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Am I too strict?

(89 Posts)
violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 11:53:45

Hi everyone, just wanted some opinions....

I consider myself to be fairly strict in my parenting style. What I mean (roughly) is: I insist on manners, my dcs have a bedtime, I cook one meal for everyone with no alternatives and no dessert if they don't eat the meal, my dcs have to speak respectfully to people, be quiet in public when necessary, they have to listen to me and they are told off if they do something unacceptable etc etc. They also have to help in the house. I'm not saying they are always perfectly behaved, but I expect good behaviour.

However, we also have lots of fun, they get lots of praise, we have days when I don't mind what they eat and times when they can stay up late. I'm also not that bothered about noise in the house as long as it's happy noise, they can get dirty, have friends over mostly when they want and choose what they want to do within reason. I limit tv and computer time though.

My parenting instinct, for want of a better way to put it, is that I like kids and enjoy spending time with them and watching them develop, but I don't take any crap. Recently, however, I've been getting some comments from other mums that I'm "really strict". I'm honestly not looking so much for reassurance here as opinions on whether I am expecting too much and should back off a bit.

To give an example (for those that are still reading!): My 8 year old DS just got a go-kart for his birthday. All the kids in the street are understandably suddenly his best friend. He's been good about letting others have a turn, but then yesterday he came in with a bit of it broken off, saying one of the boys had kicked it really hard. He was so upset. Luckily it's still working, but still. I went out and asked what happened. The boys all said that a particular boy had kicked it. He had gone by that time. I asked DS if he had apologised, he said no. The boy's older brother was there and heard me saying (to nobody in particular) that it was such a shame and I was not happy that he had only had the go-kart for a week and already someone had done that. I left it there, but as I went inside I heard one boy saying "Why is your mum so angry?" Anyway it must have got back to the mum as she came up to me at school this morning and said she heard I was annoyed but these things happen with boys. I just said it was really a shame for DS and he was upset, then she started talking about something else so she obviously didn't think it was a big deal.

It's not just that incident but a few things like this plus comments from people are making me doubt my instinct!

Thanks for reading.

swash Wed 08-Jun-11 12:32:37

Impossible to judge online I think. I would tell a really good friend the above, and ask for feedback. I wouldn't worry about being a stricter mum, tbh - sounds fine.

I would worry about kids thing a bit - if you are speaking to nobody in particular then you are being a bit passive-aggressive. That boy was probably a bit confused - because, after all, the boy who did it wasn't there and the rest just wouldn't understand why you were having a go at them. It would have been better to tell the group they needed to treat the go-kart with respect or they wouldn't be allowed to share it.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 12:38:12

I was just kind of venting out loud, I was really annoyed but the boy wasn't there so I couldn't speak to him. I'm pretty sure they knew why I was angry, I think they were trying to act cool.

Honeydragon Wed 08-Jun-11 13:05:51

This is not about your parenting that's irrelevant. It's about hers. DS is that age, if I found out he had deliberately kicked another boys go kart he would be paying for it.... end of. And he knows that too.

If it's a case of boys will be boys the go kart would have been damaged through being a bit rexkless when on it. NOT kicking it.

Honeydragon Wed 08-Jun-11 13:06:14

reckless ...doh.

captainbarnacle Wed 08-Jun-11 13:10:53

"the mum as she came up to me at school this morning and said she heard I was annoyed but these things happen with boys."

hmm Maybe so, but these boys should apologise or make amends. It's not good enough to say these things happen! I would be mortified if one of my boys had broken someone else's new toy - certainly not telling the mum of the boy with the go Kart that 'these things happen'. Sheesh. I would be embarrassed and be doing everything I could to apologise.

I don't think you sound strict. Your description of your parenting sounds identical to me - and I know my dad thinks I'm a pushover!!

maxomummy Wed 08-Jun-11 13:15:45

Don't doubt your instincts, it sounds to me like you really want what's best for your kids and to teach them good values and manners - nothing wrong with that! there's a lot wrong with allowing your kids to break other kids toys without any come back though! The other mother should be making her kid apologise to yours and arrange to have your DS's toy repaired/replaced, not making excuses. I work in a prison with teenage boys and take it from me, it's the ones who have no boundaries who end up in here, sounds like you're doing great imo.

Eglu Wed 08-Jun-11 13:20:53

I think her parenting leaves a bit to be desired. I would be very annoyed that she didn't apologise at least. I would certainly offer to get it fixed if it was my child.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 13:25:30

Thank you! Good to know I am not way off in my judgment of myself. I didn't have any experience of kids before having my own, so I sometimes feel unsure about what's normal. I have found it hard to cope with the boisterous side of raising a son at times, and don't want to come down too hard on him for just being a boy, but it's true that kicking a new toy is more than just being a bit boisterous.

I feel I've left it too late to say anything to the other boy's mum now though.

