I Don’t Like Rules! A Libertarian Perspective On Parenting

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I don't like rules

I don’t like rules, I want to break them!

I don’t like rules, I want to break them!

When I say break, you say Rules!

Break  – rules!

Break – rules!

That’s a chant my daughter made up a few months ago. Oddly, it’s not mayhem here, we do have rules. This chant was made up after an incident in the car rider line at the school they attend part-time. 

You MUST have an issued blue paper with the child’s name and classroom name. 

One day I didn’t have it. I’m pretty sure it was played with and carried off somewhere. 

I know the car rider lady quite well. We talk about my kids and how they’re doing.  Also, I drive a lifted jeep. The back seat windows open like a Delorian’s door. My kids crawl out of the windows like The Dukes of Hazard. We don’t blend in. The school knows me and my kids.

Well, that day, it was like they didn’t know me because I didn’t have the blue paper. Now, this blue paper isn’t fucking notarized by the Governor with a gold seal. If I wanted, I could easily go to Walmart and get the same blue paper and use the same shitty comic sans font. I had to park and enter the building so they could issue another sacred blue paper.

It wasn’t that I had to get out of the car. I get it, they want to cover their ass. But my issue is, they are so into protocol that they don’t know how to think critically. Like I mentioned above, this paper is easily forged. So, if a person wanted to, they could easily pass under the radar.

I tell that story because my kids wondered why I was picking them up from their classroom and not in the car rider line. I briefly explained the incident to them and after that, well, that’s when Amelia made up her chant. 

We don’t have a long list of rules. I don’t MAKE them do anything (within reason, of course), but I do explain why we do things. And I highly encourage it because of the consequences-

For example- brushing teeth. They do it cause I showed them images of people who didn’t take care of their teeth.

Another example- picking up their toys. They do it because they know I will give the toys away if they don’t take care of their stuff (sounds cruel when I write it…ouch) 

One more – watching TV. I hate TV, so when I feel like they’ve watched too much, I begin to play with the play-doh and tinker tray.  Or I start on an art project.  They always join me.  Then when I have them engaged, I turn the TV to the music channel. 

It’s not mayhem in our house. We have two main rules- don’t hurt each other and don’t take their stuff.  If this happens (and it does…a lot) they work to solve the problem on their own.  I don’t prescribe to the Appeal to Authority model of discipline. My goal for them is to be able to produce their own way to handle their issues. And it does work.  When we go to the park, they witness many children running to the adults over silly infractions. They say hanging out with kids like that are exhausting and annoying.     

Now, when they come to me to solve their issue, I give suggestions on how to solve it with each other. And I’m done. I walk away or I tell them to go try what I suggested.  If it’s a big issue like constant hitting, name calling or lying, I will use a book to help illustrate the issue and encourage discussion. There is constant talk about how to deal with negative behavior. It’s not a one-time then lesson learned type of child rearing. 

And I do this for the positive. I (authority) don’t praise when doing good. When I see my kids get along or share, I don’t praise them for it. I later ask them how they felt when they played together so well. Or how they felt when one gave the other a toy they wanted. I often get a ‘you’re weird, mom’ look. But sometimes I get a truly heart felt response about how it made them feel good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely void of praise. I do thank them when they help me with a task that is not expected of them.           

This is my little anarchy/libertarian family life. We’re not perfect. I do lose my shit and go totally against my core values, but always reel it back in and trudge on. 

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