Children in Community
We expect everyone to set their own boundaries with the children in the house. We will not hold your boundaries for you. We value our children learning that different people have different boundaries. The children are pretty good at respecting the boundaries you set, though they are likely to push back and need the boundary defined many times. They are also going to check each boundary in different situations, so like if you are busy, tired, distracted, etc. they will check to see if your boundaries are different. We usually verbally explain where the boundary is and what behaviors we would like to see. For example, one of our residents requires the children to ask before entering their bedroom. If the children enter their room without asking first, they are asked to leave and try again. There are other rooms the children are allowed in without asking and they know which rooms are which. We do not value consistency, but we do value explanation. Examples might be “please be gentle with me, that hurts”, “stop, that’s dangerous”, “I don’t want you to play with that because I don’t want it to get lost/broken/used up”, “That’s too loud for me right now.” The best boundaries include an authentic reason. The best reasons are about you, not the child. “Because I don’t like that” works great. We never ignore our children. If they interrupt us, we stop and ask them to wait a minute, and then address them afterwards. We leave space for them to participate in conversations and we will interrupt anyone who talks over them.
Things left in reach of the children will get played with. If you do not want the children to play with your things, put them in a place that is not accessible. High places or locked cabinets are your best bets. Keep in mind that some children will drag around a barstool and use it to get at high things, so out reach is the height of the tallest child plus the height of a barstool. The kids seem to leave closed bags alone, but will get into open bags. Please make sure that any dangerous or poisonous items are secure in the poison cabinet or in your locked room. This includes, but is not limited to, shaving razors, prescription and nonprescription medications, sharp objects and weapons. We do not take responsibility for damage to your personal property.
We allow the children to do most things that they are capable of for themselves. Sometimes individual children are capable of things that we assume they should not be able to do yet. For example, one of our children has been cooking at a hot stove by themselves since they were 13 months old. As a 3 year-old, that same child is not yet using sharp knives unless they are being actively managed and taught how. The kids are usually asked to clean up messes they make, especially spills, toys and books. We will often ask the children to do things that we are not sure if they can do; sometimes we are surprised. This is not a complete list, but gives the picture.
We do not censor ourselves around the children (anymore than we do around adults). Slurs in general are not welcomed in the house and are even more so asked to be checked around the kids. We think it is important for kids to see real life things. We generally avoid violent and very sexually explicit media around the children. If a film shows naked people kissing or people laying in a bed with the assumption that sex might be happening, that is fine. If a film shows more explicit and detailed sex acts don't watch it with the children. Put another way: don't show my kids porn, yo. If you do choose to share media with the children, be prepared to explain what is going on, particularly calling attention to who is consenting to what.
We value modeling consent for the children. This includes asking permission when interacting with their bodies and making sure they are asking about interacting with your body. When playing games where they are saying stop or no, even if they are still wanting to play, we immediately stop whatever the game is. Stopping the game for stop or no is almost always followed by an immediate “again,” at which point you may continue. We try to avoid blanket statements like “don't ever hit.” We replace such statements with something like “we ask before we hit our friends.”
Babies do not have wants, only needs. If they are crying, stop what you are doing and find out what they need.