Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Rules, Rules and More Rules

"Why, Mom?"

"Because."

"Why?"

"Those are the rules."

If your house is anything like mine, that conversation has played out about a million times in different ways. Okay, okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, and it's only a few hundred thousand.

Time and again, we teach our children to conform. Behave by the rules. Dress by the rules. Play by the rules. Yet our children have minds and ideas all their own. And sometimes -- when you look closely enough -- those rules really don't make any sense.

Reader Liz D. raised this issue in a conversation last week: "Can we talk about ... the contradictory values we teach kids about being unique versus don't be different, too?" she wrote.

Such contradictions are everywhere. For instance, the middle schooler who was suspended from school for dying her hair pink. The girl, Amelia Robbins, "finds the color pink is the cancer color." Amelia's father died of cancer when she was 6, the girl told KY3 TV in Missouri.

Then there's 14-year-old Kacy Stuart, a kicker for the New Creation Center football team nicknamed the Crusaders in Georgia. Kacy practiced with the team for two months before the executive board chairman of the football league decided that she couldn't play with the team because she's a girl, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And in Australia, 10-year-old Cali Buschgens went afoul of the rules on her playground last month -- by doing a cartwheel. Her school had banned all forms of gymnastics because the sport poses a danger to kids.

In all three cases, the children -- and their families -- are fighting against the rules and for what they believe to be right.

When do you tell your kids to follow the rules because that's how it is or when to stand up for themselves and against rules that simply don't make sense?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  September 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Behavior , Newsmakers
Previous: He Said, She Said: Two Takes on Palin | Next: TV, the French and Common Sense

Comments


"Reader Liz D. raised this issue in a conversation last week: "Can we talk about ... the contradictory values we teach kids about being unique versus don't be different, too?" she wrote"

Does Liz D. have any kids? There are tons of contradictory values/competing interests in the world.

Posted by: You kids keep off of my lawn! | September 4, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

"If your house is anything like mine, that conversation has played out about a million times in different ways. Okay, okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, and it's only a few hundred thousand"

Noo, it's not like that in my house. It's called strong leadership - try it sometime.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Now playing on the WaPo's Checkup:

Do C-Sections Make Moms Less Sensitive?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup/?hpid=news-col-blog-viewall

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I play the "It's the rules" card when safety is an issue. For example I make my girls wear their bike helmets 'even in our driveway' so they don't hurt themselves when they fall. I refuse to let them climb or run up the slide at our house or at the playground because they might fall off or get hit by someone coming down. I will bring them over to the sign at the playground and point to where the rule is listed. At our backyard pool, I won't allow running and my daugthers must wear their life vests if I am not in the pool with them. Those are my rules and they are all about safety. The girls must hold my hands when crossing the street, in a parking lot etc. because it's MY rule! Again, it's about safety.

As the girls get older I am sure we will come across many more rules, some of which are 'unfair' and might seem silly. I will probably encourage them to follow the rule, but perhaps we'll talk about trying to get the rule changed instead of just going against it and getting in trouble (suspension, kicked out of somewhere. . .)

Posted by: LBH219 | September 4, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Noo, it's not like that in my house. It's called strong leadership - try it sometime.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:08 AM

Then I guess your kids are robots. I have never met one kid who does not say why at some point when you ask/tell them not to do something. As human beings it is inherent in us to question things, that is how we learn. Strong leadership does not mean never being questioned.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 4, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Eh, since you're such an incredible parent, why don't you lead this discussion.

Posted by: WhatTheFlock | September 4, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Strong leadership does not mean never being questioned.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 4, 2008 8:51 AM

Look up the definiton of leadership. Srtong leadership is not constantly challenged.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I think it's a lifelong process and how a person decides to deal with rules has a lot to do with personality and circumstance, rather than just a parenting call or technique.

For me I think it's important for kids to learn over time how to evaluate rules, risk, rewards and consequences.

