While it is important to maintain consistency in the application of rules and the distribution of privileges to siblings, there may be different privileges that will be given to the older children as they become big enough, smart enough, or mature enough to handle the greater responsibility that comes with the new privileges without harm to themselves or others.  But this is part of growing up and part of the training process that parents put children through, preparing them for the adult world, step-by-step rather than simply shoving them out of the nest at a certain age expecting them to fly or die.  Moreover, each child should get the same privileges when they meet that gateway or threshold so that they know there is an established and consistent rule.  Believe me, they will be keeping up with this and will recognize any inconsistency.  If there is a change in family conditions, change in family capabilities with increased financial or other resources, or even a change in philosophy as you have grown in wisdom and now see things differently, necessitating a change in the rules applied to the children, such changes can be handled with relative ease if you can give a rational explanation of why the rules changed and an explanation of why the changed rule still fits with your foundational principles. 

But if you are only dealing with changes in privileges for the child who is growing older, for each time that they meet a new gateway or threshold and gain a significant new privilege, there should be a conversation about why you are giving them more latitude.  You should explain that you have seen them handle other smaller responsibilities such as chores around the house consistently such that you know you can trust them to handle this added privilege or increased responsibility now.  Additionally, there certainly should be age-appropriate privileges that are withheld from smaller children which are gradually given to older children such as the type of movies they can watch or being allowed to stay up later and eventually managing their own bed times so long as their sleep is adequate to keep them alert enough during the day for their schooling, jobs, and other responsibilities.  If you see that the new privilege is not being handled optimally, you have only to point this out, but doing so in a constructive, non-judgmental (as much as possible), and kind way such that you maintain the child’s dignity.   Other age-limited privileges might be being allowed to stay home alone, being trusted to watch over younger siblings, being trusted to babysit other smaller children in the neighborhood, or being trusted for unsupervised activity out of sight or away from home. 

Despite the change in responsibility and maturity of your child, however, there are still some activities that should always be handled very carefully regardless of age, such as your children being alone with a child of the opposite sex whether older or younger than your child.  Children can so easily get into sexual mischief due to their natural curiosity about these things.  Knowing the danger, parents should very carefully supervise or restrict the conditions under which any activity occurs between your child and a child of the opposite sex until they are old enough to handle the adult responsibilities that might come out of more serious relationships.  It is not so much that you don’t trust them, but rather, you should understand human nature by now, having lived into adulthood and having observed and experienced countless human behaviors.  Furthermore, knowing human nature, you should also know that humans, especially small ones, can make huge errors in judgment with some pretty serious issues such as sexuality or safety, with the error in judgment resulting in serious consequences.

I pray God’s wisdom in abundance for you so that you can set fair and appropriate rules for your children and that you have the wisdom to know when to increase privileges and responsibilities that you bestow upon them.
 


Comments

06/18/2016 2:49pm

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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