Old School Mom

I’m not sure if it’s more my upbringing,  my close relationship with my mom and grandma, or the fact that I have an unusually large number of children, but when it comes to being a mother, I’m so old school. Personally, I think being an old school mom is great, but I feel like I’m in the minority of parenting styles.  I can count on one hand the number of friends I have that I can completely relate to when it comes to parenting.  Of course, there’s nothing really wrong with any style of parenting.  I appreciate and learn from many different mothers.  In fact, my number one motto of motherhood is “Do what works for you!”

But I feel what works for me isn’t the most popular.

I know times have dramatically changed and kids today are dealing with things I could never have imagined {Hello, sexting!}, but does everything have to change? I don’t think so.  I think there is still a place for some old school values.

So what makes me an old school mom?  I’m so glad you asked.

Modern Moderation

Now don’t get me wrong, I love modern technology and the convenience it brings.  I take pictures and videos with my phone, my kids watch age appropriate TV and YouTube videos, and my visually impaired daughter even has her own iPad. {The vision stimulation apps are amazing!} However, this is all in moderation.  My other kids aren’t allowed near Leah’s iPad.  The TV is only on at certain times of the day.  Play with Mommy’s phone? Um, I don’t think so.

Since becoming a parent, it has astonished me what people consider the norm for kids and electronics and what is just expected for kids to have.  On more than one occasion I have been told that I need to get each kid their own iPad or DVD player, especially for our long road trips. Seriously?  Get 6 toddlers their own device?  Devices their parents don’t even have?  Um, I don’t think so.  I don’t plan on getting my kids cell phones when they’re in elementary school or their own cars when they turn 16.  I expect them to continue to have down time without electronics and have actual conversations at the dinner table as a family.  Because however wonderful the latest tech gadget is, it’s no replacement for quality time.

Parents are Authority

5 little ducklingsAs an old school mom, not much irks me more than seeing children running the household.  Did you ever see that commercial where the parents choose the house based on the kids’ approval?  Or the one where the parent apologizes to the child for sneaking a cookie?  That’s what I’m talking about.

I get wanting to cater to your child’s every whim, but I don’t get actually doing it.  Especially if it discredits your authority as the parent.  Parents are to guide and teach their children with love, not be their best buddy.  And sometimes that love is tough love.  And sometimes the discipline routine of redirection and time outs has lost its magic and you just need to pinch an arm or spank a bottom to get the point across.  Because you’re the mom.  And you said so.

Along the lines of authority is respect.  And let’s not forget manners.  I expect my children to respect adults and learn appropriate manners for their age.  They’re only two, but we’ve started on the “please” and “thank yous”.  And if someone is yelling “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY” while one of Leah’s therapists is teaching me something, I let them know they are interrupting and that is rude.  I’m sure one day it’ll sink in.

Play

found itI’m not sure when it happened, but some time between my childhood and having my own children, the art of play changed.  I feel like it’s expected to have your kids in structured activities and organized play by the time they’re 2.  And drill those early concepts.  But why so early?  What’s wrong with letting them just play?  Choose their own toy and how they want to play with it.  Who cares if it’s not what the toy is supposed to be for or there’s a mess or it takes them a long time to figure something out?  All of that goes into their little brains learning and developing imagination and problem solving skills.  Soon enough they’ll be in school and that’s what life will be.  Let them be little!

Now before you think I’m getting hippy dippy on you, my house is run on a tight schedule and routine and there are rules and expectations.  But when it’s play time, it’s play time.  Every now and then I do throw in a structured group activity when I feel like it, but it’s not the norm.  And I can tell you all of them know every bit of knowledge 2 year olds are expected to know, and they all learned it through free play.

The Big Picture

It’s what my fellow old school mama friends and I agree on.  Our big picture for our kids.  As we are parenting our littles and making decisions everyday, we’re thinking – how does this affect them down the road?  Sometimes, it’s overwhelming.  But mostly, it helps me focus.  I want my children to grow up knowing Christ, and to be strong, independent, confident, productive members of society.  I don’t intend to rescue them from every little crisis they face as an adult, so I choose to not do that now.  Sometimes they need to fix their own problem and take responsibility for their own actions.

One thing that has stuck with me since my days of working in schools is the blame shift.  When I was young and the teacher told my mom I misbehaved, she questioned me and I got in trouble.  Now it’s more likely the teacher is blamed for the situation because the child “would never do such a thing”.  At one of my schools it happened so frequently I deemed it the “not MY baby syndrome”.  Well, guess what, sometimes your baby will do something wrong and they need to learn a lesson.

