In every generation, we hear the saying of grandparents, “Back in my day…”.
Our kids’ generation looks very different even from our own. With the constant and immediate connectedness that kids have today, the world is a much smaller place, that holds few secrets and wonders.
This makes me so sad on so many levels.
They have the answers, but can they solve problems?
With everything at the tip of their fingers, they think that they have the world figured out at a much younger age, and they think they know the solution to all the problems. With that being said, they are actually far less independent than we were (now I’m starting to sound REALLY old!).
With solutions at the touch of a finger, they often show far less natural initiative and responsibility too. Which is usually where we, as parents, get pissed off.
I know that it doesn’t make sense. Our role as parents is about teaching them to take that initiative, but when we watch our smart kids spend their days and nights staring at some other guy open packs of game cards or playing a video game on YouTube, I’m sorry if I can’t feel it at that moment.
Our children’s success starts with responsibility
The fact is, we need to be giving our kids more family responsibilities, then we need to step back and let them succeed (or fail). The same goes for school.
Our goal is to raise viable grownups, right? Here are 3 areas that will help them get there with exponential results:
I know that you expected this one on the list. The great thing about household chores is that they can be modified to any age. Even a 3-year-old can help around the house. It could be as simple as picking up their own toys or helping to put their clean laundry in the drawers.
With chores, the important thing is how they are presented.
We’re all in this together, and we need to work together. Helping out is part of being responsible to those around you and caring for your environment.
The skills they learn through their household chores means that they’ll know what to do when they are older and have their own place.
When my kids were learning to read, or when they had trouble with a certain subject in school, I was at their side to help them. Once they got the reading thing down though, my help with schoolwork declined.
Our kids get homework at their grade level. If the assignments are truly too difficult for them to do, it’s something to discuss with the teacher as more support may be necessary.
I am a big believer that kids will rise to the occasion and expectation. If we show them that we are on hand to help them everytime the work gets hard, they will have limited problem-solving skills going forward. They may not get the best grade in the class, but their grades will reflect what they are actually capable of, which will help us and their teachers know how best to support them.
I stand behind my kids’ teachers (even when I don’t like them!)
I am also a strong believer in the importance of standing behind my kids’ teachers. I don’t always agree with them. Hell, I don’t always like them, but that is between the grownups.
When my kids don’t do their homework, they have to deal with the consequences. I stand behind the teacher and do NOT send a note excusing my kid because he only remembered he had a project as soon as bedtime hit and devices had to be put away.
Something you should know about me – I am not a lover of homework. I feel like our kids spend so much time in school already, they should have the opportunity to unwind and actually be kids. As adults, we hate bringing work home with us. Why are kids any different? Plus, they learn so much more from playing and social interaction anyway. But enough ranting on my part.
That being said, we chose schools that give homework. We made that choice, so we stand behind the teachers that give it and the consequences that are given when one of our kids doesn’t meet his responsibilities.
3. Getting around on their own
As our kids get older and are able to go to their friends’ houses on their own steam, their world changes. There is a tremendous pride in kids when their grownups show that they trust them to go places on their own. Even if the place they’re going is only 2 blocks away.
I can still remember the first time I walked with my older sister to the bakery that was around the corner from my house. We had to cross 1 street and it was a BIG deal! I was little. My eye level was the glass case where they kept the chocolate dipped sprinkle cookies. It was perfect! My grandmother trusted us to go to the store and get a few things. They knew us there because my grandmother always brought us with her, so we always got a free cookie. Yummy! When we walked home that day, covered in chocolate, we were so happy that we got to do something to help our Bubby. Little did we know, her plan all along was to give us this great opportunity to feel like we were helpful and contributing. Her plan was a smashing success!
Public transit rocks!
Once our kids get older and they can venture further, teaching them how the bus and subway system work is like giving them a golden pass. They have to figure out how to get where they’re going and they have to pay attention to schedules. The world really opens up to them and they are able to feel like they are in control of their lives. For teens and young adults, it shows them that they can rely on themselves to get anything done. They don’t have to wait for someone to take them where they want to go.
With all these things, they may do beautifully or they may fail. They may not load the dishwasher the way you would. They may fail a homework assignment or forget to study for a test. They may get on the wrong bus and have to find a different route home.
But think of how much those failures will teach them. Probably a hell of a lot more than the successes ever will.