17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fun Mom or Child Enabler? You Decide.

In the eighteen blissful months of marriage DH and I had together before the arrival of our first child, I often thought about what we would be like as parents. I assumed DH would be soft with the kids and I would be the disciplinarian. This fit our personalities more, I figured. In reality, he plays bad cop to my good cop.

My children get timeouts and I do strive to consistently enforce the rules we have, but it turns out DH is a firm disciplinarian and doesn't let our boys get away with nearly as much as I do.

Lately, I've been wondering if I let them get away with too much. They are pretty easygoing kids right now, but I wonder if this is going to catch up with me in a few years. One of them is going to come home with purple hair and pierced nipples and I am going to be asking myself, what happened? I thought I was doing everything right...

So you get to decide...... Am I Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

1. Jumping on the bed. I'm fine with it, although I was never allowed to do it as a child. It gets their energy out on days when it is too rainy/cold to go outside and we've only had a couple of bruised noggins. I usually turn the music up and we dance and jump and laugh. Sometimes even before bedtime. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

2. No early bedtimes, although their drop dead be-in-bed-or-else time is 9pm. This isn't a problem for my 2-year old. By 7:30 he is waiting by his bed for his bedtime story and already announcing his goodnights to anyone who will listen. My 4-year old will usually wait it out until 9, although I will turn him in earlier if he is especially tired. Although the time is not set, I do have a set bedtime routine for both of them. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

3. Riding tricycles in the house. We have hardwoods and I figure, hey, it's cold out and we're renting. The rules might change shortly when we move into our own home. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

4. Deep water recovery missions for matchbox cars. Just today, we were walking to the neighborhood park. We made our usual stop to ooh and ahh at the overpass with the creek running below it. Two-year-old Asher carries matchbox cars around like rag dolls and had brought along a few for the walk. He managed to drop/throw (this is still a point of dispute) one over the overpass into the water....and yes....I climbed down and fished it out of the icy current for him. My rule is that if it's thrown...it's gone...if it's dropped....I'll try to save it. Since there was some ambiguity surrounding how the car arrived in the creek, I went for save. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

5. Short order cooking. I will admit, this screams "Child Enabler" although I do have my 4-year-old off gluten and casein (wheat and dairy), which severly limits what I can cook for him and what he can eat. I can't completely get used to child cuisine, however, so lately it is three meals: one for the 2-year old, one for gluten/casein free child and one for DH and I. This has got to stop....you don't get to vote on this one.


  • I'm very strict. If I put down a rule, that is IT. but... I don't ever give an instruction or boundry that I'm not 100% willing and available to enforce. So, my kids do get to do a lot of things that just don't bug me, or aren't worth making into an issue. I don't want to control their every move, I want them to have independance. It may seem that they're really "getting their way" or getting to be wild.
    But it doesn't follow that I'm a wimpy disciplinarian. My boundaries are clear and consequences are super consistent. (with my special needs kid, they absolutely have to be)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/21/2007 12:08:00 PM  

  • I vote Fun Mom on everything (well, except the last one cuz I'm not allowed a vote). I think that when I have kids, I'm totally going to jump on the beds with them! I'm so jealous.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/21/2007 12:15:00 PM  

  • I would say you're a fun mom. There are some things that just aren't that big of deal, and I think you've listed some good ones....well....okay, I'm a stickler with early bedtimes, but that's me. My kids (including my almost 6 yr old) are in bed by 7:30PM (that means we start around 7PM to get ready) and they sleep until about the same time the next morning. I love that too much to change it. :)

    But for everything else? Yeah, my kids jump on some beds, too... (just not other people's beds!!).
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/21/2007 04:03:00 PM  

  • FUN MOM!
    posted by Blogger Mel at 1/21/2007 05:31:00 PM  

  • I go with fun mom on everything except the bedtimes.
    posted by Anonymous mim at 1/21/2007 05:41:00 PM  

  • I see myself more as a firm disciplinarian (except for the days when I am feeling really tired). I didn't think I would be. But I also hope I am a fun mom too.

