What I didn't realize is that almost all parents have one lesson at the top of their list: Responsibility.
A recent Pew Research study reveals that most parents, despite differences in ethnicity, income and politics, all want to raise a child that others can count on. Being a hard worker and helping others rounded out the top three traits we want for our children.
That's great to know, but how do we develop those skills in our children? Here are a few tips that have worked for us so far.
- Let them do it. When my son makes his own sandwich for lunch, he tells me that it tastes better. Yes, it takes him twice as long and there is a mess that he has to clean up, but he's learning to do things for himself. This is great, because I don't ever want him to call me at work during his teenage years to tell me he is hungry.
- Make it part of the routine. My son has certain tasks (getting dressed, brushing teeth, packing book bag) that he has to accomplish in the morning. Once he does those, he has free time to play before school. He learns to get himself ready, and I'm free to do my own chores in the morning.
- Involve them. Chores are a family matter. My son was super excited the first time I asked him if there was anything he needed from the grocery store. He actually thought about it for a while before telling me he thought he was low on toilet paper. I showed him where we keep the spare rolls. He takes my question seriously, which means that he is thinking about our family as a team.
- Communicate the rules clearly. This is one we need to work on in my family. We need to keep the rules consistent and clear. It's no fair to keep changing the rules of the game without letting everyone know.