I see my role as a parent as:
a) expressing the rules and reasons for them
b) modelling my own response - for example, I never, ever drive if I've had even half a glass of wine; I pay my taxes; I don't run stop signs; I wear a helmet on my bike, etc.
c) enforcing the bottom-line safety rules while my child is too young to get it, and that includes health rules like brushing teeth
d) appreciating my child's efforts to learn and follow rules and etiquette and all that

We try to keep the just-because rules to a minimum at our house - do I care if my son wears a clean t-shirt to bed rather than a pyjama top?

No, so no rule about that. But he does have to wear a helmet on his trike.

When it comes to societal rules where the consequence is not life-threatening or overwhelmingly bad, I think I would back my child in breaking a rule provided that the child understood that there would be consequences. (For example, being suspended is a consequence of breaking a school dress code.)

I think this is the most important element: is breaking the rule THAT important. If it is, then okay. I think a lot of people forget that in movements like the civil rights movement, that was a critical element - people felt that strongly that they were willing to go to jail.

If I believed a rule was unfair, I would challenge it appropriately (or support my child in doing so) and accept the results of the challenge. I think that's good modelling too.

Posted by: Shandra | September 4, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Strong leadership is not constantly challenged.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I try to teach my kids the way I was taught. Most rules exist for a good reason, and I'll explain to them what the reason is. And with regard to breaking the rules, well, "don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

On the other hand, sometimes rules are stupid or wrong, and if you believe strongly enough that a rule needs to be broken, go ahead and do it as long as you're willing to take the possible consequences.

My father pulled us out of school to attend his court martial for insubordination. He disobeyed an order he believed to be unlawful, and he was willing to take the consequences. He felt it was important to take that stand and wanted us to understand. He was acquitted at the court martial, but made sure we knew what COULD have happened and how it would have impacted us.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 4, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:59 AM Look up the definiton of leadership. Srtong leadership is not constantly challenged."

Well, I looked up the definition and didn't see "constantly challenged" mentioned. But let's pretend that is the case. A question isn't a challenge to a truly strong leader. If the goals of the leader are so vague that questions arise, that is the fault of the leader. Not the followers.

Posted by: David | September 4, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Eh, since you're such an incredible parent, why don't you lead this discussion.

Posted by: WhatTheFlock | September 4, 2008 8:55 AM

'Cause Stacey gets the pay for the blog.

I won't pimp out my kids by providing details for WaPo consumption. Yuck.

Parenting, leading, and managing have a lot of skills in common. Immaturity is not one of them.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I try to teach my kids the way I was taught. Most rules exist for a good reason, and I'll explain to them what the reason is. And with regard to breaking the rules, well, "don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

On the other hand, sometimes rules are stupid or wrong, and if you believe strongly enough that a rule needs to be broken, go ahead and do it as long as you're willing to take the possible consequences.

My father pulled us out of school to attend his court martial for insubordination. He disobeyed an order he believed to be unlawful, and he was willing to take the consequences. He felt it was important to take that stand and wanted us to understand. He was acquitted at the court martial, but made sure we knew what COULD have happened and how it would have impacted us.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 4, 2008 9:10 AM

wow, you're an EXCEPTIONAL parent, AB. we all wish we could be just like you. the qualities you exhibit are incredible.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I am the father of Deirdre Faegre, the American student suspended in 2004 for cartwheels and referenced in this latest episode of outrageous usurpation [Townsville Bulletin] of life, liberty and happiness in Queensland, Australia.

Former West Covina San Jose Edison Academy student and now resident of Lake Tahoe, Deirdre Faegre, who was suspended for performing cartwheels and handstands in November, 2004 for disobeying school administration officials, has expressed support for 10 year-old Australian student, Cali Buschgens who has been told not to do gymnastics on school playgrounds.

Take off the gloves Ms Buschgens, and let the education elite know that you are in control of your children--not faceless authoritarians determined to deny children their rite of passage. Stand up to them and let me know if I can help...

Leland Thomas Faegre
http://www.ontopofacloud.com/deirdre.htm

Posted by: Leland Thomas Faegre | September 4, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

When an answer is given to a child or a rule is expressed and the question WHY? is the response you have your own answer to the situation.
The child simply does not have the necessary experience to evaluate the situation and asks why.
The child in the story equating PINK to cancer is copping out.
She already knows that PINK HAIR is not allowed but is using a situation to get around the rule.
That's what kids do when they test boundaries.
Put on a pink scarf, a pink hair clip or dye your shoes pink or maybe just get a case of pink eye..

