When I started my teaching career, I remember some advice from a mentor; although most of the time you are the only adult in a classroom with students, you should always act as if your principal or a parent volunteer is in the back of the room. You shouldn’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t do if someone wasn’t watching.
I think about this in regards to my own parenting.
My son is a gamer. He starts a new “epic” game and is consumed by it until he is done with it and moves on to another. He loves the visual aspects and is annoyed to see pixels or glitches that in his opinion, ruin the experience of the game. The Lego Wii games and the Super Mario selection that he started with as a four-year old, were initially okay, but quickly he conquered them and wanted to move on and up.
Because of this, my son plays video games that others might not consider appropriate for a nine-year old. The sight of guns or killing zombies would be offensive to some. I get it. I’m not thrilled with it, but I allow it in short doses. I monitor the use of mics by sitting in the room and I lecture about the unfortunate use of guns and violence in the “real world” more often than anyone would want to hear.
I have explained to my son that while we allow him to play these particular games, other families don’t. I explain that other guests would not like it, such as our kind-hearted nanny or grandparents, so he isn’t allowed to play them at those times.
I don’t think that this is an unusual parenting technique. Allowing some things in our home, with us monitoring, that others would not approve of in the outside world.
Looking back, my parents believed that it was okay for my sister and I to have a drink during family gatherings prior to our legal drinking age. I’m not talking about being twelve and consuming a double Vodka Collins; I’m referring to a glass of beer or wine during a celebration such as a graduation event at eighteen. As a parent now, I believe it was their thinking that if you make something taboo that it becomes even bigger, than it really is.
If parents closely supervise these first experiences than they can explain the repercussions and responsibilities that go along with the sometimes forbidden act.
There are times when swear words are used in our house. Is it daily? No. But sometimes I find that there are certain times when a low-level swear word seems to be necessary. If as a fairly intelligent adult that is usually in control of my surroundings, I feel this way, why wouldn’t an impulsive, emotional nine-year old boy feel the same way? Right or wrong, he hears these words on television, on the internet and frankly, during gatherings with extended family and friends.
We have discussed the various swear words and it seems that we have agreed upon a scale of severity with these words. When he has stubbed his toe, broken an important item, or lost a game that he worked extremely long and hard on, some of the lower level swear words seem appropriate.
Not for everyone and not for everywhere, but in our house with us…it seems okay.
This “for our eyes only” thinking has it’s complications such as arriving for a playdate or an occupational therapy appointment and wanting to rehash all about the progress that you made on the questionable game.
I admit that I get a bit embarrassed and deep down I wonder if it is appropriate, but then I remind myself that these are the choices that we have made for our family.
So now I ask all of you…Are there practices that you allow in your home, behind closed doors, that you wouldn’t want the rest of the world to necessarily see your child doing? Late bedtime? High sugar intake? What about that popular movie that is PG13?
Come on…be honest.