I like to think that I am doing a good job teaching my boys life lessons and not just being the [cool] mom that I am.
I truly believe that being a single parent has forced me to be a *better* parent. I also believe that being a single parent has blessed me with the opportunity to build incredible and deep relationships with the kids.
I don’t hide hardships from them. I also don’t miss an opportunity to let them know how much I do for them. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially… I share the cost of everything with them, if they are interested, and try to put it all in perspective. Of course, I do not do this in a way that burdens them. It is never out of anger that we have this discussion, but I do think it is important for them to be aware. I simply just say “wow, registering the three of you for school just cost $500“. They get it.
They have chores and they don’t get paid. If they want to do something above and beyond like mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, blowing out the garage… I will pay them. But regular household chores are a part of life that you don’t get paid to do. Not in my house anyway.
I cannot give my boys everything they want and actually they don’t ask for much. They don’t even have tv’s or computers in their rooms. In fact, I asked them if they wanted tvs last year and they said no. What? Teenagers? Most, if not all, of their friends not only have tv’s and computers or laptops but they have a video game conosle or two also! I just don’t see how this can be beneficial for a family.
My 16 year old is a week away from getting his license. He has been driving me around town and I LOVE IT!! This has also made him aware. Aware of *real* responsibility (unbeknownst to me). We were getting ready to go somewhere the other day and he asked if he could drive. Of course. He came back a minute later with $11 and handed it to me. When I asked him what it was for he told me that the car was low on gas. I took it.
When we were getting gas and it got to $11 he asked if he should stop. I told him I would pay to fill up the rest. When it didn’t stop at $15 he was shocked. At $20… $25… $30… until it stopped at $38. He said “wow.”
I told this story to some friends yesterday, because I was so proud, and they asked me if I took the $11. I told them of course I had taken it. They were shocked! And I was shocked that they were shocked. I viewed his giving me $11 totally unsolicited as a hugely positive thing. I mean, I hadn’t asked for it or even mentioned anything about him paying so when he offered me the $11, I took it without thinking twice. Until my friends were shocked.
Later that evening I thought long and hard about how the whole thing had gone down. If I had to do it all over again I would still take the $11. Not only did it show me that he KNOWS raising kids is difficult financially but that he respects me for it. It also gave him a great amount of ownership in the whole process.
Let kids make mistakes and let them take ownership of life while you are still there to guide them.
I can handle other peoples’ shock at my parenting choices. In the end, I know that my son is learning a life lesson. One that he chose to learn and I am so very proud of him! $11 is a small price to pay.