Posted by: GreGG | September 4, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

wow, you're an EXCEPTIONAL parent, AB. we all wish we could be just like you. the qualities you exhibit are incredible.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 9:25 AM

Carm down. AB is just getting started....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Liz D good subject. I think it is difficult because we do teach our children to be true to themselves but there are certainly times that in order to be a part of society, we need to follow rules that you don't agree with for the common good. For example, my son is always hot, it is a struggle to get him to wear what I think is an appropriate coat in the winter, so I have given up. I figure, when he is cold he will come in and he needs to learn to listen to his body. To his credit, he's always been right and comfortable, however there is a rule at his school that when it is below 50 all the kids must wear their coats. I asked the teacher about it and she said it was a rule generally made to preserve order and make sure the younger children didn't get too cold. So, I send my son with the thinnest possible jacket to wear and a short sleeved shirt. I recognize that not all moms subscribe to my theory, I recognize that the teachers can't be arguning with the kids about who will wear a coat or not so we just follow the rule, because you can't fight every battle and it makes the recess experience better for everyone. That said, I once punched a boy in middle school for pulling down my sweat pants and got in-school suspension. My dad talked with the principal, understood that we can't have kids hitting each other, but didn't punish me at home and told me that if the boy every did that again, I should punch him again. So, unless it is a really egregious violation of a moral or important social issue, I don't see the sense in fighting everything. You can't change everything to how you want it and you will likely make yourself crazy in the process. Thanks again for raising the issue Liz, I'm interested to hear all the thoughtful responses - trolls, not so much.

Posted by: Moxiemom | September 4, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Put on a pink scarf, a pink hair clip or dye your shoes pink or maybe just get a case of pink eye..

Posted by: GreGG | September 4, 2008 9:31 AM

LOL! My kid came home with a pink mohawk! I didn't wear a bra for a couple of years in high school.

Posted by: Memories | September 4, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I would like to hear what Donna and Cecilia have to say about this topic. I respect their views on parenting, and seem to have similar ideals and values, as we are suburban, upper-middle class parents.

Posted by: Nancy | September 4, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks again for raising the issue Liz, I'm interested to hear all the thoughtful responses - trolls, not so much.

Posted by: Moxiemom | September 4, 2008 9:47 AM

What else do you have to do 'till your kids get out of child care...oops...school?

Posted by: Where's the moxie? | September 4, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Such contradictions are everywhere. For instance, the middle schooler who was suspended from school for dying her hair pink. The girl, Amelia Robbins, "finds the color pink is the cancer color." Amelia's father died of cancer when she was 6, the girl told KY3 TV in Missouri.


Tough, you don't get to bring every cause into school, just as you don't into work. That is why kids are bewildered when they grow up. I wore pink hair to school, why not at work? why won't anyone hire me etc.

Posted by: nope | September 4, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Nancy,

Donna and Cecilia are just like the Energizer Bunny, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Works of fiction, you know, just like you!

(and quite insipid fiction at that!)

Posted by: Uh, give it up Nancy! | September 4, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I would like to hear what Donna and Cecilia have to say about this topic. I respect their views on parenting, and seem to have similar ideals and values, as we are suburban, upper-middle class parents.

Posted by: Nancy | September 4, 2008 9:57 AM

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm612866048/tt0057733

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

AB and Shandra have it exactly right. We have a few non-negotiable rules, which all involve safety. I'm not going to debate the merits, but I will give a short explanation; I want them to understand why we have those rules, so that as they get older, then can learn to judge for themselves in situations where there isn't necessarily a clear rule.

I don't believe one should blindly follow stupid, unnecessary, or damaging rules. I stood up to some of those as a kid and got some changed, and I'd support my kids doing the same, as long as they understood and were willing to take the consequences of doing so. Of course, as a parent, I've been guilty of enforcing a few of those myself. For me, the "because I said so" response is a good warning sign: when I resort to that, it's usually because I haven't really thought through the "why" part myself -- I was doing something because I'd been brought up that way myself, without considering whether it was necessary or appropriate here and now.

