Is life too easy on our kids?
We all know the story, parents complaining of disrespectful, whining, lazy kids with an attitude of entitlement. How do we keep our children from developing these traits? I think about my own upbringing and I don't recall lots of discussion about whatever assignment my dad would give me. I remember that cleaning my room, mowing the grass and being basically responsible was an expectation not an exception!
One of the fears I have for my own kids is going too easy on them. I'm guilty! I give my kids special privileges so much it's hard to call them special anymore! I love seeing their faces light up with excitement when they get a trip to the donut shop or get to watch the newest movie or when they get to play their favorite video game. I love treating them like little adults and give them lots of cool experiences. However, I fear they are lacking some very important points of training…something I intend to change!
I resolve to give my kids the one privilege that outranks them all - responsibility!
1. Work Ethic. The capacity to start and finish a task with focus, determination and excellence. I was raised with an expectation to work. Today I am grateful that I have that capacity built into me. The work ethic bred into me has made me confident to take on virtually anything. I know I can start and finish tasks with excellence. I can attack a task with fervor and enthusiasm. I want my kids to learn this. Whether it be mowing the grass or learning their vocabulary words for the week, they have to learn to muster up the work ethic to get stuff done.
2. Whining. As of right now (I actually made this announcement on Monday to my oldest) I no longer accept whining. It's ridiculous. Every time we parents give in to whining, we make it abundantly clear that we respond to whiners. It is not good for us or for our kids. Whining is immature behavior. Whining is tunnel vision for selfishness. Here's what I know about the future for my boys - no woman wants to marry a whiner. I need to train my kids that whining is not acceptable. We can talk, we can negotiate (on certain things) but whining is no longer acceptable.
3. Hard things. I don't endorse parents forcing hard things on kids for no reason, however dealing with hard things is just one of the ways we develop maturity in life. Sometimes our kids need to feel the weight of something hard. Don't do your child's school work for them. Don't give them all the answers. Don't do what they are reasonably capable of at their age and stage of life. I got news for the Savage boys - if you can operate an iPad or a Wii or PlayStation, you can operate a washing machine - the washing machine is FAR simpler. As parents we can do hard things alongside our kids, to give them instruction and guidance, especially when we are introducing something new. For instance, my son doesn't know it yet but there's a bunch of wood to split and stack up in our back yard, he's about to learn what "splittin' wood" means!
4. Chores. I love giving kids chores. I think it helps them see that they have a role to play in the family. It helps them see the effort that is involved in making life happen. Our boys have to do a number of tasks at home from emptying the dishwasher to vacuuming the upstairs to making their beds. These are simple chores that give them "skin in the game." When they have to clean up the playroom they slowly learn that playing has consequences. Not bad consequences but reality consequences. A fun day of play results in toys everywhere, so there must be clean up. It is not unreasonable to apply the following… if you eat on it you clean it up, if you sleep on it you make it, if you spill it you sop it up, if you get it out you put it up.
5. Too much talk. This is where I need to grow as a parent more than all the others. I talk to my kids too much! Normally you would hear me say, talking to our kids is part of how we love them, which is true. However, there is a talk that only creates more problem. We as parents (I'm the chief of sinners here) undermine our own authority by over-explaining, couching our commands and easing the blow of communication to our kids. We entertain their objections and therefore give them an inflated view of their own opinions. A child's opinion should not overthrow a parent's decision very often. Sure, as parents we have our moments where we misjudge something, but let's face it, that doesn't happen near as often as our children object to us! Most of the time we should state the command (not the request) and expect action and compliance.
I hope you can learn from my life and failures as a dad. If you found this post is helpful please consider sharing it with a friend, thanks!
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