One Kid At A Time.
I've heard more than once that parents tend to get more lenient with successive children. Why is that and is it true? I have to say it was true of my parents. Then again I was the last of 5 and 9 years later. Not to mention I followed two boys. But was that the reason?
I tend to think my parents just got tired.
But I do believe that you have to take the individual child into consideration.
When we started out we were strict parents. Really Strict. Our oldest taught us that you can be strict all you want but that doesn't mean anyone is going to listen to or obey you. What did we do when it came to the next one? We relaxed. A Little Bit. Just a little. For instance giving them a little more personal freedom to get themselves around town at a younger age. Riding bikes to the library and nearby places the kids hang out.
This was at 13 for Mid.
Lit could go with her at 11. So when Lit hit 12 and Mid didn't want to go somewhere we heard a whole lot of complaining...from both of them. Sooo, we let Littlest go on her own.
How did relaxing things work? Well. It didn't stop Mid from making stupid decisions. Once. Twice on a couple of things. But she straightened up -or shut up and flies under the radar really well. I have highly advanced "Mamadar" as I call it. Middlest is not very ambitious. Having made a couple of stands I think she realized that partying and sneaking out takes a lot of effort. Now that she has realized the full extent of freedom you can reach as a minor in our home she doesn't do much. Her curfew has been eleven since she turned 17. Most of the time she turns up between 9:30 and 10. I figured I would up it to 12 after the first of the year because she was heading to graduation and 18 next year. I'm not sure if it's even worth it because she rarely stays up that late.
Where my real laying down of my arms comes in is with Littlest. Not only is she the biggest pain in the butt when she wants something she also has the most common sense. As younger siblings always do she points out that her sister having a privilege she does not is "not fair." The problem with that is that it is fair. To which she will point out that "I never cause any trouble. I never do anything wrong." Then she will list Everything her sisters have done as an example. She is right about that. The fact is I have let her do multiple things earlier than I allowed her sisters to. Littlest Rarely gets grounded. She is destroying my blog rep. (Note to Lit: That does not mean have at it.)
These were some of our basic rules:
No online social networking until 14
No riding in cars with teen drivers until 15
No car dating until 16
No dating out of you age range- we figured 1, possibly 2 years was fair.
Curfew was 10 P.M. at age 15
10:30P.M. at 16 and 11P.M. at 17.
Now Biggest of course doesn't even count. The basic rule in her teen years turned into "if you come in screwed up and start tearing up the house and threatening us we are calling the cops."
The social networking went out the window when Mid was 13 and Lit 11 because I caught them with My Space accounts that they were using at the library. I noticed they suddenly spent much longer there and did a search. Sure enough. They were in trouble but we discussed it and realized it was safer to have it under our control by being aware of what was going on.
Middlest made some bad decisions a couple of times her sophomore year. She fell in with a bad crowd and I was amazed that another of my kids was messing up though it wasn't even on the same planet compared to her sister. After Biggest anything they come up with seems like an anticlimax to say the least.
The source of the trouble with mid? The boys she was dating. Now she was 15. She could have boyfriends her age but the environment had to be supervised. So what happened? Well the boys her age that she chose were the kind that think they are sneaky. The kind who have older people ( Moms, can you believe it) willing to drive and pick up young ladies that are sneaking out in the middle of the night. They didn't know they were dealing with an expert. So while Middlest spent most of sophomore year being grounded for grades and being stupid, I think with her it got old quick. Living on the street or hiding in flop houses doesn't sound as fun to un-ambitious young people. Then when she was almost16 she met a new boy. He seemed pretty nice. A decent enough kid.
Who was getting ready to turn 19 freakin years old. But you know what? I was getting a little tired. We said, ok. On a trial basis.
If he is willing to put up with your tight rules we will see what happens. Fourteen months later he is still around, though I did joke with her when he turned 20 last summer a few weeks before she turned 17 that he was now too old for her and they had to break up until her birthday. The verdict? He is very respectful of her. She has not been in trouble once. She is always home on time or earlier and there have not been any signs of being impaired. Her grades? Well that should be obvious but this year I stop grounding her for them. She is nearly an adult. If she doesn't keep up it is only herself and her future she is hurting. She is old enough to understand that.
Now I did recently find she was committing what I guess would be a mid-line infraction. I'm getting a little tired. I wrote a note that said,
"you have been busted, quit being a dumbass". The End.
She is almost grown up and that is about how much power I have over some of her choices.
Now, where was I going with this? Oh yeah,
Littlest goes to a school that takes up her weekday from 7 am to 4:30 pm. It is 45 minutes away and the kids come from all over our city. The result is that she has very little social life both because of time and also because most of her friends live miles away. There are some parents who are willing and able to spend Every weekend driving around all day for their kids social engagements but we are not among them. Special occasions, of course. Driving and hour both ways to play video games? Um, No. This has resulted in yes, allowing her to ride in cars with teen drivers on a few occasions. Including an hour long ride to visit a Con which also resulted in a slight extension of curfew because the drive was so long. Which made Middlest really mad but whatever.
Then there is dating. Now Lit has liked someone for a very long time but that is going nowhere. She hasn't had a "boyfriend" since about 7th grade which is when she grew out of the like somebody new every week stage of her friends. The problem with Lit is that she is one of those girls whose age is hard to determine. She is conservative with make-up and dresses well. Though she can be a complete goofball, when she first meets people her demeanor tends to be rather serious and mature for her age. She is a cute girl but she isn't the flirtatious type. This tends to make her seem older than she is. While boys her age seem intimidated by her she has had college age boys drawn towards her since she was around 13, simply because she does not act like she is trying to get their attention. There have been a few embarrassed young men who assumed she was closer to Middlest's age. Last summer, at a club she attends, Littlest met Spike.
Or a reasonable facsimile of.
Spike liked Littlest. And Littlest liked Spike.
What she didn't realize at first was that he was 18.
She was almost 15 but to me 18 or 800 it's all the same. That would be a NO.
But Littlest had already said she would go out with him. Um, what? You are not allowed to date a boy that old. Knowing teenage girls like the back of my hand I considered the possibility of her sneaking to meet. But this was Littlest. She is a different breed. Now considering what happened with Mid and the fact that forbidden makes the heart grow fonder I told her he was welcome to come to our house and visit with her any time. And that was it. He came a couple times. Then the poor kid starting asking her to go do stuff. She just kept putting him off. I watched for signs of sneaky. I got nothing. The fact was she wasn't ready for a relationship with someone that much older than herself and being an unusually astute girl she realized this herself. She wormed her way out of the situation. She said she got caught up in someone liking her and quickly realized it was a mistake. She wasn't comfortable with a boy that old. She caught her own mistake.
Now report cards were not so beautiful last time around but not a disaster so I let it go.
We just had progress reports though and for the first time Ever Littlest grades are lower than her sisters.
I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because she made it through 9th grade without causing any trouble and decided to relax a little. Maybe she was hoping for a featured post on my blog. She says it's just hard and she's tired. Yet she refuses to go to Middlest's high school which take off substantial pressure.
All I said was "You need to get these grades up." And that's all I'm going to say.
Because I'm tired.
But I'm resting up for report cards.
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