Tuesday, October 2, 2012
31 Days of Repetitive Parenting: Day 2 "Don't Do Stupid Things."
Hubby first brought this phrase to my attention well before we had kids (no not for me, although I'm sure he bit his lip from instructing me so on more than one occasion.) It was his go-to rule for the teenagers that we worked with at the time. We have continued to use this as a main rule on retreats, activities, road trips, events, and missions trips during the past two decades that we have been involved in youth ministry. Any of our regulars would be familiar enough with the mantra, that eventually we'd just ask, "What's the rule?", to which we'd hear a chorus of, "Don't - Do - Stupid - Things."
As we had kids of our own, we realized that this rule applied in parenting as well. Mind you, we held it in reserve until the kids were older and they had a better understanding of what is or is not a stupid thing to do. (I can hope, can't I?!) Also, we have tried to avoid using the word stupid in our household in reference to other people (does get thrown at the cats quite often!) or differing ideas. For awhile, they even thought it was the official "S" word! It has also been banned on several occasions, when our teens began to use it more frequently and we felt that they could use more creative words to express their frustrations. Not to mention the fact that Cupcake had picked it up - just not the first words I wanted to hear from my tot!
Let's analyze this particular phrase, shall we? Don't do stupid things. Please note the shocking lack of an exclamation point at the end of the sentence. It is not meant to be yelled or exaggerated by any means, but rather to be communicated calmly, matter-of-factly and, dare I say, jovially. The point is not to limit their fun in any way, but to give them a gentle reminder to think before they act. Studies have shown that the part of the brain that handles risk assessment is not fully developed until age 25, so we must not let the rolling eyes of the proverbial teenager squash our gentle reminder to them to be careful.
It is our job as parents to teach and guide our kids in making good decisions and this quote allows us to quickly remind them as they pile in the van for the next church retreat to be mindful of all that they have learned. Usually, it is also met with a smile and a, "Thanks, I will, Mom!" I found that it's a much better way of bidding our kids good-bye, instead of a laundry list of rules and expectations. Within that one statement we have conveyed years of parenting lessons, lots of love and given them permission to make their own decisions while having fun.
A phrase definitely worth repeating!
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