When was the last time you told other parents what your guidelines are for your child when he or she is away from home? Have you informed others of what you do and do not allow your kids to watch, listen to and play? If you are like most of us, probably not. So enjoy this handy guide to making your wishes regarding your child’s influences known - in a funky Tolkien kind of way!
Parents, grandparents and childcare-givers, this column is written for you. As kids enjoy summer sleepovers, extended play-dates and just “hanging out,” take a moment to ask yourself: When was the last time you told other parents what your guidelines are for your child when he or she is away from home? Have you informed others of what you do and do not allow your kids to watch, listen to and play? If you are like most of us, probably not. So enjoy this handy guide to making your wishes regarding your child’s influences known -- in a funky Tolkien kind of way! If this works, we parents will be strutting around using these acronyms – and feeling guilt-free about making requests – to ensure that our kids stay protected away from home. And we’ll sound pretty cool, too!
You know the drill. A parent that you are friendly with (i.e. one that you have stood on the sidelines with at soccer, grinned good-naturedly at during open house, or e-mailed the classroom list to) has pulled up in the driveway to pick up little Johnny for a sleepover, complete with pizza and movies and video games. You come out to their car to say hello, and in the back of your mind a little someone wearing a tiny halo is saying, “Ask what video games they’ll be playing – they don’t play ‘Full Metal Jacket’ or ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ right? What movie will they be watching? Wait, they have a teenager in the house … are the little kids going to be in another room? Ask them, go on now; check it out!”
Well, usually we say nothing. And with all the ways we communicate – e-mail, cell phone, house phone, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and so on, we rarely, if ever, make our preferences known about our children’s influences – these children that we would do anything for. We’ll share a YouTube video or send along a fictional, meaningless forward before we’ll reach out to proactively parent, using all the tools we have at our fingertips. So try these handy acronyms listed below - that sound as if they’re right out of “Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter” - to guide you in communicating your wishes about what your child is influenced by when you aren’t there.
For example, are you an ILDOH? This stands for “It’s Like Disney Over Here,” meaning at your home, your kid’s influences are very innocent. You prefer G movies, sports video games and do not listen to rap music or songs with provocative lyrics. It’s the rule; no discussion about it. You would fit in well living at the Magic Kingdom. Say it one time: “Hey, thanks for having Johnny over! By the way … we’re ILDOHs!” You have stated your wishes … and you sound like a cool half-unicorn creature or something. The kids will dig being ILDOHs.
Perhaps you are an AMGUL. An AMGUL is a step down from an ILDOH – AMGUL stands for “All Media Goes Under the Lens.” You may allow more than an ILDOH – but you do review everything, and make active choices in your child’s influences. If you have their child, an AMGUL wants to be consulted before the movie is watched or the CD is played. An AMGUL frequently says “yes” to the PG or PG-13 movie, and may allow certain video games, but the AMGUL wants to be in the loop.
Finally, you just may be an IWOUD. This stands for “I’m Watching Oprah – You Decide.” This parent is leaving it up to you, and can live with your choices. This parent either trusts you very much, or really is watching Oprah, and doesn’t want to be interrupted. (No judgment here if you’re an IWOUD; and for the record I’m an “Ellen” fan myself.) IWOUDs wave happily as you pull away with their child, and then go take a nap or sit down and log in a Tweet.
A few notes on this system: firstly, most parents are AMGULs. Secondly, if you are an ILDOH, offer to have the kids at your house instead; you may run across a parent or two that does not want to change their ways just because you are an ILDOH. This is their right, just as it is always your right to protect your kids when they are not with you. I think you will find that almost all parents appreciate your input and may even be relieved to have someone tell them the family guidelines. They may be wishing for a way to develop and or share guidelines of their own, and you may offer them that opportunity by starting the conversation.
So get your Narnia on and send this to your friends, and start talking about this stuff. Your kids will benefit from your input into what enters their ears, minds and hearts, and you’ll sleep better at night and have better, more substantive communication with other parents. Remember: no apologies – you’re a parent and this is part of the gig. Now get out there all you acronyms-in-waiting, and start mixing it up!
You can connect with Deirdre at www.exhaustedrapunzel.com.