Friday, October 07, 2011

Parenting Quandary

Luna the rat is dead. Cause of death: starvation/dehydration. Isn't that awful? It's awful. We didn't feed her. More accurately, the kids didn't feed her and no one reminded them to feed her.

The dream around these parts is that at some point my kids won't need constant reminders (nagging) to do responsible things. Does that just magically happen at some point? Our oldest is showing signs of turning that corner. He wakes up on his own in the dark, cold basement and starts getting ready for school while I yet slumber. That's a biggie.

But by and large, if I don't remind/ask/nag/tell, bad things happen: kids go to school with bad breath, school reports get turned in late if at all, Grandma's piano teaching efforts are in vain, rats die.

Steve is firmly in the low intervention parenting camp that advocates Lighten Up What's the Worst That Can Happen So They Spent Three Hours on the Computer Big Deal. He does step in to assist with homework because he knows it's important to me and I drown in it otherwise, but he does not begin to know what the assignments are without coaching.

What's the magic balance of letting children suffer the natural consequences of their actions or inactions? As a parent, do I insist they brush their teeth, or do I allow them to be utterly shunned by everyone with whom they come in contact until they learn life's lessons the hard way?