Jean2, you're also very open and honest and I respect that. I think I have a very unique perspective here because I was raised in a family with similar beliefs to most Americans (and yourself) about children. We were to be seen and not heard, we were to always have our very best manners, never to embarrass our mother, NEVER to interrupt anyone (especially adults) and do our job (school) as dutifully as we could. And I believed all that too, until I started looking into homeschooling and was led to unschooling. So I know exactly where you're coming from.
But now I'm on the other side where I find myself asking, "why is it ok for me to interrupt their playtime to make them cleanup just because I decide it's time?" I wouldn't want them to come in while I'm scrapbooking and say, "OK, time to clean up - I want to go to Walmart," and me be forced into it. Yeah, I'm the mom. OK. Sometimes I *have to* (there are those words again) - like tomorrow morning, I have to take one kid to the dr. They all *have to* go - they're simply too young to stay home by themselves. But on the way home from playing with friends today, I wanted to make a quick stop by Michaels. They were hot and thirsty from playing and didn't want to stop. I quickly calculated that I could change my plans and just go tonight after Hubby gets home. It'll probably be a much more enjoyable trip for me anyway without all of them tagging along, unless they want to, of course.
If I want their respect and consideration for me, I need to model the same for them. Yesterday I got a *super fantastic* deal on some used Gameboy's and games. The games that came along in the package were for older kids but my kids were anxious to get games they could play (who could blame them? If I had a new scrapbooking tool, I'd want to use it right away!). So, although I had 3 stops to make today before making it to our date with friends, I added a stop to the game store too. I don't want my actions to tell them that my wants and needs are more important than theirs simply because they are kids. Yes, I am in authority over them and sometimes I have to make calls they don't like. But we're a family unit. It's not us vs. the kids. Everyone gets a voice (who is old enough to give one), we vote on activities that conflict, etc. If they were roommates who shared our car, wouldn't we give them that courtesy? I try to ask more than tell. I like to give them the opportunity to choose. There are many times I tell rather than ask...I tell them to brush their teeth, I tell them to eat their veggies if they want dessert. But I let them choose when to brush and which veggie they prefer and if they want something to dip it in. I don't want to stifle my kids with control as my parents generation did. I also don't want to leave them as free as their parents generation did (which led to sex, drugs and Woodstock...lol). Hubby and I strive for a somewhere in between the two.