It was around the time of the Blue Notebook that my husband introduced the Freedom, Expectations, Consequences List to his son. My stepson was 12, going to be 13 in January 2023 and my husband realized his son only had 5-6 years left before he became an adult. This list I’m going to present to you became a huge problem and was considered abuse.
Some Freedoms from our list were: Go To Bed Whenever You Want
You Choose Whatever Food You Want To Eat
Have the Room the Way You Want It
Play Video Games
Call Your Friends on the Phone
Watch any PG-13 movie (added for his 13th birthday)
Some of the Expectations from our list were:
Be in your room by 9:30PM (shower, teeth, etc done prior to this)
Be ready for school by 8AM (getting up, getting dressed, making sure you had breakfast and packed a lunch)
Take out trash and recycling (on Sundays before 5PM)
Turn off lights when leaving a room
Pick up after yourself
Do laundry by 9PM (as whoever made the addition to our house before we moved in, made the laundry room off the master bedroom). This was a huge deal as well too even though we weren’t the one that put the laundry in there and we gave him all day to be able to throw the clothes in.
The Consequences were pretty much the same when it came to each Expectation. There would be a warning as the 1st offense if certain things (chores) weren’t done during the time frame given. And when I say time frame, I mean giving a child over 6 hours to complete the task. After that 1st offense, there would be a $1 fine if not completed within the new time frame given. My husband was helping him prepare for becoming more independent and having more responsibilities.
Yes, some can say that these the consequences we gave or even what was in the book is harsh, but at the end of the day, if you follow the basic expectations, you NEVER had to worry about the consequences.
It seemed no one wanted to take into consideration that this came from a published book and by an author who was a therapist as well. Everyone just wanted to listen to my stepson or what his mother had to say about it. And with the colluding, my stepson made sure he had the consequences so then he could go complain to his mom.
As I mentioned, this chart came from a book. My husband took the examples from the book and crafted the list to fit his son’s needs. The book is called, “Feeding the Mouth that Bites You” by Ken Wilgus. This blog is going to be more of a review for the book and why my husband picked it.
“Feeding the Mouth that Bites You” is a book that helps prepare parents for their child’s teenage years. Raising teenagers doesn’t have to be hard and painful. With my stepson being 12 at the time, a pre-teen, my husband wanted to get the preparations going before he became an official teenager. I read this book with my husband, and it is very practical and makes a lot of sense. It really opened my eyes to the teen years and thought back to what I wish could have been different if my parents had this book when I was younger.
My husband saw this book as a guideline, an outline, for parents to help adolescents realize their path to independence in life. One day your child won’t be living with you anymore, wouldn’t you like to make sure they are prepared for the real world? This book helps parents, and even future parents, meet their teenager’s needs in a reasonable way. My husband was trying to teach his son consequences to help prepare him for adulthood. Yes, there were fines if he didn’t follow through, but if you don’t pay the banks or even your bills on time, is there a late fee? Yes, late fees start to apply. What if you don’t finish a project for school, or for your professor in college, or even your boss at work by the deadline? You could receive a failed grade, get penalized, or even a warning, get written up or fired from your job.
The main reason my stepson didn’t care for this or appreciate it is because we found out that while he’s at his mom’s house, he doesn’t have to do anything. Why go to a house that has rules, when you have another parent that’s considered the “FUN” parent. The parent that only tells the child to pick up their socks and throw their paper plate away. You might have a good time with the “FUN” parent, but it’s not the best for the long run if you don’t learn expectations or consequences. Would you be able to even hold a job if you couldn’t be accountable and learn basic skills? There are a lot of questions in this blog, but at the end of the day, they were questioned that we had ourselves. My husband and I are fun people, but at the same time we want and appreciate having structure within our household and not run crazy.
My husband’s ex and her lawyer would constantly try to bring it up in court as one of the first terrible things we abused my stepson with. And every time, we would show the judge and everyone else in the room that it came from a book…this book. They would try so hard in court to claim it was something that my husband came up with on his own instead.
My husband’s parents ended up reading it and wished they had a book like this when he was growing up. When DCF eventually came to our house months later, she loved the idea too and even took a picture as she has a teenager child. We even promoted this book to our church community who were interested as well as they are partaking in a parenting bible study course.