Other mums have made a few comments too. One area is food/snacks. We hardly have junk in the house and sometimes kids complain if I put out crackers/cheese/fruit when they come over. I told the mum of my DD's friend that she didn't eat anything when she came over as she said she didn't like any of the foods I put out. The mum was surprised and said the girl would eat biscuits etc, but I had not given her any as I felt that 3 choices of food was enough. The mum said something like "wow, you are tough." I did wonder if I should have just chilled out and given her something else, but I wouldn't do that with my own dcs.

captainbarnacle Wed 08-Jun-11 13:31:48

My DS1 is only 4.5 but on the couple of playdates we've had here I've only served what he has for snacks (cheese etc) or tea. One little boy asked when I served fish and chips what the chips were! I told him they were chips (peeled and sliced potatoes cooked on a tray in the oven) and he insisted they weren't because he only eats curly fries. So he only ate the fish - I couldn't do him anything else! And I would expect/hope that other parents would do the same if my DS acted like that.

exoticfruits Wed 08-Jun-11 13:32:43

You sound fine. I wouldn't worry, some people are just too lax.
It saves a lot of bother to have a reputation! Someone started a thread because DCs were jumping on her furniture-it is much simpler to tell them straight that they can't in your house!
DCs are quite happy with 'firm but fair'.

BooyHoo Wed 08-Jun-11 13:36:48

no you dont sound strict at all. you sound spot on.

teh otehr mum should have apologised on her son's behalf and offered to replaced or fix teh damaged part. or she should ahve sent her son to apologise and offer to fix it if he could. i think maybe her lax attitude to teh damage he casued is maybe why he thought it was acceptable to acuse teh damge in the first place.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 13:38:57

I do think my dcs are happy! But they also say I'm strict sometimes. Well, that's my job.

I don't hesitate to tell kids to stop jumping on my furniture. I have also told kids to get out of my fridge. I guess I must have a lot of very laid back friends, but I couldn't live like that. My dcs are not passive little angels and I can imagine what they would be like without boundaries.

I do suspect I have a bit of a wicked witch reputation locally.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 13:41:39

Booyhoo that's kind of what I thought, but was a little scared to say on here! And with the food thing, I hope that by not letting them eat junk all the time, my dcs will eat whatever they are given at other people's houses, which I believe they do. However they also say things like "we had ice-cream at X's house - why do you never give us ice-cream?" (I do sometimes, but usually only for a treat if we go out.)

Abra1d Wed 08-Jun-11 13:42:46

It is so annoying when new presents are broken by children who are just too rough with other people's things. A few years ago my daughter's brand new Christmas present Dalek had its antenna snapped off by 2pm on Boxing Day by next door's boy sitting on it. Not the first time he's broken stuff, accidentally, but I did have to bite my lip and leave the room I was so angry.

BooyHoo Wed 08-Jun-11 13:44:01

i must be terribly mean then. i never buy ice cream. i just never think to put it on my list. my dcs get ice cream at my mum's house on sundays if tehy eat all tehir dinner and they never ask during teh week for any.

GooseyLoosey Wed 08-Jun-11 13:45:37

I too have been told that I am on the strict end of parenting. I would only cook 1 meal. The kids are allowed a list of 5 things each that they don't like and I won't cook - beyond that if I cook it, they eat it! I do allow biscuits and sweets especially if their friends are over - I want their friends to enjoy coming here and my kids to fit in their peer group, so I do bow to peer pressure.

If my child had broken someone else's toy, I would offer to pay for it without hesitation and ds or dd would then pay me back. They do not like their toys being broken and would understand that it is not OK to break someone else's.

It is good to be strict as long as you are prepared to step back sometimes and ask if your boundaries are the right ones and listen to your kids if they think you are doing the wrong things.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 13:51:35

Yes it was incredibly annoying as the go-kart cost 100 pounds - ds was looking forward to it for months. Fortunately it still works fine.

It's very difficult sometimes with the peer pressure thing as you don't want other people's houses to seem much more attractive but at the same time I'm not going to remove rules and feed them junk just to be popular.

exoticfruits Wed 08-Jun-11 13:55:32

It doesn't actually make any difference I found viola-DCs are very adaptable and easily deal with different rules in different places. Don't give in to peer pressure.

Octaviapink Wed 08-Jun-11 13:59:10

Junk-food parenting only makes you popular in the short term - then when they're overweight and can't cook in their 20s they'll blame you... Think long term!

Seriously though, your parenting style sounds fine to me (as it's the way I go myself!). Bear in mind that children and teenagers aren't just into "whatever they can get away with" - your house may become popular because the rules are fixed and children know they have to behave well. Believe it or not, children do like adults who can help them to be in control of themselves and conform to social norms!

Anecdotally, on the manners front, I was recently at lunch with an associate at a law firm (she must have been about 28). It became clear over lunch that she didn't really know how to use a knife and fork. It was embarrassing and horrible to watch, and I thought of the myriad opportunities her parents must have had to teach her and how they had failed her.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 13:59:18

True exoticfruits, although I remember ds' friend calling me "stupid" once when they were only about 4. I told him to apologise and never speak to me like that again. For a while after that he was really mean to ds, saying things like "your mum is horrible" and "your mum smells." Good grief!

exoticfruits Wed 08-Jun-11 14:00:12

My friend and I used to vie for 'wicked witch of the west' title-her house was always very popular too!

exoticfruits Wed 08-Jun-11 14:01:42

He probably found it worked at home viola-I expect his mother wanted to be best friends grin.

violaswamp Wed 08-Jun-11 14:05:03

Oooh yes I need a partner in crime!

BerylOfLaughs Wed 08-Jun-11 14:08:04

Sounds the same as me. I get told I'm strict sometimes, mainly by my mother, but I don't care. It's important to bring kids up with manners. I'd go out and tell the kid who broke the go-kart that he's not allowed near it unless he pays for the damage already done.
However, giving your kid an expensive toy which he will want to share with others is, unfortunately, a recipe for disaster.

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