Why do parents believe they don’t have to follow the rules?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about one of my pet peeves – parents who don’t supervise their kids while playing at the park. (Just because they are 5 or 7 doesn’t mean they know how to play nicely with others.)

This week I wanted to address one of my other pet peeves – parents who don’t follow the rules or don’t make their kids follow them.

My son had a field trip to the zoo at the end of March. The instruction sheet that came home to chaperones said not to buy the kids in your group anything and not to let any of the kids buy treats or toys. A similar note that purchasing food and merchandise was not allowed went home to all parents. Of course one mom immediately upon hearing this said, “Well why not? What if I want something?” My first thought was “Seriously?”

And of course while at the zoo, my son did see one of his friends with his mom, and he was eating ice cream. My son knew the rule and asked why ‘Brian’ had ice cream. I explained to him that ‘Brian’s’ mom wasn’t following the rules. (Not to mention she separated her son from his partner – another no-no. All kids were supposed to stay with their partner. I just hope another adult was part of their group.)

I don’t know if Brian’s mother actually was purposively ignoring the rules. She may have forgotten or perhaps she didn’t read them.  But honestly, it just seems that many parents think the rules don’t apply to them or to their kids. And by ignoring the rules, they are telling their kids that the rules don’t matter. Children learn by modeling others. If they observe us disregarding a rule, they will likely believe that all rules are negotiable. And that isn’t something that I want to teach my children. Rules are there for a reason, and they need to abide by them whether they agree with them or not.

rule breakerAt my daughter’s preschool during performances, they always tell you not to block the aisles and that if you want to video the performance to do it from the back. Yep, you guessed it. There are always parents kneeling in the aisle with their cameras or those who hold up their phone or iPad to record the proceedings. Never mind that those of us behind you can no longer see.

Another instance that comes to mind has not happened to me but to a friend I met on the WebMD community boards. Her child is severely allergic to peanuts. Her school is not a peanut-free school. (Neither is my child’s school.) The teacher and school set up provisions for her child’s class to be peanut-free. And there was at least one parent who complained about it. Her child would only eat peanut butter for lunch. How dare they tell her he couldn’t have that? No, it is more like how dare she endanger another child by thinking of sending in peanut butter that could actually kill another child?

You also see people lying about the age of their child to get them in at a lower price or even free. I recall reading on the DisBoards (Boards set up for people to talk about and plan their trips to Walt Disney World) about people sticking kids who are clearly over 3 into strollers and declaring them under that age, so they don’t have to pay for them. I would never consider doing that and even on my daughter’s first birthday told someone she was one and had to pay for her admission to a play area where she would have been free just the day before.  And of course, many parents disregard the ages for certain play areas. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have seen older kids in a toddler area or under 5 area.

Now I am not saying I am perfect and follow every rule. I use to sneak snacks into the movies when the kids were younger. At the time they didn’t drink soda and they would not eat anything offered from the movie snack bar but candy. Now they eat popcorn and always want me to buy it along with a soda. I do, however, keep sneaking in some candy (can’t justify paying that price).  Of course as a child I remember my mom sneaking in food and drinks to the movies too so I guess it is true – we model what we see.