I have no doubt that the older they get, the harder it’ll be to discern the line between helping and enabling, but I will try my best because I see the big picture.  I know it’ll be tough when my kids come home upset because they don’t have the latest and greatest whatever their friends have, or they can’t do everything their friends are doing, but such is life.  I am the parent and they are the kids, opinions are considered, but parents make the decisions.  And if one day I eat some of my words I wrote today, so be it.  My kids will grow up knowing they are loved… iPad or not.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I have the same parenting style and I have felt unpopular these past 4 years. My DS doesn’t know who batman is, or what the latest blinky lit up toys does. He’s doing very well and I am thankful for that.

  2. I want to say how much I appreciate articles like this that let me know that my husband and I are not alone in our old school way of thinking and parenting. We have a yours, mine and ours situation, but my husband has adopted my children so we have raised six full time and have his two additional kids during half the summer. They are raised in an extremely liberal household when not with us. It has been a battle for years between us and their mother as to why we won’t allow them to have 24/7 access to their smart phones during the summer. If they bring them, we put them up other than for their phone calls to their mom. It infuriates her that we have the gall to enforce THE RULES IN OUR OWN HOME and beliefs that a twelve and thirteen year old do not need and should not have unrestricted access to any app, etc, that they so desire. Do you know that Steve Jobs himself didn’t allow his own children to ever even use the ipad and was quoted as saying that he limited the amouny of electronics that were used by his own children in his home? My stepkids talk and brag about how the different apps they use and have “hidden” on their phones (like the dangerous snapchat) that their mother is so clueless about (their words, not mine. Though I agree with the accuracy of that statement!) them having and using. She is currently trying to drag us to court to try to have a judge order us to allow unrestricted internet and phone access during the summer, as she cannot fathom us insisting on them followin the same rules that apply to our other six kids in regards to electronics….something we are fighting tooth and nail for – our right to parent and set rules within our own home as we see fit. So thanks for the bit of reassurance that we aren’t alone! (And sorry for the novel!)

    • You are not alone! Thanks for the tidbit about Steve Jobs. I had no idea! I admire you for sticking to your guns throughout this tough battle. I hope and pray everything can be resolved without going to court. I can’t imagine the stress you must be under, but I believe you are doing the best you can for your kids, so way to go!

  3. What a beautiful and straight from the hip (and heart) article!
    I am exactly the same way and yes as my boys, ages 5 and 9, have gotten older it is harder when they come home and say, “but so and so has it”! My reply to that has become, “if you want it that badly you can spend your own money!” I also do not understand the needs for elementary aged students to have cell phones! I think my boys will have them either when they are learning to drive or MAYBE in 7th grade but only the basics text only type!! I think its ridiculous that children have nicer phones and expect them than their parents.

    We also have one rule at home and out in public (that I try to adhere to) no phones at the table! Drives me crazy when I look at a family and they are all staring at blue screens instead of each talking with other!! I use that time to engage in conversation and teach my boys about manners and “play” with them! We color and laugh and enjoy family time together. After all, eating out is a treat!

  4. I loved this. I’m actually not parenting my son the same, but it’s a nice reminder that there are more important things than the latest and greatest. I love that you brought it back to “the big picture”. I wrote something similar about fighting only the battles that are necessary to win the war. “Win the war” was my “big picture”. I think parenting can get caught up in the little, annoyances, so it’s important to bring ourselves back to our overall goal. Loved this!

  5. Loved it Lauren. My husband and I couldn’t agree with you more. I hope we continue this strong as they get older. Keep up the hard work. Your kids will thank you for it when they are well mannered responsible adults.

  6. Love it! My 10 year old son doesn’t have a fun and you’d think we are starving him to death. I didn’t have a phone until I was in my 20s. Who does he need to call?! I wish more parents were old school!

  7. Amen! We have definitely become the minority with this parenting style. I can honestly say that I am probably the only one in my close circle of friends that parents this way. It is difficult in this day an age where it seems everyone is always plugged in. My child is 5 and we have a no tv rule on school nights. No IPad unless after homework and only educational games. There have been times I have taken my son on play dates where the other kids bring the IPad! What happened to running around at the park and getting dirty?! I also agree with the disciplining our child when the teachers gives a complaint about their behavior. What happened to being accountable for their actions? The last thing a teacher wants to do is send a note home. Children need to know that showing respect and manners will take them a long way.

  8. I never really considered my parenting style as old school bc I don’t appreciate how I was treated by my parents growing up, so I do things differently than they did. I have a good relationship with my mom but not much of one with my dad. But I actually agree with almost everything you’ve written here. My boys watch TV some, but they don’t have any other electronics. We couldn’t afford them anyway, and they don’t seem to care. My oldest is 4.5; we are homeschooling but they just play right now. I don’t do anything structured with them usually. They are good ab please and thank you most of the time; we are working on yes ma’am/yes sir at the moment.

