Priorities in Parenting: Biggies and Smallies

For my parenting journey, there are what I call the “biggies” and the “smallies”.  Biggies are nonnegotiables. Smallies are things I need to get over, let go of, or just not worry about.

Smallies:

  • Wearing what they want. One of the things I loved about growing up was picking my own outfits. It gives kids the ability to express themselves, be creative, and take ownership of a part of their world.  Why do we fight our kids on what they are wearing? Who cares if they wear pajamas all day? Yes there are times, say picture day for example, that appropriate clothes should be worn. But if you are just going to the store or hanging out at home, what difference does it make? It doesn’t reflect on you as the parent if they don’t match or look “perfect”.
  • The way they “help”. How else will a 4-year-old learn to do the dishes (or anything else for that matter) if we don’t give them the opportunity to spill some suds on the floor? Nobody does anything perfectly the first time. Why would we think our kids can? And just because they do something differently than the way I would do it, does that make it wrong? No, of course not.

Biggies:

  • Piercings/Tattoos. When they are adults – all bets are off. But until then, my kids can express themselves in all manner of non-permanant ways: Mohawks, long hair, baggy jeans, crazy clothes, ripped knees, combat boots, or whatever else may be in style by the time they are teens.
  • Media. I may regret putting this in writing, but as of right now, I see no reason that a grade schooler or pre-teen needs a cell phone, a Facebook account or a TV in their room. Perhaps I’m a bit prudish in this regard, but I feel like if we spend all their early years pushing them away, it will make it harder to reconnect with them when we will desperately need open lines of communication. And as for social media such as Facebook, shouldn’t the home be a place of refuge? It seems like Facebook could potentially be bringing all the bullying and “mean kids” crap into the house. Who needs that?! Being a kid is hard enough.

Perhaps I will change my mind as the kids get older. The biggies and smallies may change. Time will tell. Ultimately I’m finding that the less energy spent on the smallies saves energy for the biggies, for the stuff that really matters.

(And really, if I could get away with it, wouldn’t I love to be in pajamas all day long!?)

What are your biggies and smallies?

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