Living as a team.
So, the twins are just about to turn ten and my youngest, Aurora, is nine (going on seventeen.) We, the four of us, are together basically twenty four seven. I stay at home and homeschool the three of them through Florida’s virtual school program. My husband and I had a little bit of a head start on parenting because of the foster boys that we took in when we were younger. They were all older boys, so the experience didn’t apply directly when we were raising toddlers, but we definitely picked up some knowledge that we have been able to use as our own kids grow.
One of the most valuable things that I learned while caring for my foster boys was the fact that the only way to handle all of them at once was to discipline them as a team. If I didn’t do that on a daily basis, I have no idea how I would manage my life today. I know that to some people this concept will seem unfair, but I’ll do my best to try and explain why it works so well for us.
What’s one of the things that Mom’s are always saying? “Who did this, right?” Who made this mess, spilled this milk, left this light on, etcetera. And the hardest thing to do is get an actual admission of guilt out of one of your children. They will pass the buck back and fourth for hours if you let them, if they are even listening to you in the first place. The way that I handle it, unless I get an immediate “I did it.” (It does happen occasionally), is to immediately punish everyone until one of them gives in and fesses up. If they are watching TV, I turn it off, same with video games. If they are swimming everyone has to get out of the pool. If I have to I can threaten taking away dessert, or send them all to their rooms. It is super fast and effective. These guys whip into shape. They know the drill.
In our homeschool program, the parents who present the lessons at home are called learning coaches, not teachers. I love that term because it applies to my position so well. I am a coach; coach Mom. I am coaching my little team to be better players at life. To work harder, have more fun, and be better sportsmen in general. I think about what it is that qualifies all of the coaches out there who lead teams of sports players. Well, they have played the game. So basically, if you have grown through childhood and you are still alive, you are qualified to coach a kid through life. You did it. You’ve been there. If you had a good childhood or a bad one, it doesn’t make any difference. If your parents made crappy mistakes, do the opposite of what they did. You had to live through it, maybe it taught you something.
The team approach teaches my kids to tattle. They do it because there is a potential that the whole team will get punished. Great! They are going to be teenagers in the blink of an eye and I want to know, I have a responsibility to know, every single thing that is going on in their lives. I’m not picky about how I get that information. I have already informed my children that they have no privacy. I am not disrespectful, and I don’t spy on them every moment, but they are well informed that if I have any concerns about them, there is no diary I won’t read, no drawer I won’t go through. Their room is my room. They don’t pay rent.
The most valuable part of our team dynamic is that it teaches my kids to support each other. They are learning that if one part of the team is struggling, the team is affected as a whole. Just like society. If we work automatically to help lift each other up, then we succeed regularly as a unit. It’s simple, easy, and if my kiddos reach adulthood with this concept embedded in their minds I will be jumping for joy, seriously. The knowledge that my children have the potential to develop all of their adult relationships with the intention of lifting others up is heartwarming. They can be set up for long-term happiness. They can change the world. Go team.