    To me, one the differences between fun mom and child enabler is not so much based on a set of actions, but the attitude behind the action. If you make a decision to let your child do something (when you would rather they not) because you don't want/too tired to face the immediate consequences (ie: tantrum, angry child who says you are a mean mom) then I think you end up being more of enabler. But if your decisions are based on house rules (ie: in our house, it is okay to jump on the beds because I don't mind it. But it is not okay to throw balls in the house even if you think it is fun and you cry when I tell you to stop) then I think you can call yourself a Fun Mom all the way. So, based on my distinction, it sounds like you are mostly a Fun Mom - except for the meals because you are obviously not okay with the status-quo and maybe the one deep water recovery-- :).

    The only backlash I see is trying to teach kids that the "fun things" we allow at home are not necessarily allowed at other peoples homes and they should never assume that they are. It might be hard for them to understand the difference at a young age.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/21/2007 08:54:00 PM  

  • On a recent road trip with my Aunt Carrie I remember her telling me something along lines that no matter how many times you screw up as a parent your kids generally turn out okay. I don't think you need to worry too much about whether or not you are having too much or not enough fun. After recently leaving home for college, I have come to find that those mud fights in the backyard with my mom did not instill in me rebellion because I was not rebelling, she was there playing along. I think it is the kids who's parents were never around who scream out for attention through rebellion.
    posted by Anonymous Maria at 1/21/2007 09:33:00 PM  

  • I agree with chrissy. You have to set up your own rules and disciplines...and since I know you, I doubt you are an enabler.

    However, I would NOT let my kids ride tricycles in the house, I would NOT retrieve toys out of the water, and I tend NOT to make three separate meals (though I totally understand the allergy or other dietary concerns, situation), and my kids go to bed at 7 and they know it's not negotiable. There are exceptions for parties/holidays/traveling and when they get older, I will let them stay up late on the weekends to watch a movie or whatever sounds fun.

    I think the question for me would be: fun mom or mean mom? I would like to think I am a fun mom, because aside from disciplining, I also dance with them when we play music, drive fast over bumps in the road, read books with them, cook with them, and just yesterday, played explorer with them, I also let them play in the shower a little longer than my water bill might like.

    I think what I am trying to teach them is that if there is order in our lives, then there is more room for fun or fulfilling our wants and desires...but it's not a free ride.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/22/2007 05:57:00 AM  

  • ps...carrie: "The only backlash I see is trying to teach kids that the "fun things" we allow at home are not necessarily allowed at other peoples homes and they should never assume that they are."

    I know of someone who wants to friendship another mom and child, and it is so hard on her b/c that child comes over and does things that are not allowed in her home, and the mom does nothing to help stop it...frustrating....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/22/2007 05:59:00 AM  

  • "on a recent road trip with my Aunt Carrie I remember her telling me something along lines that no matter how many times you screw up as a parent your kids generally turn out okay."

    I do remember saying something like that, but out of context it sounds a little wierd! I think I was quoting my mom and said parents aren't perfect, we just try to do enough things right.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/22/2007 07:59:00 AM  

  • Fun Mom.

    But when your oldest starts kindergarten next year, I'd advise putting him on a 7:15 bedtime.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 1/22/2007 08:28:00 AM  

  • FUN MOM. I hope I am just like you.

