Fun, Strict Parenting

Fun, Strict Parenting

Let me preface this with a few disclaimers, because I’m reeeeeally good with disclaimers, and when writing, you should always start with your strong point. My strongest points in life are self-deprecation and disclaimers. I know. I’m quite a catch.

Here we go…

I make parenting mistakes. Daily! Usually smaller ones, sometimes huge ones. I’m not the greatest parent ever. My kids are not the greatest kids ever. And don’t even get me started on our dogs.

Now that I’ve boosted your confidence in me, here are some of my thoughts on parenting.

My kids have a pretty fun life. Our house is full of humor. We’re goofy and dorky and ridiculous. I prank my kids. Often. We have dance parties. Sometimes at Target. My kids get dessert every single day. Occasionally this ends in me smearing cake all over their faces.

We celebrate half birthdays. We celebrate everything. We celebrate nothing. I’ve been known to throw my kids “We’re proud of you!” parties, just for fun. Not after a great report card or a perfectly cleaned room. For no reason at all. (Or actually, for the most important reason: because they’re thoughtful, compassionate human beings.) I’ve taken them out of school for a day because riding roller coasters is more important on a random Tuesday in March.
I don’t spank. Ever. Never have. Never will.

So are my kids brats? Hell no!

My kids have a pretty disciplined life. They have chores. The older two do their own laundry, they make most of their school lunches, they help with vacuuming and dusting, they’re in charge of cleaning their own bathroom. I’m a tyrant.

They don’t get paid for chores. They do chores because they’re part of the family and therefore part of a team that works together to make our home run smoothly. They don’t get an allowance either. Nothing. Not a single buck. Because I’m selfish. Or because I’m teaching them that in life you don’t get money just because you’re alive. Money is earned. If they want money, they do extra chores, which they are compensated for. Real life stuff. No babying them.

Whining? Not happening in my home. When they were younger, if one of them had a poor attitude, I made the offender step outside, shake off or spit out the bad attitude, and come back in when it was all left outside our house. There were times they were going back out every five minutes for an hour.

A few years ago, I started the “Yeah, but…” game with them. If someone complains, they’re free to express it, we talk about it, but then I say, ”Yeah, but…” and they have to follow their negative statement with something positive. It’s hard. Even for me. I hate it. But it’s important.

My children are not allowed to hurt each other, or anyone else, physically or emotionally. There are serious consequences for even the smallest insults. They don’t get away with crap. When I threaten something, I follow through. Even if it complicates my day, I follow through! They trust my word now. They know that when I say, “If you do this, such and such will happen,” then oh, such and such WILL happen, and they will hate such and such because I am really good at coming up with terrible such and suches.

So are my children perfectly behaved? Hell no!

Listen (and don’t mind me while I point out the obvious), I am no expert at parenting, and Lord knows I struggle through this incredible and exhausting job of being a mother every single day. Every day! No exaggeration. I do not have all the answers. I don’t always know what I’m doing. I’m constantly second guessing my rules and decisions. The feeling of guilt that I might be screwing up my children haunts me constantly. But after years and years of parenting, this is what I’ve discovered works for my family. Take or leave it, but here it is…

1. Find the right balance! The balance between fun and strict is the key. Balance is air. It is water. It is a gooey, warm chocolate brownie. It is something you should not live without.
I want to raise self-sufficient, intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate adults who I actually enjoy hanging out with. That takes strictness, no empty threats, and following through every. single. time. I also want to raise creative, spontaneous, life-loving adults with a great sense of humor. That takes fun, spontaneity, and letting your inner kid come out to play. Find the balance between strict and fun. It will make you like your children more. I promise.

2. Treat each child as an individual. Coming up with different consequences or rewards for each child is more work. It’s exhausting and brain numbing at times, but it’s important! Each of your children is different. They have their own unique personalities, strengths and weaknesses, pet-peeves, and passions. Quick, generic punishments or rewards are way easier than custom-made ones to fit each child, but hear me and hear me clearly: Do not use the “it’s difficult” excuse when it comes to doing the right thing for your child.

