Friday, 21 June 2013

Dadism: Rules vs Values

Rules were made to be broken.

In our household at the moment we have a challenging eight year old boy who has us at our wits end. I don't mean a rolling our eyes, "boys will be boys" wits end. I mean real deal frustration. My eldest boy has a very quick but wandering mind. We go from being flabbergasted by his ability to recite facts and dates he read in a book two weeks ago and then equally astonished that every single day we need to remind him to do things like bring his shoes home from school.


Reading that last sentence doesn't make it seem such a big deal: Eight year old boys are notorious for being forgetful, having their mind 'somewhere else' and generally being the most frustrating creatures on Earth (will have to re-read this when I have teenagers). The thing is, my wife and I have to remind him to do the same things every single day. This has been going on for three years. I've gone full circle from being absolutely livid I have to have the same conversation each day about respecting his stuff, to just letting it go, to going back to feeling like tearing what hair I have left out.

It's got me thinking about what is really important. If I have to tell my son to bring his shoes home every single day what do I really care about? The shoes? Having the same conversation over and over again? The answer is always no. Shoes aren't cheap but they're replaceable. I'd rather not buy a new pair every week, but hey, such is parenthood.

Nope, the real lesson for him and for me is Rules vs Values. The rule is that you bring your shoes home. The value is that we respect our belongings. When I dig deep down to my frustration I keep coming back to the same mantra: Rules were made to be broken. Kids break rules. Kids test the boundaries. Kids forget things and need to be told over and over again. But, in my heart, what absolutely cannot be ignored are values.

Respect for others, respect your elders, look after your belongings, treat people how you want to be treated. All first day stuff really. It's what matters to me. It's what I want my children to carry with them throughout their life. I want them to know that those values are the cornerstone of what our family is about.

Rules? I can't get angry that you put an empty carton of milk back in the fridge because, hey, I do the same thing sometimes. But hitting your brother for accidentally stepping on your car you made out of Lego. That doesn't line up with our values.

At the end of the day what is really important? What can I let myself run around in circles about? What do I want to spend what little time I have with my boy enforcing? Rules or values? That's what I'm going to be working on this forthcoming week. As a sticker on my Aunty's fridge said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing". Amene.

The Larsen Family Values

  • Care for other people
  • Honesty
  • Respect for our belongings
  • Putting other people before ourselves
  • Do things to the best of our ability
  • Respect our elders

1 comment:

  1. Hey Abraham, I found your blog because I'm a 'blog friend' of Rhiannons. Keep up the great work - I'll have to send a link to my husband to have a read, its great to see a Dad taking such a keen interest in their kids. I totally agree with the rules/ values thing. I try to think about correcting the inward attitude of our kids, rather than caring so much about the perceived outward behaviour (or what others think of our kids). Once you get the values/ attitude right the behaviour will follow :)