pink plaid pants with a top with an intricate design on it not matching. I didn't care. Because, they're just clothes, and it isn't worth getting into an argument over, stressing us BOTH out for the rest of the day. When she had her cheerleading pictures taken, she wanted her hair in pigtails. In the past, I fixed her hair up all nice and pretty, and she looked adorable. But, she wanted pigtails this time around. And I let her. Because it shows who she REALLY is, what hairstyle she REALLY likes, and, in 20 years, I'll probably think it's adorable. (Which, I DID think was adorable-I just LOVE fixing her hair). These things aren't worth arguing over to me. When she's 16, I'm sure we'll have many, MANY battles that outweigh her mismatched outfit, or a hairstyle that isn't a big deal. And, when we go through these colossal battles, I don't want her to have to say, "You try to tell me what to do ALL THE TIME!" I think it's important for my kids to be able to dress in the clothes they like, and wear their hair the way they like it, even if it's not my favorite look, because they have more say in their appearance than I do. To them, it's an expression of their personality. It's one of the few things they, as children, have major control over. It's something they can decide on for themselves. As long as clothing is appropriate (no murder-y t-shirts, short shorts, or revealing clothing), I really don't care. It's not a battle worth starting.
The battles I am willing to create and sustain, for the foreseeable future, is the monitoring of what my kids listen to and watch. Now, I want to remind my blog readers (how many do I have? 3? 4?) that I am in no way judging parents who allow their children to do the following things. It's my decision as the parent of MY children to not allow it. My daughter tells me that her friends are allowed to watch this tv show, and listen to this music, and see this movie, and have SnapChat accounts, and YouTube accounts..."so whyyyy can't I? It's not fair! You're too overprotective of me! My friends can do so and so" ...
The thing is, my children live in a Christian home. And I try to protect them from things that I feel they are too young to be exposed to. Songs with sexual innuendos and cursing, inappropriate tv shows (I don't even let my 15 year old watch 'The Big Bang Theory' unless it's an episode I have seen and feel is appropriate for a person his age), movies with content I feel they don't need to be exposed to...And yet, people argue that I'm sheltering them, and when they go into the real world, it will be "shell shock" for them. Not really. See, my son is in high school. Public high school. He hears foul language every day. It makes him uncomfortable, because we don't curse in my house. We don't listen to music with cursing in it. We don't listen to the radio most of the time, unless it's, like, WROV (mostly classic rock), and I still change the station if a song comes on that I don't want them to listen to. My son is exposed to this every day, and he has made the conscious decision that he does not like cursing.
When they are older, and in the real world, and have been exposed to grown-up situations, I hope that the influences they had at home will help them to make wise and mature decisions that will please God. For now, they are children, and they don't need to be exposed to the "reality" of the real world yet. They are too young and not emotionally mature enough to deal with these situations yet, and this is one particular battle I have chosen to fight for.