Posted by: Laura | September 4, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Nancy,

Donna and Cecilia are just like the Energizer Bunny, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Works of fiction, you know, just like you!

(and quite insipid fiction at that!)

Posted by: Uh, give it up Nancy! | September 4, 2008 10:02 AM


Thats completely untrue. I am a real person, as is Donna and Cecilia. We are white, suburban, upper middle class parents with similar parenting styles.

Posted by: Nancy | September 4, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Beware Lizards bearing Trojans.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 10:18 AM
---------------------------------------
I'm a Lifestyles(TM) kind of guy...The brand name! The brand name, dammit!

Posted by: Sasquatch | September 4, 2008 10:25 AM

LTL says:

"I want what is in that box! "

Umm, LTL, would you change your mind if I told you that the box contents have been re-gifted from Salma Hayek?

Posted by: Sasquatch | September 4, 2008 10:28 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Thats completely untrue. I am a real person, as is Donna and Cecilia. We are white, suburban, upper middle class parents with similar parenting styles.


Posted by: Nancy | September 4, 2008 10:33 AM

As ARE Donna and Cecilia.

The couples that have the least amount of orgasms....


http://www.imdb.com/media/rm612866048/tt0057733

Posted by: The "Do | September 4, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

On a side note, Liz please no more politics, yesterday may have been the saddest and least fun BKD in history.

Posted by: Dorkus arriving late today | September 4, 2008 9:15 AM

Yes, and no more parenting crap. Popping out a baby does not equal intelligence.

Posted by: Stop the breeding | September 4, 2008 10:58 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a rule oriented father. I have a difficult time saying, "Because I said so" with a strait face because I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I had contests as to whom could get our mother to say it first. At least I'll be honest enough to say something like, "Because if you do, [or don't], I'll get angry and that won't be in your best interest."

Like I've said before, I prefer to make it up as I go along. It makes my job as a parent a lot easier.

I did make up one rule for all my kids that I never logically explained though, - No body piercings until the 8th grade. Actually, the reason as I explained was that as a parent I have the authority to make up any rule as I see fit for no other reason than I feel like being a jerk. It became to be known as Daddy's jerk rule.

The result: My oldest daughter now has 6 or 7 holes in her ears, but hey, she followed the rules.

Posted by: DandyLion | September 4, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It became to be known as Daddy's jerk rule.

The result: My oldest daughter now has 6 or 7 holes in her ears, but hey, she followed the rules.

Posted by: DandyLion | September 4, 2008 11:08 AM

For all you know, she could have a hundred body piercings on her privates....and inside her body.

Posted by: Jerk this | September 4, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The result: My oldest daughter now has 6 or 7 holes in her ears, but hey, she followed the rules.

Posted by: DandyLion | September 4, 2008 11:08 AM

Sounds ghetto.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

My mom DID NOT want my sister to get her ears pierced. She wanted her to wait and wait. Then finally we all went and watched...my mom COULD NOT stay in the room...she almost got sick.
So the rule was because my mom just couldn't stand watching (she never got hers pierced). So I got mine at a much younger age because my sister took me. My mom was fine with it as long as she didn't have to be there.
I got my one ear pierced with three holes when I went to Israel, mom hardly noticed, no one seemed to care. :)

I say the 'I'm going to be angry' too - but it doesn't always seem to work either.

Posted by: atlmom | September 4, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

My mom DID NOT want my sister to get her ears pierced. She wanted her to wait and wait. Then finally we all went and watched...my mom COULD NOT stay in the room...she almost got sick.
So the rule was because my mom just couldn't stand watching (she never got hers pierced). So I got mine at a much younger age because my sister took me. My mom was fine with it as long as she didn't have to be there.
I got my one ear pierced with three holes when I went to Israel, mom hardly noticed, no one seemed to care. :)


Posted by: atlmom | September 4, 2008 11:21 AM

thanks for sharing this RIVETING story. we all were mesmerized.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

LOL! Ear piercing... I got my second set of holes because *my mother* wanted her ears double-pierced and didn't want to go it alone. I was happy with only one set and really wasn't interested, but she insisted. She would have been about 50 at the time...

