Parenting: It’s A Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It Part 2
My wife & I were recently talking about the lessons we’ve learned since becoming parents, and this is the second in a series of blogs we thought we would share. If you missed part one, I would encourage you to check it out (part 1).
DON’T LET YOUR LIFE REVOLVE AROUND YOUR CHILD
In this age of helicopter parenting, this point may seem counter-culture. When our children see our lives (the parents) revolving around them, it creates a false sense of reality. Obviously, this will look differently during different seasons. When they are younger, children need a lot of attention. But even at a young age it’s important that your child knows you love them to death, but are not going to drop everything for them every time they call.
There may be times that you move your plans to accommodate their schedule, but there may also be times they have to say no to things because what they want to do doesn’t fit with your schedule (and your life matters too). You may not always be able to give them a ride to their friend’s house. You may not be able to buy them that toy/clothing item/device/etc. Sometimes they will need to wait for you to finish what you are doing before they can demand your attention.
Depending on your personality, this might be very difficult for you — but trust me, it will be worth it when your child is socially and emotionally well adjusted.
HARD WORK IS NOT A BAD THING
We have two children and, as we will talk more about later, that means we have two very different children. One works very hard at most things. The other is usually very content with the minimum effort. One of the lessons we are trying to teach both of them is that talent and dreams will only get you halfway to your goals. Hard work is necessary to get you the rest of the way.
This can be one of the most difficult lessons for children and adolescents to learn. I’m not sure if we always did it correctly — and I have a feeling we will be dealing with it for years to come. However, there are a few things we did when our children were young that we feel helped reinforce this principle.
- Make your kids do their own homework. For some of you, this may seem like a no-brainer. It seemed like it to me. But I have to admit there were/are times when just doing the work for them is a lot easier.
For example, your child springs a last minute project on you that you know is going to take them all weekend, but you could do it yourself in just a few hours. I have gone to many back-to-school nights where it is plain to see a project the child has done with supervision and a project the child has done with “supervision.”
Being present when your child is doing their homework is a lot different than writing their paper or sentences for them. It’s their assignment and they need to learn how to work hard for a good grade.
- Make your kids work for their money. We are willing to give our kids money, but we want them to learn how hard it is to earn money and therefore, how to spend it wisely.
Inevitably your child will come to you and ask, can I go to the movies or to lunch with a friend? Or, can I buy this expensive piece of clothing? Or, can I get a new phone? When our children entered Jr High we started making them work around the house to earn money to pay for these items. Not everything, of course…we buy most of their clothes, but for example, if they wanted an expensive pair of jeans we would give them the money for a normal pair of jeans and they can kick in the rest, if it’s that important to them. Then they get to share the sting of buying expensive brands rather than expecting us to buy them.
When it was time for our kids to go on a very expensive trip with their school in Jr High, we made them pay for about a ⅓ of it. So, they found babysitting jobs, they recycled, they used their allowance money and even birthday and Christmas money. They earned that trip and we were very proud of them for working so hard.
On a side note: this has also coming in very handy for explaining how to budget your money. I had a conversation with my daughter once because she wanted to go to lunch with friends, but she didn’t have any money left over. I explained to her she needs to set money aside for lunch with friends so that if it come up unexpectedly, she can go. However, if she spends all her money, then she will have to say no to invitations she really wants to accept.
Having said all that…there is a lot of grace in this for me — sometimes I’ll buy things they weren’t expecting — but that’s the fun part of being a parent.
Share your own parenting tips in the comments below.
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