August 13, 2008 at 11:12 pm (Attitude in Overdrive, Nate, Relationships, T-Bird)

Things between T-Bird and I are… not so good. I basically refused to respond to her e-mail, especially around the anniversary of the death of her daughter, 11 years ago. I called her yesterday to tell her I’d been thinking of her and Little T.

I guess that might have gone okay had she not taken her digs by saying, “Well, at least when my kids do something wrong, they get in trouble.”  This is her whole problem with me and Nate, that I don’t discipline him the way she wants or when she says so or for her reasons, not mine.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but when children are together and separated from the parents of said children, all children involved will point the finger at the other children when things go wrong.  So, I ask you, other parents, what is your first inclination?  A) Believe the other children B) Believe only yours or C) Try to determine what actually happened?

Also, parents, when involved with children of different age groups it is common sense not to allow older children to pick on or hurt younger children. However, if the younger children, say in the 3-6 age group jump on the older children 9-12 years of age and hurt them, would you expect your child to A) come and tell an adult B) Take it because they’re older or C) Retaliate. Now, lets forget what we would all like to happen and tell me in your experience what actually does happen.

Then, parents, I want you to tell me what its like when other people tell you how to raise your children. I want you to tell me what its like when they make negative comments about your parenting style or your parenting skills. Then I want you to tell me what it feels like when they tell you how horrible your child is and how they would raise him/her differently because they don’t agree with your parenting style and they obviously could do so much better. And, I want this to all happen after they spend a grand total of 3 hours a month with your child, if that.

My son’s triumphs and not so glowing moments have been chronicled here. He’s not an easy child, he’s a very complex child, with multiple facets. How and when I decide to discipline him is my business.  Only in extreme cases does he respond to a good old-fashioned spanking. He’s gotten plenty and I figure he’ll have a few more and I’ve popped him in the mouth a few times for sassin’ me.

However, as he grows older, I find it more important to actually take a moment of my life, restrain the fact that I want to throttle the life out of him, and actually make him think about what he’s done, the consequences, and the feelings of those around him. I don’t even tell him what I expect out of him anymore, I just say, “You know what I expect from you.”  When we went to walk/train my friend’s dogs (a ginormous Newfoundland among them), I told Nate, “I expect you to act like a little gentleman.” He asked for clarification, which I gave. He didn’t disappoint me.

When the moment calls for it, I jerk a knot in his ass. He is left with NO, and I mean NO questions as to what he’s in trouble for and why immediate action was taken.

I assure you also, he will push your buttons. He is the kind of kid that will see just how far he can push you but he also has a great respect for anyone who stands up to him. I know this to be true because he came up against Cybele, and I know Cybele had to let him know who was boss and she wasn’t going to be pushed around. He adores her and he adores her because she put her foot down in a calm, rational manner (although I figure she wanted to kill him in the morning *inside joke, folks, no need to call Social Services*) without yelling at him, shaking her finger in his face, calling him names, or spanking him.

Perhaps you don’t agree with the fact that I give Nate a perameter in which to operate in. Every year that perameter gets a little bigger, not because he gets taller or older, but because he matures. Perhaps you don’t agree that I chose to guide rather than control. I’m sure we would all prefer that our children not make mistakes, but I assure you, without mistakes, and consequences, they won’t learn a damn thing. Perhaps my consequences aren’t the same consequences that you would have. That’s your business.

I like to recognize that children learn by playing with other children. That means the high-five after a great shot or it means they may bicker or get pissed off at each other, but there are important social clues involved in that process. I don’t believe it should progress to physical confrontation, but I’m willing to let things progress so that they learn to work things out without adult intervention. I have bitten my tongue a number of times to keep from refereeing and allowing that social process to work itself out. I think it has done Nate a world of good to learn from those interactions because it came from his peers, not his mother.

Jeff and T-Bird are the exact same kind of parent in that aspect.  Control, control, control.  A child will never learn to think for themselves if you continually think for them.

Let’s get to my last pet peeve… Nate’s hobbies. Nate likes to read Harry Potter and he devoured “Bridge Over Terabithia” while we were in AZ and he likes for me to read to him as well. He likes to paint and draw, he plays the clarinet (and would play a psaltery if I could ever afford one), singing, and playing Rock Band drums. During the summer he’s a total water dog and although he has stage fright, which cut short his modeling career, he has expressed interest in the theater, He likes to fish at my parents farm and go out with my dad on the four-wheeler, hike with Mom in the Grand Canyon, and basically any puzzle intriques him. He loves our cats and plays with them and he likes to watch TV, but that comes and goes. He collects Pokemon cards and Bakugan figures and he and his friend Cameron play games that I don’t understand with them.

But, Nate’s greatest passion is video games. He loves video games, whether its Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, Pokemon, Rock Band, or Guitar Hero, NATE LOVES VIDEO GAMES. He got a PSP for his birthday and Lego Indiana Jones to go with it. He was thrilled this evening to reach 4,000,000,000, yes, four billion, in fake money. That’s as high as the game will go and he beat it. He’s rather disappointed that his PS2 has hit the skids because he loves playing the Rock Band drum kit and singing the songs, alone or with a group, he’s all about it.

