Why I'm Teaching My Son To (Sometimes) Break The Rules

by A. Rochaun
Originally Published: 

As I write this, I’m with my son watching tv. Normal, right? Well, except that it’s more than two hours past his bedtime and he just grabbed his fourth cookie though he was only supposed to have two.

I really wanted to be mad at myself. But you know what?! Eff the mom guilt. If I wanna stay awake eating cookies and watching tv with my son, I’ll do it. Maybe it’s not something to do regularly, but is once a week really that bad?

I mean, sometimes it’s okay to break the rules.

Before having kids, I imagined I would run my home with an iron fist. As a hypothetical mother, I had a million images of what my offspring would never do. They would always listen and never talk back, and of course, they would be little geniuses. I thought I could customize my motherhood experience and get a non-negotiable (or at least refund backed) package.

Well, my son proved me very wrong and it turns out my return window has elapsed.

The good news is, I got part of it right. My son is pretty darn smart, if I do say so myself. The bad news is I had no idea giving birth to such an smart kid would mean a host of challenges for me as a parent. In other words, he’s already talking back and not listening and he’s not even three years old.

I’m pretty sure it’s just going to go downhill from here.

The last three years of motherhood have taught me a very important lesson. Turns out, sometimes it’s okay let go of your expectations and break the rules. Truth is, I break the rules often — and let my son do the same. Here’s why:

Discipline is important, but flexibility is a virtue.

Every day, it becomes increasingly clear that life can completely change within a moment’s notice. I am an individual who thrives on change and isn’t particularly fond of monotony. I want my son to have similar skills. I feel like a large percentage of parents prepare their children for a world filled with discipline, but not a world that requires flexibility.

I’m not saying that we should head out and burn all the schedules planners and agendas. But children need to be able to function without someone else’s directions. A flexible child is a creative child. And a creative child is more likely to be self-sufficient.

What’s legal isn’t always moral.

I hate to be that person, but rules and laws are not necessarily based on morality or what’s right. They are more likely to be a product of tradition. Many national tragedies (cough, slavery, cough) happened within the confines of the “rules.” Bottom line: following the rules doesn’t always equal doing what’s right.

My goal is to raise children who have the critical thinking skills to determine when a rule brings no enrichment to our lives. That doesn’t mean every house rule is going to be up for debate, but it does mean that my kids will have to think critically about the regulations they experience on a daily basis.

I want them to be autonomous individuals.

Along the same lines, I want my children to grow up knowing that they were given free will. Call me what you will, but I don’t want my children to do things simply because someone else instructed them to do so. I want to raise children who do the right thing because their moral compass guided them towards the right thing.

At the same time, I believe the development of that moral compass and the understanding of their free will might mean there will be times they break the rules and frustrate me. Yeah, it’ll be annoying. But it will also be a necessary learning moment. I want kids, not robots.

You can’t always preplan life.

There are some moments that aren’t worth missing no matter what you had on the schedule. It’s as simple as that.

There are going to be plenty of moments in life that you can’t pre-plan. And because those moments can’t be pre-planned, deviation from those plans aren’t harmful. Sometimes this deviation looks like altering a bedtime. Other times it looks more like missing a day of school for a family trip. Life is made valuable by a mixture of the planned and the unplanned experiences.

It all comes down to this: parenting is challenging enough without trying to adapt to a bunch of ridiculous rules. I want to have the freedom and the ability to enjoy my experience as a parent. Who knows how much time I have on this Earth. I think we should all stop thinking about rules and make every second count.

There’s nothing wrong with being flexible and rolling with the punches. The lack of resistance might even make for a better life experience.

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