Posted by: BxNY | September 4, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I got my one ear pierced with three holes when I went to Israel, mom hardly noticed, no one seemed to care. :)


Posted by: atlmom | September 4, 2008 11:21 AM

No one cares on the OP! Oy!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: atlmom | September 4, 2008 11:21 AM

thanks for sharing this RIVETING story. we all were mesmerized.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:29 AM

No wonder men cheat.....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Love MoxieMom's story about the sweatpants and her Dad's reaction!

Posted by: anne | September 4, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I say the 'I'm going to be angry' too - but it doesn't always seem to work either.

Posted by: atlmom | September 4, 2008 11:21 AM

There's a shocker!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Off on a tangent - How do you all handle it when your children see other children breaking the rules (important and/or safety rules) while you are insisting that yours follow the rule? For example, the rule at our health club's swimming pool is that no child is allowed in the water during swimming lessons unless that child is under the direct supervision of an instructor. At these times, the pool is closed to anyone not taking lessons and there is no lifeguard on duty. However, 99% of the lessons take place in the deep end of the pool, leaving the zero entry end unoccupied. Many parents allow their children who are either waiting to begin their lessons or waiting for a sibling to finish to play in the shallow end - often while Mom and Dad are chatting with other parents. This drives DS#2 absolutely crazy because I won't allow him to do the same. I can explain until I'm blue in the face that it's a safety rule, but that's not getting very far while he sees happy, splashing, and apparently safe peers right in front of his face. Ultimately, I've resorted to the "Because it's the rule and that's it" line, but that's tough because it drives me bonkers, too.

Eventually, I handled it by calling the regional manager and pointing out the massive liability issue present in the club's failure to enforce its own rules. Amazing how quickly they found someone to stand on the pool deck and enforce the rule. What I really wanted to do, however, is confront each and every one of those other parents about the lessons they're teaching not only their children, but mine as well. So very, very frustrating...

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

On the piercing/tattooing front: DH and I have a plan. When DSs are old enough to start wanting to "adorn" their bodies, DH is going to get his nose and eyebrow pierced and I'm getting a loud tattoo. We figure they'll be so mortified by old mom and dad's "body art" that they'll drop the idea completely ;-)

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Safety and bedtime on a school night are about the only things I'll be pushed on to invoke because-I-said-so.
But the issue of fudging other rules is interesting. My daughter has a 7th grade teacher who wants her to log her reading time and pages read. My daughter picks up books without thinking and tends to get totally lost in the story. Since reading is one of strengths, I've told her to fudge the rules and just guess on time spent reading and pages rather than read always with her eye on the clock and counting the pages. Maybe this rule helps some kids but not my kids yet I see how teachers can't have different rules for everyone (or could we really have an education system that takes individual differences into account?)

Posted by: anne | September 4, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Having a kid with autism means having the opposite problem - he *loves* the rules, and won't break any of them (that he knows of) even when following the rule would be stupid or inapropriate to the situation.

For example, a few weeks ago in the car sitting at a stop light, a firetruck with lights and sirens on needed to get through the intersection, and DH drove through the red light to make room. Older son was quite upset by the rule breaking, and it took several days of repeating the explanation that cars need to get out of the way of emergency vehicles.

I'm still not sure older son gets it, yet, but it's also come up in his driver ed lessons, so he's getting it reenforced that there are exceptions to the "stop at the red light" rule.

I realize that most kids don't have so much difficulty with understanding the exceptions - the very young don't have much sense of nuance yet, but as they grow they usually get it.

Posted by: Sue | September 4, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Noo, it's not like that in my house. It's called strong leadership - try it sometime.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:08 AM

Then I guess your kids are robots. I have never met one kid who does not say why at some point when you ask/tell them not to do something. As human beings it is inherent in us to question things, that is how we learn. Strong leadership does not mean never being questioned.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 4, 2008 8:51 AM

Eh, since you're such an incredible parent, why don't you lead this discussion.

Posted by: WhatTheFlock | September 4, 2008 8:55 AM

Strong leadership does not mean never being questioned.