    We were allowed to jump on our beds (they were always old beds that were passed down so it wasn't that big of deal) and we could go crazy jumping in hotel rooms. But I never went to a friends house and jumped on their beds - and I don't think my siblings did either. We DEFINITELY didn't jump on the beds when we stayed at Grandmas house either. Not sure how my mom ensured that we didn't run amuck at others homes - but we didn't.
    Also, on bedtimes - you have a firm bedtime. My friends daughter (who is my sons age) goes to bed at 6.30pm every night - she couldn't keep her up later if she wanted to. My son goes to bed around 9 or 9.30 - but he sleeps until 8 or 8.30 and I LIKE it that way and he seems to like it that way and does just fine. I don't think the actual time is as much the issue as if they actually have a bed time. Letting your kids stay up until whenever they want will never be ok in this house and it doesn't sound like the tail is wagging the dog in your home either.
    FUN MOM.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 1/22/2007 09:33:00 AM  

  • I vote for Fun Mom too, except on the riding tricycles in the house on the hardwood. Because it's not your property that's being damaged, it sounds irresponsible to me. Especially since you admit that you'd probably change that rule if you moved into a home of your own.
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 1/22/2007 10:22:00 AM  

  • Proud Mother of Eve, I definitely opened myself up to criticism when I wrote this post....but to explain myself a little further....I did consider the trikes in the house carefully. I spend my entire day (when he isn't in school or therapy), trying to keep my 4-year old w. autism motivated and occupied so he is learning and not "going back to his own world." He is highly motivated by riding his trike and actually has done a lot of learning on it (I taught him stop and go, etc.) We clean the trike carefully when it comes inside after being outside. I was also prepared to pay to refinish the hardwoods if necessary, but as far as I can tell the floor is in as good of condition as when we moved in...so it probably won't be necessary. And I fibbed, I will let him ride in our new house. I respect your point, though, and would have probably thought the same thing if I had read it...especially since we have been and will once again be landlords ourselves.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/22/2007 01:31:00 PM  

  • oops...that last comment was to Proud Daughter of Eve...typing too fast and not thinking...sorry!

    Thanks for all of the "Fun Mom" votes, but the more I think about it, I'm really not. The more I thought, the more house rules I came up with. We seem to be having a momentary (key word: momentary) stage where my boys aren't pushing these rules, so I'm not constantly saying "no" and doling out consequences. I'm sure this time will return very soon. Meantime, it's fun feeling feeling like "Fun Mom."

    I do appreciate a lot of the thoughts/feedback though. I've never been big into reading books on the subject, so it's always good to hear other great mom's thoughts and advice.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/22/2007 01:37:00 PM  

  • Jen, I'd definitely say fun mom, too. I was gonna comment on the trikes in the house, too, but after reading your explanation and the motivation it gives N, I think I'd be doing the same thing. It's definitely important to have guidlines and enforce consequences and a lot of people touched on the fact that rules in other peoples homes might not be the same. I do think it's important that my kids can follow rules in our house as well as others. That being said, who wants to fill their days saying, "No... don't do that... stop.... no, no, no!" etc. As parents we can be pretty controlling sometimes b/c kids play differently than we would. We don't always see the world thru their eyes. It sounds like you are creating a fun, full experience for your boys everyday. And I'm sure you'll get that cooking thing under control. Man, I can hardly come up with one meal idea for me & DH.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/22/2007 01:45:00 PM  

  • Melissa, Yeah...I definitely like the slightly-later bedtime schedule so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn with them...I am so not a morning person. As long as it is fairly consistent, it's never been a problem for us, although I do feel some (unnecessary) guilt when I hear about families with really early bedtimes. Really, what does it matter...as long as the kid can comfortably adjust when preschool/kindergarten time comes around?

    Beth...ha! I'm hardly making gourmet meals for anyone. Regardless, it is a pain, and I should have never started it. And if DH has to go to work early (he works evenings), he usually is left on his own. I will be down to making 2 seperate meals very soon, I just haven't figured out who will have to sacrifice their meals, Asher or us.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/22/2007 02:21:00 PM  

  • Jen - I vote Asher. :) Baby T also has a late bedtime (9pm - 9:30) and gets up later in the morning. I am also not a morning person so I figure this works for now. The only thing I think about sometimes is if T went to bed earlier that would mean more ME time, or more me & DH time.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/22/2007 03:05:00 PM  

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