A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Expectations and value

This post was written in response to an email a friend sent me about "helicopter parenting". I feel like I really can comment on this with some amount of respect as many people have approached my husband and myself in public and commented on our children's behavior. We were just discussing it last night. We generally have been approached by total strangers two to three times a week in the last month. Clerks in stores, people in waiting rooms at doctor's offices, people in restraunts. It has really gotten us quite surprised because our kids behavior is far from perfect, but we are seeing a consistent response in public. Perhaps other parents just don't expect or train considerate and appropriate behavior.

Anyway, the post about helicopter parents today got me thinking and I just started jotting out our expectations and values. I sent it back to the friend who had sent me the email. And decided that I would post it here.

I don't think we are strange. I think we are working hard to do the best for our kids and family. It isn't rocket science and we certainly find that we make many mistakes, and I expect that there will be many more. As I type this I hear boys in the "boys dormitory" upstairs banging around and playing when they are supposed to be getting dressed - I am sure getting dressed is part of the equation, but not the only part! LOL! Kids are kids, we are all on a journey, but we are doing it together.

So, here were my comments:


Allow your child to suffer the natural consequences of their actions.

Expect responsibility and good behavior. Have consequences for lapses in either.

Don't give them big ticket (or even small ticket) items that they did not earn - these things are not needed! They are poorer for just "getting them", they are richer for having earned them and worked hard.

Allow them to get the grades they earn. Help, but don't do their work for them or put word in their mouths!

Your family is a TEAM, and that means that each and every person in the family (no matter how big or small) contributes significantly to the success of the family - by doing something meaningful to help the family each and every day, and even better if it is several things! The last thing our kids need is to be waited and and feel useless or "non-contributing". The best thing for them is to know that they can make life better for everyone, that what they do helps or hurts everyone, that they can influence how their family life is.

Do things as a FAMILY. If someone is gifted in sports, then the family gets involved - the child isn't just shuttled there - and the child contributes to help earn the fees for the sports, or does something meaningful to compensate for the sacrifice of the family financially (it is not just GIVEN). Gifts need to be valued, by everyone. If someone is a gifted musician, then the rest of the family can help backstage, or with other folks kids while rehearsals go on, or with set up, AND simply enjoy and value the gift!

Limit electronics time. Don't let it take over real life - kids should be outside playing, playing games, having creative play - with parents and with siblings and friends. Real life projects, whatever, but not staring at a shiny box.

When friends spend hours on a social net work and complain that they are bored, your child should really be thinking "get a life - get off your butt and do something!". They should not be at loose ends every minute of every day. They should know how to set goals, to work on projects, to experience life!

When parents have to do things around the house or in the community, get the kids involved. If you are building a shed, even the littlest one can hand you nails, the bigger ones can learn the skills to build the entire thing if they do it along with you! If you are baking a pie - get a child involved! They can help you find things, pour them in - even the smallest child! And soon, before you know it, that child knows how to do it and can bless you, themselves and others with their prowess!

Rarely, rarely, rarely separate the family. Make it infrequent that a child or children does many things away from the family. Get involved in their activities. Not to hover, not to protect, but to live life. Don't allow talents and activities to separate the real foundation of our lives - our family. A child who is constantly gone to sleepovers, activities, etc, misses out on the riches of family life. They become not "integral" to the family unit, and really miss out on the learning that they need, and on building relationships. Have friends over to your house, host sleepovers and bonfires, etc.

If a child misbehaves, throws a tantrum, says something mean or hurtful, etc, they have hurt the family unit, even if someone else just overheard it. It hurts and inflicts discomfort on the family. This must be repaid, best through service. If you made us uncomfortable, whatever, then you need to do something kind to the family to repay the pain/discomfort. It brings home that a child's actions afffect more than just them. Kids in society today seem to think that they can blow a gasket and it doesn't hurt anyone. Well, that isn't true.

DO NOT SAY OR DO UNKIND THINGS! Even in play. It isn't funny. Calling names, saying hurtful things, is NOT joking, is not humor. It breaks down relationships, it causes hurt feelings, it separates people. It is so sad to see siblings setting out to hurt each other, or thinking that physical violence (or even inconsiderateness) is acceptable or a joke. It isn't and breaks down the family unit. Who wants to live in that kind of chaos? That should never be heard in the home or in the family unit. It is totally unacceptable and should be treated as such. There is nothing sadder than seeing siblings who don't seem to decide to be kind to each other. That is not respectful, teaches how they will interact with their own families-to-come, is just wrong and parents must not tolerate it. If someone does this, there must be a way to pay back for the misbehavior. Scolding is not enough, kindness must be acted out. Pain must be alleviated. I fully EXPECT my children to be kind and respectful to each other - that is how I want them to treat others and the people we love the most (our family) certainly should be treated better than strangers!!!!! If you hurt someone, you will make it up to them and just the word "sorry" is RARELY enough. Actions carry a message much better.

The worst gifts I can give my children are physical things. The best gifts are the gifts of belonging, being loved, being valued, being needed, being productive, being responsible, being helpful, and being who God has made them to be.

Activities are not the answer, enjoyment and family cohesiveness is. Learning give and take. Learning to treasure each other. Learning appropriate behavior. Learning respect. Learning to be a grown up. Learning that families are the safest place, where we can trust that we are each looking out for each other, that we will treat each other with respect, that we will live in kindness. Activities should involve everyone, not separate the family unit. We can all contribute - I can even contribute to soccer (I am not athletic anymore) by helping the coaches, the other families, entertaining the other younger kids spectators, etc. I can contribute to my husband's and kids' musical gifts by helping backstage, with productions, with set up, with other families, with getting music ready for them (if they ask), by helping to allow us all to enjoy the music, to teach us all to value and respect each other's gifts. Simply by being involved, finding a way for us all to be involved. That teaches respect, value, and love.



Hezra said...

This is amazingly well written. We are kindred spirits... I get compliments on kids behavior too, but then at home think-- what?? they are rowdy regular kids!! (right now MY boys are sword-fighting with plastic swords!) I am looking forward to getting our two new girls home to have MORE girls than boys ;-) what is my luck

Hezra said...

oops pushed send too fast. What is my luck the girls will like this and jousting as well?? lol