Posted by: HappyDad | September 4, 2008 8:51 AM

Look up the definiton of leadership. Srtong leadership is not constantly challenged.

Posted by: Eh? | September 4, 2008 8:59 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse


Stacey,

Let's have a little more blog moderation, a little less Anonymous.

Can't you at least delete the irrelevant links to .imdb and the duplicate postings from other blogs or does that require too much leadership?

Posted by: winona | September 4, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a rule oriented father. I have a difficult time saying, "Because I said so" with a strait face because I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I had contests as to whom could get our mother to say it first. At least I'll be honest enough to say something like, "Because if you do, [or don't], I'll get angry and that won't be in your best interest."

Like I've said before, I prefer to make it up as I go along. It makes my job as a parent a lot easier.

I did make up one rule for all my kids that I never logically explained though, - No body piercings until the 8th grade. Actually, the reason as I explained was that as a parent I have the authority to make up any rule as I see fit for no other reason than I feel like being a jerk. It became to be known as Daddy's jerk rule.

The result: My oldest daughter now has 6 or 7 holes in her ears, but hey, she followed the rules.

Posted by: DandyLion | September 4, 2008 11:08 AM

It became to be known as Daddy's jerk rule.

The result: My oldest daughter now has 6 or 7 holes in her ears, but hey, she followed the rules.

Posted by: DandyLion | September 4, 2008 11:08 AM

For all you know, she could have a hundred body piercings on her privates....and inside her body.

Posted by: Jerk this | September 4, 2008 11:15 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Off on a tangent - How do you all handle it when your children see other children breaking the rules (important and/or safety rules) while you are insisting that yours follow the rule?

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:46 AM

That's usually younger son's challenge. Our usual response is, "Yes, that's what that family does. But in our family, we do this."

The example that immediately comes to mind is jay-walking vs. crossing at the corner. I used to always point out the cars coming down the street towards a jay-walker, or coming out of driveways, or turning from a side street, and how the jay-walker was putting his/her life at risk, because the drivers of the cars weren't expecting someone to walk there. Drivers expect pedestrians in crosswalks at corners.

Younger son is 11, and he doesn't ask the question any more. Now, when he sees someone else breaking one of our rules, he's as likely to tell me or DH, "We don't do that, because ..."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, didn't mean to post anonymously.

This was me:
Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:10 PM

Posted by: Sue | September 4, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

So very, very frustrating...

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:46 AM

It's even more frustrating to read this crap! Learn how to write & get a life!

Posted by: HGB | September 4, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

What I really wanted to do, however, is confront each and every one of those other parents about the lessons they're teaching not only their children, but mine as well. So very, very frustrating...

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:46 AM

From the mean streets of the health club....

Posted by: LOL | September 4, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

What I really wanted to do, however, is confront each and every one of those other parents about the lessons they're teaching not only their children, but mine as well. So very, very frustrating...

Posted by: two terrific boys | September 4, 2008 11:46 AM

No guts, no glory!

Posted by: This is Pulitzer Prize stuff | September 4, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, didn't mean to post anonymously.

This was me:
Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:10 PM

Posted by: Sue | September 4, 2008 12:13 PM

Sue - I figured it was you just before I nodded off.

Posted by: ZZ | September 4, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"What I really wanted to do, however, is confront each and every one of those other parents about the lessons they're teaching not only their children, but mine as well. So very, very frustrating..."

I dunno. This seems extreme to me. I am in charge of my kids, but feel no need to enforce the rules on others (in public places). This sounds like a control issue to me. People break the rules all the time. I can't imagine the hell it would be to always have to police others on rules. Not my cup of tea.

Posted by: Emily | September 4, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sue. You can't realistically confront them, and it is a good opportunity for your child to learn that different people do things differently. WHen my kids ask why such and such a child is allowed to do something and they aren't I say "because I'm not their mother, that's why". All families have different rules and you just need to reinforce what your values are and why. Most of it should stick. Good luck. Those people who blatantly break rules make me crazy too!

Posted by: moxiemom | September 4, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

No, Moxie, that's my line. :-) My daughter's even started answering her own questions that way before I have a chance to.