3. Talk to your children about everything. Everything. They’re asking you about blow jobs? Talk about it! I mean it. I don’t care if they’re 5! If they actually bring it up, now is the time to talk about it. If you think dismissing them will make them stop asking you, you’re right. They’ll stop asking you and start asking someone else!
Our kids will hear about “touchy subjects” whether we like it or not. Even if I decided to homeschool my kids, didn’t own a TV, and kept them locked up, they would still hear about sex and drugs and violence.
Do I want them learning about important life issues from an 8-year-old who learned it from a teenage sibling, or do I want them to learn it from me? As my friend Jo once told her young daughter, “If you have questions about sex, ask me! I have many more years of experience in that department than any of your friends do.”
Talk to your kids about everything. Let them ask questions. Don’t shut them down. Don’t answer them with, “We’ll talk about it when you’re older.” Are you kidding me? If they’re asking you, the time is now. Talk now! And don’t talk at them; talk with them.
I don’t just talk with my kids about everything, everything, everything, I role play the conversations that will come up in their life. When my kids were toddlers, I didn’t just tell them not to go with strangers, I set up a dozen different scenarios and role played with them so they could practice and get confident with their words and actions.
We role play all types of conversations in our home, from how they will ask a teacher for help with an assignment, to how they will step in if they see someone being bullied, to how they will handle a kid showing them porn or offering them a beer. Simply lecturing my kids is a waste of my time. I give them scenarios they can react to in order to practice. Don’t just give your kids your words to say, empower them to find their own words and solutions.

4. Parent! Joking around, throwing silly parties, having a blast with my children, and telling them a million times a day how much I adore them doesn’t mean I’m their friend. I’m not their friend. I don’t want to be their friend. We are not on the same level. I am the parent. I am in charge. I am the authority. My job is not to be liked by my kid, and I don’t take it personally when my kid dislikes me. If my kid likes me 100 percent of the time, I’m sucking at parenting!

.

That’s it. That’s all I got. Parenting is complicated and difficult. It’s supposed to be! I mean, we’re raising human beings who have brains and emotions. We’re raising children who could grow up to better the world with new inventions or better just one life with their thoughtfulness and compassion. Or they could grow up to live in your basement at age 40, playing video games all day, and scratching their asses. How you parent can play a huge role in which path your kids end up taking.

This is a huge, often overwhelming task we’ve taken on when we decided it would be so cute to have a baby. Parenting is hard work! It’s really, really hard. And if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong and your kids are brats.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my youngest who just pooped himself up to his neck, my middle who is about to play the “Yeah, but…” game for the third time in the past hour, and my oldest who is suspiciously perfect today.
I will never be the best at this crazy, beautiful job of mothering, but I brought those three monkeys into the world and I will work my butt off (and hopefully some of my thighs) not to screw them up… too much.

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(Click here to read more about the “Yeah, but….” game mentioned in this post, and here for the “4 Parenting Questions Answered” video.)

 

28 Responses to Fun, Strict Parenting

  1. natalie June 1, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    oh this is perfect, and it works in german too! thank you so much
    big hello from munich
    natalie

  2. Dee May 29, 2016 at 6:17 am #

    So what do you do when you have already screwed up? What do you do when every one hates every one and no one, especially me, is happy. I have come to a point where I feel so lost.

  3. Ca January 27, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Yes Kristina, all of this is great and I admire you….anything that makes the next generation better human beings. All for it.
    The talking to them about stuff at the time they mention it!! ? If they are well adjusted and are not suffering with emotional problems relating to bad experiences with their flesh n blood father, then yes but otherwise, it is very difficult. It must be great to have well adjusted kids that are not harmed from a home situation and I love your story on Facebook , you are very blessed to have such a wonderful step dad for your kids.

  4. Cynthia Ward October 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Love this! I was just shown Kristina’s videos over at my daughter’s house, she watches them while holding my brand new first grand baby, and I am SO glad she is connecting to this type of parenting humor (and that we screwed up so little that she lets us hold the baby.) that she has tapped into these videos tells me she is going to be just fine at this Mom thing. The Nutella references especially resonate, I always knew when she was in the kitchen, I’d hear the fridge door open, and the hiss of whipped cream being main lined straight from the aerosol can, cap back on, and sound of fridge door closing. It’s ok. Where do you think she learned it?