He goes through cycles. Sometimes he’ll watch TV, like Total Drama Island on Cartoon Network and he’ll go for a week or so and not even play a video game. Then he’s all about it again. Think what you like about video games but for hand-eye coordination (I can’t even begin to play the drums or guitar on Rock Band) and to increase his attention to detail, I couldn’t ask for anything better.

He doesn’t play violent video games. You won’t find Grand Theft Auto in this house although he’s lobbied for it. He’s totally psyched to have used his allowance money to put the upcoming Lego Batman on hold at the mall. He’s learned how to buy-sell-trade old games for new games and as you can tell from his pictures, he’s neither obese nor pasty white.

I hope your children have hobbies that they enjoy as much as Nate does his. I may not agree with your child’s hobbies, but they’re not my kids. I can’t stand wrestling, boxing, or ultimate fighting, have no love for it, no more so than I have for Grand Theft Auto, but if your kids are into it and that’s okay with you, that’s okay with me. I don’t feel as though I have a right to tell you what your kids should like or be involved in. Good for you and for your kids if they play four sports a year, my kids likes swimming, video games, and music.  Maybe you’ve got an Andre the Giant or LeBron James, maybe I’ve got a Michael Phelps or a Bill Gates.

I don’t think that Nate’s interests make him more special or less special than any other child. I don’t think it makes me a bad parent to allow my son to come in, climb up on the side of my chair, and say, “Wow, Momma, check this out, I got FOUR BILLION on my game! FOUR BILLION MOM!”  At least he knows what a BILLION looks like! The Lego games have definitely reinforced his ability to accurately read numbers.

So, all in all, raise your children the way you see fit. After all, you know them best. I’ll do the same with mine.


  1. Tina said,

    Aren’t you glad I bought the Rock Band instead of Resident Evil or Grand Theft Auto? 😉

  2. kenju said,

    AMEN! I hated it when anyone else told me how to raise my children (especially my mom or mother-in-law) and I don’t do it to others now. If they ask my advice I give it – but if not – I shut my mouth.

    I might see you this weekend.

  3. Inanna said,

    Dude, you have enough respect and sense to ask before bringing something like that into my house!

  4. Doug Smith said,

    I raised two daughters whose mom wasn’t around much. I was also raised by a father who loved me and whipped me. He was an old school country boy, and did his best. I loved and respected him more than words can say. But that’s now and when I was getting the belt, there wasn’t much warm and fuzzy floating around.

    Now, I didn’t whip my girls like that. After all, my daddy whipped me alot, and I think it just made me meaner. Bottom line, I did my best. I didn’t have a handbook. Their not the greatest young ladies in the world, but not the worst by far. I would also gladly lay my life down for them. I’m so blessed to have my girls.

    I don’t doubt in the least your an awesome mother. Yeah…. who knows when it comes to raising up kids… It’s tough as hell, and the greatest reward. Kind of like love, you’ll never know what it’s like to hurt like hell, if you don’t let yourself love like heaven. Life is really hard, but I’m glad to be here today.

  5. Lisa said,

    I hear you. There’s not much more aggravating than when someone else tries to tell you how to raise your kid. Nate sounds a lot like J. He’s also big into video games, and taking that away gets his attention way faster than a spanking ever would (spankings are only helpful when he’s so wound up that he just can’t stop the emotional response and the “no no no no no” pattern that he falls into sometimes). Yet my father persists in telling me that the boy just needs a spanking, that that would do him a world of good. (For what it’s worth, I got exactly one spanking as a child, and that came from my mother, so I find it funny that my dad encourages spanking as the be-all and end-all when he never raised a hand to me!) You find the currency that works for your child, and you do what works for you as a family. Me, I’m much more of the “guide and instruct” school of thought, because the day will come when I won’t be there to tell J what to do, and I’m trying now to lay the foundation for J to think and reason and make good choices on his own rather than doing the right thing because he’s scared of me – much like you’re doing with Nate.

    Good on you, sticking to what you believe in, and I’m sorry you and T-Bird had a falling out over something that’s no one’s business but yours.

  6. old horsetail snake said,

    You’re right on there, Punkin’. Nate is going to be a jewel — maybe already is.

  7. cybele said,

    You didn’t include D) Tell the kids to find something interesting to fight about, because I as a parent find this altercation boring.

    Nate was great after he realized that I was serious about “my house, my rules” and “your mother will like me better if I let you live.”

    Give him a kiss from me. And take one from him, for yourself.

  8. Tina said,

    I am just kidding, man. 🙂 I would NEVER let any kids that I know play those violent games. Those games are for me! 😉 If I had kids I wouldn’t even have those type of games in the house at all.

