I’m not sure how my kids got the idea that our family operates as a democracy, heck we aren’t even a representative republic around here. Sure they have their say but as the parents we have nothing requiring us to act on or heed their requests. Ultimately all decisions come from above (us). We’ve tried to explain that at best this home is a benevolent dictatorship more than anything else.
I do not understand parents who give their children equal say in family decisions, that is not parenting that is governing which are two very different things. I do want my kids input when it comes to a lot of things, what movies to see, what restaurants to eat at, what parks to go to etc. but ultimately their input is just that, input – it is not a vote, in the end the final decision lies with my husband and myself.
That said, finding a balance is very important. Letting the kids know that their input is valued and taken into consideration in this dictatorship and deciding how much weight to give that input when making decisions is key, especially as the kids are getting older Letting them have more say but not final say is also a balance.
I’ve seen young children running their parents lives and it dismays me every time. Not in the way that the children have busy schedules so parents have insanely busy schedules but in more subtle ways. Say a child wants to take dance classes and there are multiple dance schools to choose from. The Mother wants one school and the child wants to attend a different one. When I hear the Mother say “I wanted XX school, but she wanted YY school and ultimately she won” I can’t believe it. The child is 6, you are 35 – how is it even possible that the child “won”? Or when a 12 year old saves up their own money to buy a TV for their bedroom and the parent says “I didn’t want him to have a TV in his room but he saved up his own money so what could I do?” You could say "NO" you are the parent.
My Dad had a lot of sayings that were drilled into my head growing up. “This is not a democracy”. “Life is not fair”. “Thing can be either fair OR equal but rarely both”. “I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to be your parent” and a number of others, especially ones that started with the words “while you are under my roof…”. While I may have disagreed with many of them while growing up, I’ve come to depend on them as part of my parenting of my own children. Yep, I make unpopular decisions – but not all the time. And even if they are unpopular the are usually good decisions.
Nearly every right they are given in this home is give by us. No child has a right to a cell phone, a facebook account, a computer, a TV, an iPod, certain clothes, to go out when they want etc. When they spend their own money if they buy something I do not approve of I can take it back or take it away.
I just really wish the parents of some of their friends felt the same way.