I will start of saying that I am a tough mom! But, I know that by being tough now, in the future my boy will most likely grow up to be a contributing member of society in a positive way instead of negative way. He just turned six a week ago and he is the happiest boy you would ever meet. He is considerate, loving, polite and helpful. I think the reason is because we don’t shelter Frankie. We have always been very BLUNTLY open with him. We get surprised stares at times from other parents because of the way we talk to him or explain things to him. Sometimes even the PROPER words we use.
I believe that our kids now a days need to understand that there is good BUT also evil! When we talk to Frankie we leave ALL emotions out. I think you cannot talk to a child and be all emotional about it. We are in an era that we have to have hands on combat mechanisms. I believe that we must give our children the tools they will use to defend themselves but at the same time as parents we have to be their advocate. Listen to them, notice any changes, agree with them, BELIEVE them! As parents it is our job to “notice” but we don’t always notice, so what do we do in that instance?
We are raising Frankie up to come to us with ANY problems or questions. We tell him that he will NEVER be in trouble for coming to us or asking us about some hard topics. When he tells us something that I’m not gonna lie is SHOCKING, we act like we are not surprised and thank him for bringing it up. We try to tell him why it is wrong and what we can do in that circumstance. For example, at his age he would come to us with “Mommy, I heard a bad word at school” I would ask him which one and he would tell me that he didn’t want to repeat it because he didn’t want to get in trouble. I will then tell him it is OK because I want to know the word and that sometimes it isn’t such a bad word just not a very nice one. I also tell him that when he brings stuff up instead of us finding out that he will not be in trouble. He would then tell me that his friend said stupid or some other word that isn’t appropriate to use but one that I personally don’t consider a bad word. Like Damn! (That word is a huge argument between the hubby and I. I don’t think it is a bad word and he does. Maybe it is because I use it frequently. It is more of a saying to me. But, Francisco thinks it is inappropriate so I have to stand by that and tell Frankie not to use it) One day though he told us the “F” word and how a friend used that word in school and he wanted to know if it was bad. We were eating dinner and I nearly choked but Francisco and I acted all cool about it. We said yes, that is a VERY bad word. Then came the question of what it means…. Oh Lord! We explained it at a level that a five year old would understand but at the same time made it very clear that is one of those words that is unacceptable.
A lot of times we come across other parenting skills that we don’t agree with and you might be reading this and not agree with us. heck! Francisco sometimes doesn’t agree with some of my methods, but as a couple we come together and talk about it and come to an understanding of how we will parent Frankie. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever we are doing is working for us now and it might change as Frankie gets older but it is what we do for now so no judgement from your part since this is the way we raise our child and we don’t judge what others do because each parent has their own method right?
One of the things we don’t like is to instill FEAR in our kid. I see this a lot with other parents and I personally don’t agree with it. We avoid the concept of fear. (EXAMPLE: If you talk to strangers they will kidnap you. NO!) You can’t let fear run your parenting style. At some point you have to let go and let life happen despite your best efforts. And trust me, I know it is hard to let go. You can’t live entirely by fear so why raise your child by drilling fear in their minds? When they are older they won’t be prepared to have something hard happen if they are fearful. At least that is our belief. We can show them to act upon that fear instead. However, we avoid dangerous circumstances too. For example, Frankie knows he can have anyone over at anytime including a sleep over, BUT he will NEVER participate in a sleepover over at someone else’s house. I don’t care if it is family. YEAH, strict much? I don’t care what anyone thinks about this topic because to us (Francisco and I) it is a non negotiable. I am protecting my child to an extend. Not only protection from sexual abuse, but conversations and things that you and I very well know can happen during sleepovers. If he were to EVER go to a sleepover they better be prepared to invite the hubby and I. I am not kidding. We like to expose him to a lot and be real with him but at the same time facilitate a safe space for him and that is the way we think it is best.
I know it is impossible to shelter him out of bullying, racism, sexual abuse, pornography or any other “HARDCORE” topics. Instead, we talk about it, we explain it and we give him the tools. There is no way for our son to eventually see an inappropriate picture or be involved in an inappropriate conversation when we are not there (like school) and that is why we must teach them and talk to them about it and once again, don’t act surprised when it comes up in conversation. We always let him tell us anything and he knows no wrong or punishment will come out of it. Every day when we pick him up from school we ask him how his day went. Whether it is Francisco or I and then when the other parent greets him at home, we ask him again and 99% of the time he adds on to what happened during his day. He will tell us a lot and even before bed once more we ask what was a highlight of his day or something bad (if any?) If there was something wrong or bad he saw or came across? He is pretty good at telling us about it on that day and sometimes it can come up in conversation the next day. But ALWAYS ask and ask again. When it was something shocking, maybe traumatic like “CODE RED”, we then talk to him about it and once he understands we end the conversation and it is important that when the conversation is over that we channel him towards a fun activity that will remove that topic from his head. It will also show our kids that we were cool about talking about such topics and things can go back to normal or fun.
We tell Frankie that there is a lot of evil in the world. We cannot shelter our children with what goes on in the world, but we also tell him that there is more good and that every person out there needs love and that sometimes bad people do bad things because they didn’t feel loved. It might not be our jobs fully to love a person, but we must “show” them love and that we care. Also not to judge because of what you hear. This is even tough for us as grownups. We explain to him that at times people might be having a bad day causing them to act a certain way and although it is not okay we must see good in people. We tell him there is good in everyone and those are the things we must see in people. At the same time, YES there are evil things, bad people, wrong circumstances and our son can’t ever be too prepare from things, but we can’t let fear run us. We cannot shelter them either. If we do what do you think would happen when they encounter “a problem or situation”? We can’t always be there for them. It is impossible.
I may be wrong to some parents reading this and hey! I get it! We each have our style but these are just my two cents!