Friday, November 21, 2008

Beatles Fan (God, I'm such a dork) and parenting style

Yeah I know the title to this post just doesn't work but give me a minute to explain in my 3 glasses of wine way.

I'll admit it. I'm old (49 last September)

I must be because I am a huge Beatles fan. In fact, I've been a fan since 1970. Yes, I know that the Beatles broke up 1970 that but that hasn't stopped me.

Back when I was in school; you were either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fans. Never the twain shall meet. My brother was the Rolling Stones fan. Maybe that was why I went with the Beatles. (Probably not.) My brother and I didn't really get along. Okay, that is putting it mildly. I'm just not willing to put into words my brother and my relationship. Let's just say that I have a low tolerance for bullshit (not my words, but a co-workers. I think of that as a compliment.) My brother has bullshit down to an art form. Me, not so much.

Anywhoo, I love everything Beatles. When John Lennon died I was heartbroken and decried the sentence that Mark Chapman received. When George died I cried. He represented what I thought was good in the world. Tolerance, love, and acceptance. (God, I'm such a hippy) Really, I felt awful. When Linda McCartney passed away (though not part of the Beatles, she was an inspirational figure) I was disconsolate.

I meditate, practice yoga, decorated my office using Feng Shui principles, and try to achieve a Zen attitude. (Yep! That's me! An aging hippy.)

Maybe this whole obsession has to do with the fact that I was born 10 years to late (my mother's words, not mine). I would have made a great hippy. I would have fit right into any commune you could have conceived. I still would. My clothing/work/relationship choices verify this point. Ask my kids. Ask JR. They'll tell you that I'm the weirdest mother/wife around.

This whole hippy mentality transferred onto my parenting style. My girlfriends at the time were baffled. They wondered where I was coming from. It was the 198os for God sakes! It was the me generation. We were supposed to be our kid's friends. I wasn't my kid's friend.

I raised the boys with the notion that they needed to learn to make their own decisions. From the time that they were about a year old everything was a choice. When they were little it was this or that. As they got older it was this, that or the other thing. When they got even older it was this, that, the other thing, or whatnot. There was always consequences and rewards. It was all very spelled out. They never had to guess about what I expected and the rules never changed.

JR, God bless him, never second guessed what I was doing. He pretty much went by his dad's theory of child rearing. Let The Mom Do Everything. This worked for me and obviously for him. I could inflict my hippy ideas on the boys with impunity. I like impunity. It feels good (for me anyway. And really that is all that matters. Right?)

I have to tell you. Though I have strange ideas about what kids should be allowed to do (yes, I let my youngest ride his wagon, standing up, down our hill in an effort to make him understand that it was not appropriate. Much to my BFF's chagrin. She was absolutely appalled that I would let him do this). I felt that the boys needed to decide what they thought was scary and what was not. To them. Their ideas. Their thoughts. Their feelings. Only safety items were disallowed.

Running into the street with moving cars?
Not Allowed.

Digging a hole in the field that a Volkswagen could be dropped into?

Drinking paint?
Not Allowed.

Painting your room a strange color?

Chasing the ducks?
Allowed (as long as they don't stop laying. If they do? Mom's pissed)

Putting the ducks in your brother's room because he's pissed you off?
Not Allowed.

Convincing your friend to jump off the roof?
Allowed (as long as your friend is agreeable)

Pushing your friend off the roof?
Not Allowed.

Riding your Big Wheel down the driveway and running it into the gate?

Riding your Big Wheel down the driveway into the street?
Not Allowed

Do you see where I'm going here. The boys and their friends could choose to do these things, good or bad but they knew that prompt punishment or praise was sure to follow. It was all about choices and feelings. If you felt you had to do something that I felt you shouldn't you had better be able to explain it to me.
Present a good case and you may get off.
Tell the truth and the punishment wouldn't be as bad.
Lie to me. Life got really ugly really fast.

Whether this had to do with my hippy ideals is debatable but during the 1980s and 1990s this was unheard of. Parents were conflicted. They wanted to be their kid's friends. Me, not so much.

It was not my job to be their friend. It was my job to:
a. love them and make sure they knew it.
b. keep them safe.
c. teach them to be thinking and responsible adults.

JR and I must have done okay. Both boys seem to be independent, thinking, responsible and reasonable adults. And, they like us. So I guess it's okay to be a hippy. Even though your friends still think you are weird.



  1. If raising children that way means you're a hippy then I guess I am one too.

    I am probably a bit more cautious about what risky activities I will allow them to try, but that is purely selfishness because I don't like the idea of sitting in the ER for 8 hours with 6 children in tow (one of whom probably needs stitches or a bone set!)

    However, if they decide to do something like not put their bike away (and it gets stolen) or not hand in their homework (and they get a poor grade), I am all for letting them have to live with the consequences.

  2. I think that's fair. My parents were a little more careful with me, but I knew the line, and when I crossed it, I knew what would happen. I pick being a parent over being a friend everyday. My parents raised me to love and respect them as parental figures. Now that I'm grown they treat me as an adult, but the love and respect I have for them has not faded.

  3. I. Love. The Beatles. And, I totally agree with your parenting choices. My wife and I aren't hippies (although, I could be, heh), but we have the same mind-set about raising our girls. Great post!

  4. I love your parenting style. You set your rules and boundaries and let them experiment within those boundaries. Very cool. I was born into the wrong generation way too late also. I was born in 77 and grew up in the 80's and 90's listening to The Beatles, Jackson Brown, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller Band. I didn't care for that crap music my generation put out.

  5. Sign me up for the hippy life!
    One caveat though. If your friend asks you to push him off the roof, is THAT allowed?

  6. Great post. Your parenting style is impressive and I wish mine could be more like it.

  7. I've come back to say I've tagged you for one of those strange bloggy ritual thingies i.e. there is an award 'with attachments' for you at my blog.

  8. I'm a Monkees fan. They were a HUGE influence on the Beatles, right?

  9. I have gone Fen Shui, but the family thinks I'm nuts! How does your family respond? Do you plug the drains to avoid losing energy, too/

  10. Egads. I'm a Rolling Stones fan, can we still be friends? My hubs is a Beatles fan...he still likes me okay even when I strut around like Mick Jagger. Maybe you can still love me just a little bit too. :)

    I do love your parenting style.

  11. I wouldn't recommend its use in international relations or anything, but I still content the duck incident was preferable to violence.

  12. Mum-me: Welcome to the crowd.

    DeeMarie: I like being my kid's friend now.

    Goodfather: Welcome over to the dark side.

    Casey: I love all your music choices. The 80's and 90's did suck.

    Jen: I'm glad I never had to make a decision on that one. I think it would have to do with the injuries involved.

    Sher: It's all good. It's all about finding your own balance.

    Jen: It was all about Davy Though Micky was cute too.

    Beth: Crystals in the windows, check!

    Mary Anne: Some of my best friends are Stones fans. I still love you lots.

    Ben: We'll need to agree to disagree on this one. I should have punished you more if you still think it was a good idea.