    This was also our world. Four kids, blended family, occasional “you’re not my real mom/dad you can’t tell me what to do” followed by, “nope but my name is on the title of the house you live in so you get to listen anyway.” Hard, hard life, worth every second, every sleepless night, every stretch mark, every repainted wall (and occasional ceiling, don’t ask) and there is lots we would do different but nothing we regret. That hard life was made possible by a man with the goofiest sense of humor that God chose to bless me with, and the kitchen often has looked like Kristina’s with foodie love mixed with old fashioned doofus and a generous portion of LOVE. Yes kids live without TV, although we occasioanally sat them down for those movies that have become a social reference without which we fail to communicate. Think, “I’m on a mission from God” without seeing Blues Brothers, or how often we reference iconic works like 2001 a space odyssey, (actually that little acid trip on film scarred them for life) see even screw ups can raise decent human beings. My family is proof. The trick is the ability to take the job seriously, but never take yourself seriously. Such a difference.

    New moms, hang in there. When you are dealing with a toddler meltdown in the grocery store, and the old woman in loud floral print tells you to “enjoy this time, before you know it they are grown” don’t hurt her, (it might be me) but it is true. Yes I know today feels like the never ending day and you are SO getting your man snipped and clipped because you are not producing any more of these screaming tyrants (until your bestie puts her newborn on the spot just below your collarbone and your ovaries go into NOW hyperdrive) but that crazy woman is right, you blink and I swear it is over and you are sitting in your daughters living room trying not to let her perfect house be a values statement on your own wrecked love shack, still covered in laundry despite now being an empty nest and no excuse. We have such a SHORT time to help these little humans find who they were created to be, as unique individuals who we pray will grow up to cure cancer, or at least cover a mortgage and the occasional floral arrangement made of fruit for Mother’s Day. Your odds for raising someone who does not grow up to take over a small nation in a dictatorship (which I guess would be semi-ok if there is a Queen Mother’s palace) improve dramatically when they are raised with humor and compassion. It is hard to take over a small nation in a dictatorship while wearing a Steve Martin style arrow through the head type headband.

    Thank you for bringing such humor and FUN to parenting today. I will be binge watching back copies of Kristina’s videos all day (it’s not like the laundry is going anywhere on its own, at least not yet) I am SO glad my daughter is drawn to your videos, maybe it means she wasn’t so horrified by her bizarre parents and we might see a few water fights during dishes duty in HER kitchen someday. I call dibs on the sink sprayer. Kristina Kuzmic, you rock.

  5. Suada September 17, 2015 at 4:18 am #

    Really well put. I love your humor along with being real and up front with everything. By far, my favorite read. I always knew what kind of parent I wanted to be,but this article gives me extra tools. Thank you!!

  6. Deanna August 28, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    As a fifth grade teacher, this article was like a breath of fresh air. Maybe if more parents parented this way, I could focus more on my job than picking up the slack on theirs.

  7. Irina July 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Kristina, well said and well done! Loved this post. I share every sentiment and every piece of advice you’ve brought up in this post. Parent on!

  8. Lisa July 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    I have to say, some days I feel like I’m doing EVERYTHING wrong. Not just somethings, absolutely ALL of it. Then other days I feel as though I’m a BOSS at what I do as a mom. In hindsight, the days I feel like I’m failing were actually they days I did some pretty amazing things, and the days I thought I was killing it… Turned out to be not so great after all. Thank you for posting this article. I think you’re doing an amazing job at being a mother, and your sense of humor proves it, because let’s face it…. You really need to learn to laugh at yourself (and your kids) in order to keep your sanity.

  9. JA Gulseth July 23, 2015 at 2:58 am #

    I appreciate the honesty in your post. My wife and I will have to take some of these to heart. Especially the “Yeah, but…” game

  10. Rob Jones July 13, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    Wow my mind is totally blown! What a refreshing and eye opening account of the reality of raising and and being able to be available to our important assets in our lives.

