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In The Parenting Breakthrough, Boyack talks about three main purposes of parenting.
Health and Safety of Children
It is our job to care for the physical well-being of our children. We feed them. We give them healthy food and try to teach them to like healthy foods. We give them a place to sleep. Many of us work to teach our children good sleeping habits. We give them clothes.
We take them to the doctor and to the dentist. We teach them to wash their hands. We teach them how to safely interact with strangers and people they know. We buckle them up in their car seats and keep them off of high surfaces.
This is the next step. The first purpose is kind of enough on its own, right? That is a lot of things to do.
Then we add the values education. We teach our children values and character traits we view important. We teach them about God. We help them develop virtues. We teach them how to be kind to others and be good friends.
Another huge category.
Training Children to be Independent Adults
I think this one is the hardest of all. Most parents I know do a great job of category one and two. This third category is hard to do. This involves teaching children how to work, which means we go through years of training how to work, followed by years of “encouraging” work–the whole thing is a lot of work for parents. There is also teaching about finanancial stability.
This category requires a lot of what seems to be hands-off parenting. It requires you to allow your children to feel the consequences for actions as discussed in the Love & Logic books. It requires you to stand away with your hands behind your back while your child makes his bed. It means that you will give your child a task, teach him about it, and then trust him to do it.
As Boyack says, you “teach them well and then boot them out” (page 8).
As John Rosemond put it, “The ultimate goal of raising children is to help them out of our lives and into successful lives of their own” (John Rosemond’s Guide to Parenting).
This third category is really what this entire book is all about. How to go about achieving this goal.
But let’s be honest, as we are raising these children, it really is easier to do things ourselves, right? In order to have a teenage boy who makes his bed on his own, I need to have taught him how to make his bed at some point. When that point comes, while he is learning, will he do it as well as I do? Of course not!
When I had 3 year old Brayden vacuum a room, did he miss a lot of spots? For sure. Did he take four times as long to do a job? Painfully so.
“The real problem with doing everything ourselves is that we end up always doing everything ourselves. And our children don’t grow up; they just get bigger” (page 10).
Do you know what happens after a while? Well, four year old Brayden could vacuum a room well. He still took four times longer than I did, but he did it well. Five year old Brayden can vacuum a room well and do it only twice as long as I can. And he can do it independently enough that I can have him vacuum a room while I clean up the next room to be vacuumed.
“…we end up always doing everything ourselves…”–I am a person who can easily see 20 steps ahead of myself to see what consequences come from my actions. I knew I wanted children who knew how to work, so I taught them to work. It wasn’t hard; their father and I are hard workers. Children like to emulate parents and love to spend time with parents. They work with us.
My mother-in-law gave me a great gift. She gave me a husband who can work. I want to give my future daughter-in-law that gift. I want my future sons-in-law to have the same gift. I want my grandchildren to have parents who are hardworking and good examples.
You know what else? I want some help from these kids. I want to be able to give them jobs around the house and lighten my load. I want to make them peel all of the potatoes when it is dinner time like my mom made me. Then when they move out, I might be like my mother-in-law and only make mashed potatoes with skins on because I really never did like peeling potatoes anyway.
If they are contributing to the mess around here, I want them helping to clean it up.
I want my kids moving out of the house knowing how to clean, cook, and do laundry. They don’t need to be experts or gourmet–my husband knows I am a million times better of a cook today than the day we got married. I do, however, want them to be capable. I want them to be able to cook a meal with some confidence. I want them to know how to clean a toilet and how to sort laundry.
That means I need to teach them now, even though in many ways it is painfully slow. But it improves surprisingly quickly. I love that I can tell five year old Brayden to go clean up all of the toys in his room and he does so without supervision. It gives me the will to continue working with my girls to get to the same place.
You can do it! It all sounds more complicated than it is. Most of you probably have correct instincts. Do things the right way rather than the easy way, and you will soon find out that in the long run, the right way was the easy way after all.
Related Posts/Blog Labels:
- Parenting breakthrough
- Teach Your Child Independence :http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/04/teach-your-child-independence.html