Posted by: Laura | September 4, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi laura - I'll armwestle you for rights to that line! hee hee

Posted by: moxiemom | September 4, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What I really wanted to do, however, is confront each and every one of those other parents about the lessons they're teaching not only their children, but mine as well. So very, very frustrating...
--------------------------
Well, you could have volunteered to be the shallow end lifeguard. With all that authority, you can tell them to behave and get your ya-ya's out at the same time.

Sheeh, probably the same kind who drives 55 in the left lane...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

sounds like the rule at the pool was sort of stupid. I think you should either speak to people directly (i.e., "It bothers me that you allow your child to break the rule.") or you should just butt out. As you said yourself, the kids seemed perfectly safe, so why conform and kill everyone's good time? Why not let people use their common sense rather than be beholden to every little pedantic rule?

Posted by: capitol hill | September 4, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Why not let people use their common sense rather than be beholden to every little pedantic rule?

Posted by: capitol hill | September 4, 2008 1:13 PM

I need my attention fix.

Posted by: Sigh | September 4, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I think the issues of pink hair dye and cartwheels are ridicules.

How does pink hair hurt anyone and aren't kids supposed to be running around exercising?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Hi laura - I'll armwestle you for rights to that line! hee hee

Posted by: moxiemom | September 4, 2008 12:52 PM

Two of the most pretentious bores on the blog. Things are looking up.

Posted by: zzz | September 4, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the parenting crap.
Nitwit "Moms" who can't write for poop and never shut up about their dumb kids and their even dumber problems.

Posted by: Please | September 4, 2008 12:28 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The OP is the same big bag of b.s. every day - dumba$s parenting issues, struggles and problems (HEALTH CLUB today -LOL)- then brag, brag, brag. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: OP How 2 Handbook | September 4, 2008 1:25 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ok, is anyone else having issues with the cut and paste feature? How can I paste crap from OP if its not working?

Posted by: jake e. poo | September 4, 2008 1:00 PM

The OP is the same big bag of b.s. every day - dumba$s parenting issues, struggles and problems (HEALTH CLUB today -LOL)- then brag, brag, brag. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: OP How 2 Handbook | September 4, 2008 1:25 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

i think your assistnace is needed with Nancy and the other celeb blog commentators.

Posted by: paging Jeff Stryker | September 4, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Back when our moms were on the market, they could tell right off the bat if the foxy soda jerk was unavailable because back then married men never went anywhere without their rings.


The pale band of skin is a sign he usually wears a band of gold on that left hand.

Not that a band of gold would necessarily keep a cad from straying (see also, "Mad Men's" Don Draper), but at least a lady could make an informed decision about whether or not she wanted to wander into "other woman" territory.

Nowadays, it's not so easy to tell who's taken. Lots of married men don't bother with rings and loads more just live with their significant others in a slightly more informal (though generally no less committed) cohabitation situation. I'll spare you the moralizing, but I'm here to tell you that being someone's girl on the side is a sucker's game.

So who's a lady to hit on? Not only is it harder to figure out who's on the market, a combination of factors -- namely the Internet and mobile phones -- have made it easier for the sneaky guy to disguise his relationship status. A reluctance to hand over the home digits used to be an immediate sign, but now everybody's got cell phones.

So here are some clues a woman on the prowl can look for:

1. The white stripe

There is possibly nothing cheesier on the planet than the married dude who slips his wedding ring into his pocket during a night out with the guys. Especially obvious during the summer months -- the pale white tan line is an obvious tell. Sure, you can let him buy you a drink, but wouldn't you rather bust his chops?

Don't Miss
How to stop dating Mr. Wrong
Dump your summer fling in 4 easy steps
Answer this before you move in together
2. He's too nice

This is not a slam on genuinely sweet single guys out there, but it's a proven fact that men who are otherwise engaged are approximately a bazillion times nicer to women they're trying to cheat with. They're full of compliments, cocktails and crap.

3. The invisible man

Men who won't post a photo of their face with their online personal ad will say they're just trying to be discreet (wouldn't want anyone at work to find out!) but nine times out of ten the only person he's trying to hide from is the woman who wakes up next to him each morning.

