One of the biggest difficulties that comes with parenthood is the fact that now we are the ones in charge. And unlike the many fantasies I had as a kid, that usually does not mean that we get to eat nothing but candy all day, and go to sleep whenever we want. For the most part being a parent means we are the ones who have to make, and enforce, the rules.
Now, to be sure, rules are great. They are what keep our homes and our lives running fairly smoothly. As adults we can all appreciate the need for rules, and the order they bring into the chaos of raising kids. Our rules are important, and there is no denying that, but sometimes our human nature demands that we break the rules, and that is okay too. As a matter of fact, I think it is important that we break the rules from time to time. Both for our own sanity, and as an example to our kids.
But what kind of example are we setting for our kids if we can just completely disregard our own rules every once in a while? In my opinion, we are giving them a very good example. Rules can take on a life of their own, and the reasons behind them can be lost. Showing our kids that living life, and sharing experiences are more important than what rules we have made up is something I think every kid can benefit from.
A good example of what I’m talking about would be a rule like, “lights out at 9”. Now, the rule is there for a good reason. It gives our kids a consistent bedtime, it gives parents some much needed adult time, and it provides structure to schedules when travelling. However, a rule like this one is also one that could, and should, be flouted on rare occasions.
I don’t mean we should only break the rules if our kids are sick, or having an especially hard time. The rules should occasionally be broken just for the thrill of it. Watch your kids eyes when you toss caution to the wind on one of your more harmless rules, and you’ll see their entire perception of you shift from authority figure, to super hero.
Not all rules were made to be broken (Don’t suddenly have a safety-belt free day or anything), but some can be broken without danger on rare occasions. I think you’ll find that it isn’t only your kids who find it thrilling either. Every time I allow myself to toss out a rule for a special occasion, I feel my own inner child dance with glee, and it makes all the times when I enforced the rules seem just a little less compulsory.