For a guy who’s written about trying to maintain control of the household electronics, it was brought home the other night that I wasn’t aware how enforcement has slid as more kids came along and they grew older.
Enforcement is part of the parent’s job and I knew – intellectually – that I was being stretched as the kids multiplied and aged but a car conversation with Middle brought home how much. Part of our primary defense on the personal computer is simply placement in the family room; with me and other siblings that would happily rat out the offender generally around. But we’d previously had some age limits on use of the internet and allowable sites with Middle not being allowed on until a certain age and Middle pointed out that Youngest was allowed on at a younger age than he. My retort was that Youngest had cleared a few specific sites for play and I’d reviewed them – which is true – but Middle’s response was that his younger brother was getting on without my permission and I wasn’t challenging him.
This is, unfortunately, true.
The simple reality is that with more kids, activities and general stuff, I’ve fallen into the trap of just checking on the site content but letting things ride for a short while before booting the child off. In my mind, it was acceptable since I didn’t have the time available at the moment to just deal with the probable distraction caused by Youngest, who’d probably need or want something. But my downfall was in failing to recognize how it would be viewed by an elder sibling who saw the youngest getting away with something, and he was entirely correct. The other simple reality is that I’ve gone back and reviewed some of the basic rules with Youngest, who will have to check in with me anytime that he wants to use the computer, and especially to go onto the internet.
The final reality is that I’ve had to tell Middle that he was correct and that actions were being taken to rectify things. And if Youngest just has to wait and entertain himself without a screen, then those are the breaks.