I have a different way of looking at life. It works for us. It may work for you, or you may already be doing things this way… But it is not the norm.
1. I believe the ‘best’ I should look is in the bedroom for my husband. I have heard too many guys in the dojang complain that their wife dresses up for everyone but them, and by the time they get to bed she has no make-up on and stuff on her face they are afraid to kiss. I vowed never to be like this. Want to see me at my best, well that would be awkward!
2. I believe that my husband should have just as much of a say in how the house is set up and how the children are raised as I do. It is his house and they are his children too. I vowed never to act like I was the only one who knew anything about how a house is to be run and how children are to be raised. I married a good, intelligent man and vowed to treat him as he deserves by not disrespecting his wishes in these areas. I have seen too many men want to be a part of the household but give up because their wife corrects everything they do. Ironically, these men consider themselves to be the ‘head of the house!’ My husband can do laundry, load a dishwasher and feed a baby any way he wants. He can also do projects in the house, rather than the garage, put his feet on his furniture and stack things he is currently using where they are convenient for him. He lives here too.
3. I believe my children should do as much as they are capable of doing for themselves. Eventually my children will leave my house to establish their own homes. By the time they go they should be able to do their own laundry, cook, clean, handle money and take care of their car. By doing these things for them I am hindering their ability to handle the adult world. If these things are second nature then they will be able to get them done quickly in a way that won’t interfere with the other things they need to do in life.
4. We do not make young children tithe. Their money is family money and has already been tithed on, but more importantly they do not understand and are tempted to cheat, steal or become upset over their perception that their money was taken from them. Money that comes from outside the household is tithed on. When they are old enough to work for others (baby sitting, yard work etc), they are old enough to understand the concept of tithing and it is now that they can choose to do so. We teach about tithing and set a good example for them by giving our own tithes and offerings so my children have not had trouble with this. Arguments with a five year old over ‘their’ money are just not worth it. Tithing requires more maturity than a little one has. Heck, it is a tough concept for many adults!
5. We don’t do Santa Claus, the tooth fairy etc. When we first adopted our older children it was obvious they already knew and were testing us. We told the truth, and decided to give it up since we knew they would not respect our wishes and would tell our younger children anyways. This was the best decision we ever made concerning these holidays. Instead of the children thinking that some all-knowing being was going to bring them everything they ever wanted, our children knew that their fallible parents were buying the gifts. They did not get upset when everything they wanted was not under the tree and they were very appreciative since they knew we had done all of this for them. My older son recently came to me and said that, if his future wife agreed, he really did not want to do Santa Claus. Why? Because he wanted his children to know that he did this for them so they know how much he loves them. Yep. That’s what he got out of our doing it this way. Pretty cool, huh? (When the tooth fairy needs to come I actually ask my children if they want me to hand them the dollar, or try to sneak in and hide it for them. They almost always choose ‘hide it’ and even though they know, they have not caught me yet! By the way- if you do the tooth fairy thing and ‘forget,’ go into the room with a dollar hidden in your hand and ‘help’ them search. Chances are it just fell out from under the pillow onto the floor or something…)
6. Boys should learn about housework and cooking and girls should learn about cars and mowing grass etc. Why? Because even if they do end up in a more traditional marriage there will likely be a time when they are single, or a time when their spouse is not there to handle these things for them. It is also a blessing for a spouse to be able to ‘help’ when life gets busy, or they just want to bless the other person. It’s hard to have a ‘servant’s heart’ when you are incompetent when it comes to the type of ‘service’ that would help most.
7. I do not do anything I am paying someone else to do. If I am paying for chores to be done, the person getting paid should do them. Holding your children accountable teaches them to budget their time and get the things they need to do done. Too many parents have mercy in this area and their children are poor employees later. When they are older they will be responsible for all of the chores. Having them do one or two now is not unreasonable. (I consider the fact that a local pizza place calls our house when they need an employee to see if we have any more kids available to work a huge compliment.)
8. If you live in the house, you contribute to the house. No one who is able lives in the house without pitching in and helping with the work of the house. What you do is negotiable, but you will do something. Too many ‘adult’ kids sit on their parents’ couches, eat their parents’ food and use their parents’ hot water without working on getting any farther in life. This may be because it is too comfortable at home. If you are in an adult body, you can do adult work. I will not be working harder than you. (School and employment count in the total overall work the child is doing.) If the child has no job and is not going to any type of school then bonus, I have a live-in housekeeper! The Bible tells us that children are a blessing. I fail to see how someone whose only contribution is to sit on my couch, eat my food and use up my hot water is ‘blessing’ me!
9. A child is not an adult until they are fully supporting themselves. If we, as parents are paying for any part of your life then we have a say in your life. We want to know what we are investing in. So, if I am paying for college, I have a right to ask about grades etc. If you are living under my roof, I have a right to know where you are and what you are doing. This is not unreasonable. If I am paying, or in any way supporting something, there should be some accountability. I don’t care how ‘old’ you are, if you don’t like it, start supporting yourself- please!
10. I have boundaries, and if you cannot behave you can leave. I do not hang out with people who yell at me, start fights etc. I also will not make it easy on you to do the wrong thing. I do not help deadbeat dads be deadbeats, nor do I support abuse. If we need to move the girl and the children into our home to keep her safe we will (and have done so, more than once). And typically the girl is good company and helps with the housework, bonus for me!
11. We try to worry about what is right, and not what other people will think. Some days are better than others when raising children. If my child stole, we deal with it. We do not hide it so that we do not look bad.
12. Some battles are not worth fighting. When we first adopted children there were so many issues that we picked the top ones and worked on them, and only them (unless something became urgent and needed to be handled). This kept life manageable. There are ‘big’ issues that need to be dealt with now, and little things that should be dealt with, but can wait. Often, if you try to do it all, you end up focusing on the little things (they tend to be the annoying things) and you lose the big battles. For example: The child now knows not to sing at the top of their lungs in the house, but still steals everything that is not bolted down when you are out. Big things need to be dealt with first. We actually went on ‘practice’ shopping trips to learn how to behave. Since I had nothing I needed to buy, I could keep more of an eye on the children and focus on their behavior. Eventually we could all go shopping together without major issues arising. Even with children that do not have major issues, is it really so bad that she goes shopping in her princess dress? There will come a day when she does not want to wear it anymore, and at five it’s really cute. Too many little rules that do not make sense make for a very tense household. And heck, if she brings the wand she will be less likely to want to grab something off the shelf that she really, really wants and throw a fit since her hand is already occupied! (Or she may hit her brother with it…)
I hope this helps. Always remember, every family is unique. What works for me may not work for you. Talk to your spouse and modify things as necessary.