It Pays To Be Unconventional. Literally.
I feel like I’m a pretty kick ass mom. I mean, sure, I may curse (sometimes even in front of my kids, GASP!!) and I may forget about a science project that’s due the next day, in which I may or may not have allowed my child to be late to school to complete it (wink), but my two kids, ages twelve and fourteen, even being all too familiar with the word “no” still think I’m the best mom in the world…currently.
It really does pay to be unconventional.
We moved to a town in South Carolina in 2014 and didn’t know anyone. Three years later, my kids made friends but all of our family is still seven hours away. I had to think of some pretty unconventional ways to survive a house of boys…teenage boys.
My kids don’t want or need for much, but not because I cater to their every request. Seriously. I’m their mother, not their maid nor am I their ATM (and in the event that I do provide catering services to them, there is a fee but I’ll come back to that in a bit). I discovered early on, that explaining life to teenagers is comparable to explaining to a two year old why they can’t have McDonald’s when passing the golden arch. Words are just words. Sometimes seeing is believing, and that’s exactly what it took for my kids to finally get it, so I’m going to share a few of my unconventional secrets.
Secret #1: I’m pretty much an open book. I am able to be myself around my boys without fear (or care, rather) of being judged. Guess what. They can be themselves around me, too. If they feel like wearing some crazy outfit, I let them. I allow them to express themselves (even if they get roasted by their friends for wearing pink and gray fuzzy socks. But that never happened (😉)) If they stub their toe and let the “sh” word slip, I don’t freak out and shove soap down their throats. It’s not a regular habit so I don’t bring any more attention to it than what’s necessary. I’ve found it also allows them to be honest and comfortable when having serious conversations.
Secret #2: I do not allow my children to feel entitled. That’s right. Sometimes I say “no.” And I mean it. No regrets. It has taught my boys to value the word “yes,” and to appreciate and work toward the reward rather than feeling it’s owed to them. Not everybody in my house gets a trophy.
Secret #3: If they want the newest Jordans…or Lebrons…or shoe or accessory of the week, they have to pay the difference of my spending allowance. For example, I allow myself to spend $80 on my shoes. Therefore, I allow $80 on each of their pairs of shoes. If the pair of shoes they want cost $100, they have to pay the $20 difference out of their pocket. OH, and they want a cell phone (My kids stay home alone from time to time… wait.. why am I explaining myself?)? They have to pay the bill. I’ll give you a second to process that.
Secret #4: If you’ve read secret number two, you’re probably wondering one of two things – either how my children still think I’m the best mom in the world, or how it’s worked for so long. The answer is simple. They have jobs. Yep, a j.o.b., even at ages 12 and 14. Whaaat? THAT’S why I’m the best mom ever? That’s right. Making them work turned out to be a life changing decision, for all of us. They learned the value of a dollar bill and how hard they had to work to earn that dollar. Once they realized they could make money, they became more interested in saving theirs, and in turn, we were able to save ours. Win! On occasion, my son even treats me to lunch. Bonus! To date, they still have their lawn service.
Secret #5: Earlier in this post I mentioned a fee for catering services. Yes, I’m also that mom. If I have to provide a service because they were irresponsible, I charge a fee (actual photo below).
At the start of the school year last year, I set clear expectations. They were to set their alarm so that they didn’t miss the bus. On the first day of school, they did great! The second day, not so much. They missed the bus and I had to take them to school. Since they missed free transportation due to sleeping past their alarm, I charged each of them $2.00 for taxi services. Sorry not sorry. It taught them to wake themselves up in the mornings. Ya know, responsibility. (Pssst…I also charge them gas money to take them different places sometimes!)
At the end of the day, I have two hard working, respectful, appreciative kids that I’m going to continue pushing toward independence. Afterall, it’s our job as parents to raise these children into grown men and women.
While my unconventional parenting strategies have worked wonders for us, you may have your own tricks to the trade that’s worked for your family. If you’ve tried something that’s worked, please share, it takes a village!