Photo by: Kate Gardiner

Rules of Change: Parenting 4 Children

by Liz of "This Full House"
Photo by: Kate Gardiner

My youngest daughter is 8 years-old and– seeing as she is the 4th and probably my last child – I often refer to Hope as “Mommy’s little ticket into heaven”.

“F-this man, I’m outta here!”

I heard the f-bomb being thrown around the playroom and was sort of relieved to find the insults were coming from the television and, you know, not my kid. I turned the television off and asked her to finish getting ready for school. I then went back to swap out the laundry (because, I apparently purchased bottomless hampers) and I came to the conclusion that there should be a new rating of “F” for movies with actors whose only motivation is how many times can you drop the f-bomb before someone has to turn the lights out, or go home?

“You’re too young to watch that movie.”

Too late, the words were already out of my mouth and I realized that Harry Potter was rated PG-13, but I don’t ever remember the f-bomb being dropped in any one of his movies; not yet, anyway.

“But, you let the other kids watch it!”

As my kids get older, I’m beginning to understand how the, “children should be seen and not heard” rule my parents had, you know, wasn’t such a bad idea, really.

“Yes, but it’s really fresh.”

Honestly, I know that phrases like, “fart face” and “penis breath” are pretty much the norm in most 13-year old’s vocabulary. Still, it’s not the sort of language I want to hear at the dinner table– especially, when their grandparents are over for a visit– I don’t care how old you are.

Besides, it was family movie night and my oldest daughters are turning 16 and 14 this year, my son is turning 11, which these days is, like, the new 18, really.

“But, you let me watch it once before!”

Actually, I did. Although, we only saw bits and pieces, as I seem to recall changing the channel, a lot.

“When you’re 18, then you can make the rules!”

Yes, I actually said that…wait, no…I hollered, pretty loud. Honestly, after 15 years of raising kids and killer dust bunnies, I just don’t speak to my children, as much as I used to, anymore.

“You’ve just lost your television privileges!”

In fact, I find myself yelling at them, more often than not, or dolling out punishments like last year’s Halloween candy.

“I’m sorry.”

Then, the kid lowers her chin to her chest, the tears begin to flow and, well, I have also mastered the art of back-pedaling.

“I know it’s really hard being the littlest, all the time.”

At least, that’s what my youngest child keeps telling me.

“But, being a grown up isn’t easy, either.”

Sounds good, on paper, I know, but I am also beginning to think that– with my oldest only 2 years shy of being considered an adult, herself– 18 isn’t quite as grown up as I once thought. Although, Holly is the conservative one of the bunch; which, of course, probably comes from my not allowing my first born to climb the monkey bars, or run, higher and faster than any of her siblings can.

Then, there’s my middle girl– Heather, was the first kid allowed to wear a black skull cap in her 3rd grade Girl Scout troop. Now in the 8th grade and nearly completing her 1st year of being a teenager, she has blossomed into quite the little nonconformist and still has trouble with accepting the pack mentality of middle school. I dread to imagine what my husband and I are in for, once she also starts high school, next year.

The boy, well, he’s a boy and there’s a whole new set of rules for raising them, anyway, so it’s like I’m starting all over again; isn’t it?

One day, real soon, they will all start driving, which, of course, means having to come up with yet another bunch of new rules. Either way, my husband and I have lost hope in gaining any chance of getting a good night’s sleep, ever again.

“You will still have to follow rules at work, in college and here at home, too.”

If you were to ask me, right now, what those rules will be, I’m sorry, but I really couldn’t tell you. Suffice it to say, raising 4 children, each one at a different stage in his, or her life, perhaps it is best to just take it, one kid at a time.

“Like, when the girls don’t do their laundry, will you put them in jail?”

No, but don’t think I haven’t thought about it.

“Allowing piles of dirty laundry to build up isn’t against the law, at the moment.”

Thank goodness, since I would probably be spending the next 18 years, locked up somewhere, doing someone else’s kid’s laundry and that would be bad.

The End.

Liz is a stay-at-home mom (an oxymoron, really, since she is found in her minivan running errands more than she’s at home) and enjoys writing about the trials and tribulations of raising 4 children, a sock-eating lab and killer dust bunnies at This Full House

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Oh the joys! My little one is so much younger than the teenagers that we've all forgotten what the rules were, thank goodness!

Expat Mum: Ayup, the rules...they are a changing...good luck to you, too!

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