Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Responsible Parenting

We live with a generation of young people who are constantly being blamed for not having acquired responsible life skills over their short lives.

No doubt if you're raising older children, yours have probably already encountered and witnessed life contrasts in other family's homes, bringing home tales of what "Johnny" is never responsible for, and how easy his life is over there.

Usually without delay from that point onward, continual temptation reigns for making comparisons at the expense at times of the shortly lived ... "poor me, look what I have to do in my family and Johnny doesn't".
  • Johnny doesn't have to do that at his house.
  • Johnny's parents gave him a car and he can go out whenever he wants to.
  • Johnny doesn't have to babysit his brothers and sisters.
  • Johnny doesn't have to do dishes
  • Johnny doesn't have to come home for dinner
  • Johnny doesn't have to change his own sheets or do his own laundry
...blah,blah,blah..... and other such foreboding tales that make me crack a bit of a smile (a deja vu revisit) and where my husband and I tend to become repetitive saying - well...."you're not Johnny" and ... "In our home, we.....".

Obviously with six grown children/adults thus far, mentoring still continues when required. It just does.

As one might imagine, many young people have frequented our home over the years. Many still keep in close contact and have become dear to our hearts as they've become fine adults. Some we have become fiercely protective over from their own lot of life, especially for those loving the idea of "family life" here for it fills a void they do not have in their own homes. We had a night like that the other night in fact.

One thing is for sure, these types of kids are always eager and happy to lend a hand if they have dinner with us, fast becoming part of our team, well sort of. It's interesting to note when they are here how they are so in tune to watching who's turn it is for washing the dishes, dish towel quickly in hand ready to help out, and always admitting they are never required to do that at home. They offer solid confirmation to our young people that they feel satisfied by being able to lend a hand.

I remember my husband being asked by my mother many years ago if he would bring in the groceries from her car, to which he replied later on, "I've never done that before". Huh? He was promptly warned to get used to it once we were married....LOL

We had a teen stay overnight with us in the heart of a snow storm a few weeks ago, and when our son announced to his friend he must first get his snowblowing duties fulfilled, the friend offered to grab a snow shovel and clear the stairwells and decks to work alongside of him. Impressive. This is the goal, teens/young adults who know how to complete a task so they can offer assistance to others, once again - lending a hand.

At times, a parent might be tempted to think an older teen or young adult as lazy. I'm not talking about the excess need for sleep during those growing and staying-up-way-too-late-years, rather the possibility one has never been taught simple life skills and hasn't a clue how to begin or leaves a responsibility incomplete, for perhaps he wasn't mentored toward the journey of adulthood, enabled along for years for lack of practice at becoming productive individuals who can stand on their own two feet later in life.

As each of our children has left our nest or even just begins a first employment out in the big wide world, we've come to realize more and more how important and absolutely necessary it is to ensure they are properly mentored and equipped with skills in advance. We can only hope and pray that when the time comes, we really have prepared them as best we could so they are able to handle life's real world matter waiting out yonder.

The best pose he would allow for a quick snap on his way to work.

In this "me" generation, and the world of dual working parents who may choose to hire household help, the children are often left in the dust without attaining skills while playing their position on the family's "team".

How can one be on a team when they're benched all the time?

It takes time and repeated effort, two valued commodities many families do not make a priority for anymore.

The team soon becomes disillusioned with losing scores when an environment is created whereby children become fixed statues, overheated in a "red hot house" and allowed to bake.

Eventually self centered individuals can reign in the family, those with zero responsibilities within the family unit as a whole, slothfulness often develops, and then suddenly - a parent begins to wonder why they have a lazy kid.

Several years ago we attended a friend's daughter's wedding. During a momentary fit of panic the mother of the bride turned and hugged me. It was as if it that readiness factor she dreamed of for her daughter had just dawned on her for the first time, for she admitted she was hugely concerned whether or not she had used her time wisely for teaching her daughter all about marriage, homekeeping and all other skills to carry with her when leaving the altar. She was actually having to fend off a full blown panic attack.

As I consoled her, I continued to hold her close until she began to simmer down. I dabbed her damp cheeks with a tissue from the box on the table nearby. In my own heart, I knew exactly how she felt for those same thoughts cross all mother's hearts during such a time, mine included.

Let's be real here....

The mother who insists her child never make his own bed because she can't stand how sloppy it ends up, or the father who doesn't allow his son to use the lawn mower because he wants a perfect border around the yard without blade burns, both in my own opinion are parents who will eventually raise a non-motivated child who lives life thinking he cannot possibly ever measure up.

I've seen it so many times!
How many times do you hear of young adults bringing their laundry home for their mommy to do when they are in their twenties, thirties or (gasp) even older when they could, and should instead be doing it themselves? (Some instances are excusable, you know what I mean here I'm sure) One might begin to wonder if perhaps they were even taught how themselves.

In this world of kids desiring independence at age appropriate timing, seemingly some are not entirely ready to flee the coop, prematurely stunted as their wings aren't strong enough to flap and fly allowing them to remain airborne. Whose duty is it really to ensure they are well taught and properly in tune for that next step on life?

What a shame that they are to venture out along the journey of life's path possibly unprepared. What a waste during their youthful years not to have been taught to know, tackle, and become excited about life skills along the way.

Suddenly coping skills become necessary as life is full once the road to adulthood is set before them, full of many topics requiring continual guidance, advice, and perhaps assistance (like that of filling out a tax return form for instance at this time of year).

It's handy having a sister who works in a bakery :)

Eventually it all becomes - too late!

Or is it?

Nah - this is the great part! It's never too late to learn. Come on then - step one for your children at home; lower your standards a bit parents and allow for the learning curve on their journey to adulthood. Just DO IT!
  • Viva la grass burns because the blade on the bottom of the mower hits the side of the slope the wrong way! A+ for a great effort to help out the family.
  • Viva the wrinkles in a young child's bed and the proud face on the child who thought he accomplished a great job all the same!
  • Viva the father who isn't afraid to have his children follow him around while performing his household duties, passing along both handy skills and allowing for bonding times!
  • Viva the kitchen sink with a handful of food still in it and soap bubbles not rinsed when the young child happily offered to wash all the dishes!
  • Viva the mother who hugs her child for assisting at the window washing even though the sun seems to catch a million streaks afterward!
  • Viva the time a mother spends teaching her child to fold his own cloths, vacuum his own room, sweep a floor, wash and dry dishes or even load a dishwasher, learns to use the appliances in a home, gardens, washes his/her own hair and a multitude of other life skills SOMEONE must teach them to do for themselves.
  • Viva the mother whose little one proudly graces her with a cup of warm tap water tea during a tiring moment of the day, a cup of tea they made all by themselves. So blessed!
  • Viva a mother who has many children and the wee youngsters don't/can't do a perfect job but they smile and "help mommy" because they LOVE to. And even if that means double the work by the mommy to also clean up after this fun loving offering and good deed minded child, she knows she is blessed beyond measure.

Ah, bliss! Parental mentoring; at the end of the day, there is no perfect formula but truly we can only HOPE and PRAY we've done the best we can along the way.

Here's to all the parents out there who make the effort to train up their children in the ways they should go, in all facets; physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, morally, financially , etc...

Here's to the parents out there who weren't necessarily taught to perform many life skills themselves but who aren't afraid to learn alongside of their children, because they can, because they need to, because they want to!

Here's to our children, those precious souls who are growing, learning, absorbing and performing the best they can, playing their positions well on their family "team".

Go Team!

Hip Hip Hooray!