Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our First Clash of Parenting Styles

There are many times over the course of your parenting journey that you and your significant other will butt heads on how to handle a situation.

Yes, it even happens to those of us who have written books on the subject of parenting. I'm definitely in the midst of one of those mix-baking-soda-and-vinegar parenting experiments I talk about in my book.

My kids have become spoiled- not super-spoiled, but we're at the taking-things-for-granted stage of being pre-teens. My daughter has her phone, which she is always on, and The Ginger recently acquired Hubby's old phone, which he uses to play games on while connected to our wifi. Because my kids are constantly distracted by their electronic devices, it's a daily struggle in my house to get them to do their chores. Forget about asking them to do something outside their normal realm, too; any request is immediately met with grumbles, excuses and the beginnings of backtalk (which get shut down really quickly).
Pic Courtesy

And yet, my kids think they are entitled to their phones/electronic devices because they are theirs.

We have taken away the devices before, and of course behavior improves. Then, as soon as they get those shiny little boxes back into their hands, they are right back to being lazy, griping trolls.

I'm at my wit's end. I'm ready to banish all electronics during the evening, yes, even for Hubby and I. My philosophy is to lead by example. If I'm reading a book instead of playing on my phone, my kids will read a book instead of play on their phones. If my phone is on the kitchen island for the night, and texts and emails can wait until I go to bed, then everyone's phones can be on the kitchen island, and texts and emails can wait until bedtime.

This is where Hubby and I are seriously butting heads.

He's a do as I say, not as I do type of person. He feels that because he's the parent, he can play on his phone all night, stay glued to the computer while watching TV at the same time, but he can tell the kids not to do the same. Why? Because he's the adult and they are the children.

This makes me want to scratch my nails down my face. One of my biggest parenting pet peeves is Do As I Say, Not as I Do parents, and I'm married to one.

And for the record, I didn't know I was married to one until our kids became of the age where lead by example started to affect things we find enjoyable, like playing on our phones.

When I first suggested that we all practiced self-control when it came to our phones and electronic devices in
the evenings, Hubby's reaction was immediate opposition. Why should he be punished because the kids were spoiled? Why should he not be allowed some relaxation time, doing something he enjoys, after a hard day's work, just because the kids couldn't strike a balance between work and play?

Then he pointed the finger at me by saying that I'm just as guilty of playing on my phone in the evenings as he is. He said I wouldn't be able to give it up, either.

Au contraire, mon cheri. Yes, my phone goes off a lot in the evenings; I run a business and a blog. But I am so ready to pull my hair out over this scenario that I have realized that there isn't anything that can't wait when it comes to emails or my websites. If a custom order request comes in, and the person can't wait 2 hours for my reply, then maybe I wasn't the right person to make their item. If a website wants to do an interview with me on such-and-such topic, and don't understand that I'm a mom blogger (key word being mom) with mom responsibilities, then maybe they didn't really want my opinion on the subject.

So yes, I'm ready to put my phone on the kitchen island and call it an evening each night. But not Hubby. And I find it really difficult to make my kids do it while not practicing the same healthy habit.

And yes, I understand I am the parent and they are the child, and you should know by now (if you are a regular here to Inklings) that my kids do not rule anything in this house. But we've tried taking away their phones while continuing to play on ours. It hasn't worked. So, now I feel something more is needed, and I feel that step is to lead by example.
Pic Courtesy

We live in such a technology-driven society nowadays, that I told my best friend I was ready for a "Revolution"-style global power grid failure, I'm so done with this shit. No electricity, no internet, no phones. She said I'd go crazy. I'm inclined to agree with her at first, but I think I'd adjust. Cold baths would suck, that's for sure. And waiting for my coffee to heat up over a fire would be torture, but at least my family would have to pull together in order to just get through daily life.

Unfortunately, this is one of those posts where I don't have a conclusion. I don't have a this-is-what-we-tried-and-it-worked-so-here-it-is post today. I have an any-suggestions-or-stories-of-how-you-dealt-with-this-are-greatly-appreciated post today. So please, comment below.

In the meantime, I'm going to try and find some compromise between Hubby's do as I say, not as I do parenting and my lead by example parenting. Maybe no phone/electronic devices for a certain time frame at night? Maybe limited phone time to answer important things, but not to just simply play on the phones?