  11. Dana2 July 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Well, this got to me about 23 years too late! lol
    Too late for me, but not too late to share with my own kids for their kids (when they have them).
    Excellent article, excellent advice!
    Bless you – you have a beautiful family.

  12. Izolda July 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    One of the best parenting articles I have read in a ling time! And i read a lot of parenting articles.

  13. Brandy July 1, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    You have an amazing sense of humor and a great outlook on parenting. The truth is ugly, but it is what it is. And thank you for raising human beings the rest of the world will have to deal with when you’re done with them, more parents should do that! From the sounds of it, your sucking at being a mom perfectly!

  14. Rebecca Delgado July 1, 2015 at 5:39 am #

    This is great! We love to have dance parties. And I couldn’t agree more on answering the questions. We answer everything, we also use the right words for body parts; elbow, penis, foot… LOL

  15. Sarah June 30, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    Thank you. 🙂

  16. Emma June 30, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. This is exactly the type of mum I want to be when we have chilren. Exhausting yet the most rewarding. I know this is how I was brought up and I have the best relationship with my parents now. Dicipline and fun! Parents are parents. Children are children. Love this article. Thank you!

  17. Kristy Kemp (BFMT) June 30, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    I love this!! I love how you have a detailed article that actually makes some sense. People assume that no spanking households means no discipline and children who get away with everything. I shared to Breastfeeding Mama Talk. You are awesome. You are motivational , inspirational, and empowering everything that I’m about which is probably why I’m drawn to you.

  18. Tessa Romero June 30, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    I love this parenting article! I mean, you nail EVERYTHING right on the head! My husband and I don’t have children yet, but I know the kind of mother I want to be! Thank you so much for being an inspiring woman with a great sense of humor!

    • Cornelia Becker Seigneur September 13, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      Tessa- I just wanted to reach out and say, awesome that you know the kind of mother you want to be even before having kids! Bravo! I have five kids and my youngest is 12 so been doing this a while. You are a million steps ahead of many just because you have decided what kind of parent you want to be. Love, celebrate, be their parent. Great article indeed..

  19. Heather Murphy June 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Beautifully put. I totally agree on all of your points. Now I have gotta live it. I did take my kids out of school for a snow day last Winter. 🙂

    • Kaiden February 9, 2016 at 12:29 am #

      Noithng I could say would give you undue credit for this story.

  20. Annette June 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    So refreshing! Amen!

    Currently pregnant with twin boys and I am so on the same page.

    Loved every bit of this read. I don’t know how successful I’ll be but I’m not aiming for perfection just well behaved respectful children.

    Thanks for putting it all out there and reminding us to parent our children bc ultimately we will be responsible for how they handle their tomorrow’s.
    You’re amazing!

    • Mina February 8, 2016 at 11:54 pm #

      This is what we need – an insight to make evyerone think

  21. Dana June 27, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    p.s. you’re kids are gorgeous and sound like awesome adults in the making!

  22. Dana June 27, 2015 at 3:06 am #

    I’m not a parent yet, but I love this philosophy and hope to incorporate this into my future as a mother! I already have an awesome partner for the job…just not there yet haha. I just hope everyday I can take a tiny steps to do this, whew!

  23. megan June 26, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    i love the list! I completely agree with you on those 4 things. finally, a refreshing parenting article.

    • Leeta Setters February 5, 2016 at 3:49 am #

      You must of had great parents yourself. I hope you are very Thankful lady. Most of us were raised by parents in the depression times and most of the subjects you have openly talked to your children about, was a BIG FAT NO NO…HOWEVER, I like you swam up stream and talked opening to my sons. They unfortunately did not do so well. But I continue to love and most of all after a time—I let them go and gave them to GOD totally. Eventually, they have made it back into our lives. But, I am not in CONTROL anymore. They still make mistakes and I keep my mouth SHUT. I can love them without making a seen. We can talk nicely now. For the FRIST time in 27 years my oldest Son called me Mother 2 days ago. I almost broke out in tears. God has mended not only them but he did a over hall job on ME. I sure needed it!!!!

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