  9. Riley Romeo said,

    It was really good to see you today (Fri.). I’m glad that you are doing well.

  10. subeeds said,

    One night before my son left home, he paid me what I considered to be a high compliment. He told me “I could make video game controllers disappear faster and hide them better than any of his friends moms”. That was what worked with him 90% of the time.The other 10% of the time was winging it under whatever circumstances happened to be at the time.

    He has grown up to be a young man that I am proud of. He has a kind heart, loves to read, loves to play video games and is finally realizing that life as a grown-up isn’t all the fun that he imagined it would be.

    I like the guidance way of raising kids, but at the same time, sometimes you do need to “jerk a knot in their ass”. It’s just the way it is.

    I have met parents that I would dearly love to tell how to raise their kid, but bit my tongue because it wasn’t my business. Those are kids that I tried to avoid being around.

    Nanner, it seems to me that you are doing a good job with Nate. Keep up the good work and one day, he will hand you a great compliment out of the blue like my son did.

  11. Aimee said,

    Guidance instead of control.

    Hmph. Sounds mighty close to actually offering your child a voice or on opinion or (gasp!) even respect. That’s practically UNHEARD of!

    (I agree with you 100%–and I get approximately the same amount of shit for it. But in the end, our kids will be happier and well-adjusted.)

  12. Vince said,

    In general, I agree with your method of parenting. Certainly, if my kids get into some sort of argument or trouble with another group of kids, knowing them the way I do, I take NOTHING at face value and try to find out what’s really going on. Cause kids will lie (or bend/omit the truth) to get out of trouble. Cause they’re kids.

    I use a mixture of guidance and control with my kids. Some things, there’s no discussion and I go into command mode. Doing chores and contributing to keeping the house running is not an option. Work before play is not an option. However, like you, I let my boys choose their hobbies. Both are into music. They picked their insturments with ZERO input from me. Totally their choice. Which is why they love them so. Choice of toys they want to play with? Also their’s with a few limits.

    We limit tech time (computer/video games) and TV because if we let them, they’d sit in front of the TV all day. We want the boys to be active. However, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with playing video games as long as it’s not an obsession.

    As far as reading goes, I’d have no problem with the boys spending all their spare time reading. It’s good for the mind and imagination. I spent MANY hours reading at their age (still love it when I have time). More kids should spend hours reading.

    Lastly, like you, I don’t let anyone tell me how to raise my kids, not friends and not family. I may disagree with how other’s raise their children, but I mind my own business. YOU know your kid and you’re the best one to determine how he should be raised. From what I’ve seen, you’re doing a great job. He’s 12 (right?). At that age, they can make you go “Aw”, or they can make you want to kill them. This I know from experience. The proof will be when Nate becomes an adult, he’s going to be a man you can be proud of.

  13. brightonandbear said,

    Your child, your choices, your method of discipline. Nuff said.

  14. lucidkim said,

    I fight this battle a lot with my family – but not overtly. Mostly just snide comments they make and then act like they were “just kidding” about my parenting style. It used to bother me now I feel like if they think my parenting sucks, I must be doing it right.

    I grew up with total control from my parents – they decided everything and I obeyed because that’s what I had to do. Everything was structured and orderly and disciplined. I hated it. My parenting is often simply the antithesis of that upbringing – much to the extreme annoyance and frustration of not only my mother, but my sisters (who I would think would totally understand…but whatever).

    Like you, I think staying back and letting kids work things out when they are arguing is a good idea (within reason). I like to see how they compromise on their own and work things out without being told how it has to happen.

    When I was thinking about the situation you described – with a younger child hurting the older ones and how the older ones react…a lot of times it comes down to the state of the kids at that moment. When my girls are rested and fed they are more inclined to either simply take it because the kids are younger or ask an adult to intervene. On the other hand, if they are overly tired or hungry (or overly stimulated…you get the idea), they might instead retaliate. Like you telling Nate you expected him to act like a little gentleman – with my girls I have to have a specific talk with them telling them what I expect of them when we are with others…otherwise they may simply react instead of thinking about it first.

    My girls (six and eight) are strong-willed and opinionated and smart. I like that when they feel they are wrong, they stick to their guns. We have rules and their limits and it isn’t like there is no structure – it is just looser than what I grew up with. I would have been slapped across the face if I disagreed with my mom (and was a time or two). I let my girls disagree and tell me why, but I’m still the one in charge and they know that.

    When people give me ‘helpful’ pointers on things I should do with the girls (“you have to make them eat foods they don’t like or they’ll never know if they like it or not” is a favorite) I nod and smile and say “ok” and let it go. I don’t usually defend my choices. People have their own ideas and I’m not trying to convince the world my method is right, I just know what I want to do and be as a parent and what battles are important and which ones aren’t (for me).

    I know you’re doing a great job with Nate – and it’s obvious with the stories you tell about him here and the things he loves to do how smart he is and how much of a little gentleman he is becoming.


  15. bakugan said,

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