Or, maybe I need to catch up on "Revolution" to see how this global power grid failure thing goes down.

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  1. Here at the Dahl house, we have similar struggles. I'm more lead by example (not always, but most of the time) and hubs is very do as I say just because I say so.

    Electronics are a sticky issue here and I'm always searching for a better solution. What I've had some success with is making the house an electronics free zone after school. We come in after I pick up the kids at the bus stop, we do homework, they do any chores that haven't been done. By that time it's usually time to start dinner and we have a strict no phones policy for dinner time. After dinner, IF all homework and chores are done, they can have their electronics until bedtime. The electronics (during the week) do not go into the bedrooms so they can't stay up late playing with them. It's worked for the last couple months, but things are always evolving.

    The kids will be much easier to deal with than the husband. Unfortunately. Good luck!

    1. Thanks, girlie! I like this idea. I think this is what we'll try when the kids get off of Rodeo Break this week... yes, I said Rodeo Break. No school. Good grief, lol.

  2. Same deal over here. Of course, The Man is always pointing a finger at me, telling me to get off the tablet (where I'm reading) and watch whatever stupid man-film full of guns and explosions the four of them have chosen for the evening. But as soon as something remotely cartoonish or family-oriented comes on, he's on his phone on the couch or worse, out on the patio chain-smoking and surfing the net on his phone.

    My boys don't have their "own" devices yet, but they do play the KindleFire, and my old phone. I have a "no toys or electronics at the table" rule, and that seems to work alright. Though I wish I could lower a shade or something between the dining room and TV!

    1. OMG, same here! If it's a movie Hubby picks out, and I grab my phone, he practically tackles me to get it out of my hands, but if it's something he doesn't particularly care for, he gets right on his phone to play games. Annoying!! Good to know we aren't the only house like that, lol. ;)

  3. Okay, I'm an amateur because my oldest is only seven, but he DOES have an android tablet that he LOVES. But he's not allowed to have it until A) all his chores are done and B) his homework is done. If he has had any major discipline issues that day he knows better than to even ask for the tablet. Also, if he cops an attitude when I tell
    him to get off of it, he can forget about it for the next day or two.

    AND... although I do believe in leading by example, I ALSO think that your husband, to some degree, has a point. They ARE kids and as such, shouldn't necessarily have the same set of rules as the adults do. I tell my children that I limit their electronic time because their brains are still developing, and it's been proven that it's not good for them to sit around all day zoned out on a phone. Kind of like bedtime. They go to bed earlier than we do, because they're kids and they need more sleep than we do.

    Around here, we have what we call "family time" - that's dinner time and the kids' bed time, during which no one is on their phone or any electronic device. The TV is not turned on at all until the kids are in bed. Maybe your husband would agree to something like that? (He does kinda sound like an addict - phone, computer, TV... LOL) ;)

    Be sure to post again, because I'll be very curious to see how this plays out! =)

    1. I'm going to have to start something, lol. When we do have Family Game Night or Family Movie Night, phones are out of the picture. It's the nights when we're doing nothing, but spending time together that get me. Thanks for the help! ;)

  4. Coming from a former kid, I feel like parents should lead by example to an extent. The parents are not at the same stage as their kids. Kids don't own businesses or manage relationships the way adults have to. Kids are mostly playing games especially at their age. I think that they need to learn the difference between work, play, and family and how to separate the three. However, when someone does call you for work, decide weather it is something important enough to answer. For instance, if a customer calls you during those two hours, it can probably wait, as can an interview, but if someone calls you saying that your account was hacked it is important to respond as soon as possible. There is no cut and dry way to keep off the phones because they are unpredictable just like life. Someone could need you at anytime whether it is work or your family. I feel like that is a good lesson to teach your kids. (as well as your husband ;) plus you don't want them to not answer your calls and say that they were spending quality time with their friends and didn't have their phone on them. I pulled that one a lot of times.

    1. I'm getting pretty good at not immediately jumping to look at my phone when it goes off, and when I do finally see what it is, I put it back down if it doesn't need to be dealt with right then. It's definitely a learning process, lol. Thanks for your comment!! ;)