4. Friend-free zone

Don't you find it odd that the only one of his "friends" you met is that creep who hit on you the minute your man went to the loo? That's probably because he's too scared to bring you around his normal friends, who will either scold him for cheating or blow his cover.

5. TXT NLY

He's in constant communication with you -- but only via text. When you call him at night, he doesn't pick up, instead texting back, "WUT UP?" WUT UP is that he's sitting next to his real girlfriend or wife.

6. Disappearing dude

Even the smoothest operator needs to keep the home fires burning, so your relationship will be peppered with unexplained absences.

7. Homeless or husband?

If your new man always insists on going back to your place, chances are he's either shacked up with someone or (and this is possibly worse) still living with his parents. Mission abort!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

i think your assistnace is needed with Nancy and the other celeb blog commentators.

Posted by: paging Jeff Stryker | September 4, 2008 1:45 PM

English 101 would be better.

Posted by: paging Mr. webster | September 4, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

If your new man always insists on going back to your place, chances are he's either shacked up with someone or (and this is possibly worse) still living with his parents. Mission abort!


Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:48 PM

If your new man wants you to take it up the butt on your first date, he is very, very married.

Posted by: Clue | September 4, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

We seem to have gotten way of track here... Anyway, I must also take J.Lo's side on this one. I think that photos of oneself while 9 months pregnant are very different from just any old photos. Had she decided on any given Tuesday to commission a book of photos of herself, then I would absolutely think she was arrogant beyond belief. But, under the circumstances, I think that having photos taken and making a book for her husband is a way to document an amazing time in their lives.

Posted by: Pebbles | September 4, 2008 2:12 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys, thanks for the posts and to Stacey for the topic!

I generally agree that rules should be followed, and safety rules are generally just how things are.

The issues I tend to have are these arguments:
1) Kids need to respect authority and follow the rules they are given

Well, it would be nice, but you can't expect authority or respect without reasonable cause. You can't fool kids for very long, certainly not as they grow up. Trying to push the "because I said so" only makes you look more inept and makes them LOSE respect for you because you can't back it up in any substantial or rational way. Kids respect reasonability, explanations and being treated with respect as well. The more you try to just bash them in to falling in line, the more they will lose respect for ANY authority.

2) If we don't teach kids how to follow the rules and dress right now, they'll be messed up as an adult.

I don't get how this follows. Surely we all know there are some rules that are stupid and breakable but others which are not? If a kid can't express themselves through their fun clothes and colors when they are a kid, when exactly do we encourage that? I see no reason you can't teach a kid how to be very unique and individualistic in how they dress AND when to know how to dress up/formally when it's necessary.

Thanks again guys!

Posted by: Liz D | September 4, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

If your new man always insists on going back to your place, chances are he's either shacked up with someone or (and this is possibly worse) still living with his parents. Mission abort!


Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:48 PM

If your new man wants you to take it up the butt on your first date, he is very, very married.


Posted by: Clue | September 4, 2008 2:00 PM

#1 Mission Abort Coda

The teeniest, tiniest chance that your DNA would one day ever, ever touch/mix with ArmyBrat's DNA (Eeeew) - even a skillion years from now -

MISSION ABORT! MISSION ABORT! MISSION ABORT!

Posted by: Warning! Will Robinson | September 4, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again guys!

Posted by: Liz D | September 4, 2008 2:30 PM

Earth to Liz D -

How many kids do you have??

Posted by: Come in, Liz D | September 4, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

This may be a bit off topic but... here goes. It's amazing to watch the parents picking up their kids at school and NOT obeying the rules, ie illegally parking, not picking up at the appropriate place etc... Even though these may be minor infractions, what kind of example are they setting for their children? Parents, be mindful that you are setting an example and your kids are smart enough to know that you are breaking the rules!

Posted by: Anon | September 4, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Nancy, Liz D, and atlmom - we have a gift for you. check out the Celeb Blog, the J.lo post, and read the comments at 2:51.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone see Leslie being interviewed by Meredith Viera about Palin and the Mommy Wars. Pretty cool stuff. I miss OB.

Posted by: Emily | September 4, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company