By popular demand… here you go…
I am definitely over halfway. Halfway done with my life I mean. I’ve learned a lot and have a lot to learn. I also have a lot to teach.
One of the greatest responsibilities I have as a parent is to teach my children the skills that will help them function as adults. Years ago I read a parenting book that inspired me to make more of an effort and not just assume that the kid would figure it out as they went along. (To know me is to know that I rarely read parenting books, almost never finish the ones I start and rarely care for much of what I do read. Yet, this book rang true – I’ll try to remember to find it and include the information.) Anyway, this book tells of a mom who was taking her daughter to college. She and mothers of the roommates were talking. The other mothers were laughing at everything that their daughters did not know and how funny it would be to watch them try and learn. This particular mother was rather horrified. Aren’t we supposed to be teaching and training our children? Shouldn’t some of that training involve life skills?
I have six children. Only two still live at home. I used to be younger. That means that my older children had a much more energetic mother than my younger children. I know I have not had the stamina and vitality that shaped those early years. It has been too easy to let a few things (like chore charts) slide. The kids don’t mind, but I do! Last year I asked Kimberly to help with a simple task in the kitchen and realized she was unsure of what to do… hmmmm… maybe the older children were right? Maybe these younger ones needed just a little more training?
It took awhile to come up with my list – I asked my older children for ideas. They knew what had helped them, but they felt even stronger about what they wished their roommates had been taught before leaving home! I also asked a lot of friends – this was helpful because they have different experiences than I so their contributions have proven valuable.
Here is how it works: I have three lists of life skills for Kimberly and David to learn. They get to choose what they do and when they do it. Sometimes I point out when there is an opportunity available. (Example – Mom says, “We have company coming and we will be using full place settings – who would like to do it correctly and pass it off?” “I was going to make pizza tonight, does anyone want to pass off making the dough?”) Sometimes they seek opportunities. (Example – Child says, “Is this a good night for me to find a new cookie recipe and pass it off?”) Sometimes they just do it on their own. (Example – David says, “I just taught Kimberly how to change a tire on the truck.”)
When they complete one of the lists – there is a prize. The second and third prizes are better than the first. They work on all of the lists simultaneously.
We had fried eggs this week – I broke two of the yokes… I guess I need a little more practice. It’s just that my two “skilled” children usually make the eggs… Some “skills” may be forgotten as soon as I pass it off, some “skills” will stick with them forever. I’m just happy that we are working together – if you ask them about it they may roll their eyes. The truth is that this is fun and they are proud… and I can ask either one of them to make rolls for dinner.
Mostly we limp along – these lists have been on our kitchen walls for almost a year. That’s fine with me. This is one of those perks of being older and more experienced. I have complete confidence that we will accomplish all of it – and I have confidence that they will have a better experience if I am not stressed out about it. We are definitely over halfway.
The book that I mentioned is The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack.
I wish these ideas had occurred to me whilst raising my children; although I remember on occasion where I would have them help with a particular task I was performing.