There are people who tell their kids everything and then there are people who hide everything from their kids. We probably fall closer to the end of telling them everything, but we're not quite there. Are there things we hide from our kids? Definitely. They are children. They don't need to be burdened with all adult things. Yet, there is a line. You can't hide your struggles from your kids. Husband and I fight. Some people are of the opinion that you never fight in front of your kids. We are not of that opinion. There are things we will not say to each other in front of the kids, but we do argue. It's important for kids to see that marriage takes work. It's not always the "honeymoon" period. (For clarification, by fight, I do not mean we punch and or hurt each other. I was asked to clarify that by someone because they think of fighting as physical) By fighting in front of the kids, they get to see that married couples are allowed to have differences of opinions. They see that we get our feelings hurt. They also see that it takes compromise. They see it takes respect. They see that we don't always get our own way and we learn how to deal with it. They see how people can still love each other and work on problems together. They see that you don't always have to agree, and sometimes, it's a stalemate. They see that relationships take work. They see you don't just give up when things get hard. Not in our house, but in some situations, they see that sometimes you can't work past those differences and you need to end the relationship. That is why some people are scared to argue in front of their children, but there's a flip side to that. If you never argue in front of them and they think everything is great, when it ends, they are blindsided. I am not a child of divorce, but I know that talking to people who are, those who were blindsided took it harder and it was harder to work through.
We all make bad decisions. There are parents out there who don't want their children to know that they aren't perfect. This immediately sets kids up for failure in life. If they view their parents as never making mistakes, they feel like they, too must be perfect. That's not realistic. I am constantly telling my kids when I make poor choices! It's equally important to see that there are consequences for poor choices. I chose the wrong line at the grocery store; consequence is that I wait longer. I didn't completely stop at the stop sign; consequence is I got a ticket. Kids need to see that some choices have worse consequences than others. We need to own up to our mistakes. Mommy didn't stop at the stop sign, so she got a ticket. Action=consequence. There is no whining on my part on how the $170 ticket for rolling through a stop sign when no was coming is not fair (even when I think it's crap that it's that expensive and I totally yielded). It is what it is because I made that choice. They can then apply these things to their own lives. If, as a parent, you are constantly taking the responsibility of your actions off of yourself and complaining things aren't fair, then your children will be the same way. "I failed the test because the teacher has it in for me", nevermind the kid didn't study. "I have detention because the principal hates me", nevermind the kid was caught writing things on the bathroom walls. Will they run into people who really do have it out for them? Yes. Sometimes is the consequence completely unfair? Yes. But it matters that they see that. Sometimes, things aren't fair, but if all we do is whine about it, then kids never learn that, sometimes, you need to change your behavior. Imagine if I always rolled through stop signs and got a ticket each time and complained how unfair it was. I'm showing my kids that even though I don't follow the rules, it doesn't matter, the police are just out to get me. They then grow up thinking nothing is their fault and people are just out to get them and their family. Forget that what was done was breaking the law, everyone is just out to get them. As a kid, you always feel like the world is out to get you. It's important that, as parents, we don't add fuel to that. It's important that we show actions having consequences. You don't study for the test, you may fail. You write on the bathroom wall, you may get detention. You roll through a stop sign, you may get an outrageously priced ticket. (let me add, it's been at least 5 years since this ticket, but my kids still like to bring it up, and I let them because it's a good lesson)
It's important to not try to make every moment fun for you kids. Kids need to be bored. They need to be able to entertain themselves. I know people whose children constantly complain about being bored and the parents go off and find an activity for them to do or they tell them to just go play on electronics. If that works for you, then great, but remember that you are then teaching your children that other people are responsible for entertaining them. When kids are very young, you need to show them options of what to do when they feel like they have nothing to do. You also need to show them it's OK to be bored. We all get bored. The difference is, most of us can figure it out on our own and we don't expect others to entertain us. When my kids have friends over,they know better than to say they are bored. They know I will not entertain them. They are 12 and 9, they don't need someone making each moment of their lives fun. From my 9 year old, I still get the occasional, "What should we do?" I don't stop what I'm doing and find things. I list a million things they could do and then I add, "If you guys are really that bored and don't want to do anything, I guess it's time for [whomever] to go home". It's amazing how kids can then figure out something to do on their own! Of course there are things that sometimes kids need help doing, and I'm happy to help out with, but it's got to be their idea. Sunshine has a friend who she loves to bake with. I used to stand over them and help them bake, but the last time, I didn't. I let them do it all on their own. Their creation didn't come out perfect, but it was edible! Electronics are just another form of someone else having to entertain you. I realize we have very strict rules about electronics (phones, computers, video games, tv) in this house, however, it helps kids understand that they can turn to something else when they are bored.
That all being said, life can definitely be fun. We have so much fun with our kids! We do all sorts of things with our kids where we have fun. Yesterday, we went to the local Ice Festival. Did we go because I felt we needed to make the day magical? No. We went because it's fun. Do we do things like that every night or every weekend? No. There are nights we do nothing. Let me rephrase that for those of you who actually know me....there are night we don't do fun family activities. To be more specific, there are Fridays, which are our only free nights, where we don't do fun family activities. In fact, the majority of Fridays, we sit at home and do NOTHING. The thing is, most of our nothing times, we're having more fun than if we planned something. It's not about making every moment packed with something to do. It's about be present. It's about truly enjoying each other and being able to be with each other without always being on the go. Kids need to learn that everything isn't always fun, but you can have a lot fun along your life journey.