    I completely agree with you on this:
    “Parents are to guide and teach their children with love”

    But you contradict yourself with this:
    “pinch an arm or spank a bottom to get the point across. Because you’re the mom. And you said so.
    Along the lines of authority is respect.”

    Pinching someone’s arm or hitting their butt is not respectful or loving. Other than that I think this was a great post.

  9. This article was great! I never really questioned my parenting style. Because it works for us. But I guess, in a way we are old school as well. I can count the number of electronic toys we have on less than one hand. I don’t believe in them. Yes we have an Ipad, but it’s a FAMILY Ipad, (I actually bought it for work but it gets played by everyone) but time on the Ipad are limited and it is shared throughout everyone. Even Dad uses it.

    I believe in imagination. I want my son to grow up not having to have everything handed to him with an instruction manual but to be able to improvise. We have a million Legos. Why? Because he can do ANYTHING with them. We try to play with things that take imagination to a whole new level and let him do what he wants with them. I’m amazed the things he thinks of every day to fit the needs he has at the time.

    I’m not a fan of spanking, more so because of my own personal baggage. It was taken too far when I was a child out of anger and I knew from then I never wanted to do that with my own children. But I have found my own things that work. For the most part, time outs and warnings are really all that’s needed for my little guy. If it takes anything more, it’s a loss of privilege or toys.

    I’m also considered a helicopter parent, at least by some. No I don’t follow my son around but I keep my eye on him. He’s very short for his age and easily gets lost in a crowd or pushed around. And while some people admonish me saying ‘He’s fine, Mom’ I don’t let them bother me. If I want to keep an eye on him, that’s my job. My job is to guide him through life. He’s still learning the rules and boundaries in the world and my job is to make sure he knows it’s NOT okay to run into someone else’s garage and get out a toy just because it’s open. (I’ve had neighbor kids do that to my garage without asking and it’s very annoying because there are things in my garage that could hurt someone and I don’t want to be held responsible.) So I might be old school, but I’m not changing my ways. I’m doing my job the way I see fit.

    Thank you again for this article!

  10. Yes, very much so! We have 8 kids, aged 1 to almost 17, and this is very much how we parent. My husband and I are very tech-oriented – it’s what he does for a living and what I used to do – but we’re always surprised and confused by small children playing on iPads at the dinner table in restaurants! We often have to remind each other to put our phones away, because it’s rude not to pay attention to your dinner companions, but it’s such a temptation! So why would we go out of our way to provide devices to distract the kids? How would they learn to engage in dinner conversation? Why even bother going out then? We’re could eat in front of the TV for a lot less money!

    I also don’t understand why kids need big bags of distraction on road trips. We’ve taken road trips from Houston to Phoenix and Arkansas without any more distractions than the radio, conversation, and the beautiful scenery. Neither do I tote around snacks everywhere I go – any child who is weaned can wait until the next meal to eat. (Of course, none of my kids have any health issues that would require different accommodation.)

    My kids aren’t perfectly behaved angels, but they do know what’s expected of them and what will happen if they misbehave, and they have the sense to put the best foot forward when we’re out and about. They are usually more shocked by children misbehaving in public than I am! They know Momma would never let that fly!

    Regarding free play, how I wish more parents would just let their kids go outside and play! I feel so sorry for kids who have school all day, then homework, extra curriculars, dinner, bed, then start all over again the next day! My kids finish homeschool and do chores, then run out to play around 2 – and the neighborhood is empty all afternoon. Their friends are all too busy to play! It’s sad!

    And a vision for their future – yes! My oldest will be an adult soon, and I am seeing the vision coming to life! I took great care to teach her the skills she needs to take care of herself, gave her responsibility so she could learn to care for others, and let her make mistakes so she could learn to make her own way. Remember, you’re not raising kids, you’re raising adults!

  11. Love this. As a teacher, I’ve seen what happens to students who aren’t taught to take responsibility for their actions, both in high school and college. Children don’t suddenly gain admirable character traits and critical thinking skills, they must be taught these things. Kudos to all the mommas fighting our entitled culture and instilling truth into your kiddos.

  12. Let me tell you how Old School I am 🙂 We have zero electronics in the minivan when our family of 6 takes a 10 hour road trip family vacation! We play punch buggy, eye spy and sing songs.
    Also, we play cards and charades and karaoke together most summer nights bc we only have one TV. (Intentionally) Also, my kids share rooms bc it’s our family culture and we eat dinner together as a family almost every single night 🙂 I cook almost every night too (that I wouldn’t mind changing a bit 😉
    Old school, baby! 9 years and 4 kids and we’re still going strong! Keep up the good work!

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