Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sharing Childhood Part 2


Yesterday, I was thinking about childhood. My own and my children's. This morning, I was visiting some of my favorite blogs and was delighted to find this post by one of my all time favorite bloggers, Sandra.

Did you go read it ?

Go on ... I'll wait.

You're back ? Good.

Sandra asked this question of her readers:

"Are you planning on teaching your daughters everything you know, or do you want to leave it up to them whether they want to learn or not? "

I thought I'd answer her question here.

I am teaching my daughter everything I know ... whether she wants to learn it or not. Not only am I teaching my daughter, I am teaching my son. I've been thinking a lot about this subject lately. On a broader scale. The thought occurred to me the other day that if I don't teach my children what they need to know to be adults, how will they learn it by the time they reach adulthood ?

I see a disturbing trend happening around me in parenting circles. I am no expert but what I see is a generation of children growing up with only 'feel good' experiences. No consequences for actions or behavior. No expectation of personal responsibility. There seems to be a hesitancy for parents to allow children to experience something unpleasant that may be a natural consequence of their actions.

I'm not talking about letting your kid run in the street or jump off a roof so they 'learn their lesson.' I'm talking about saying 'no' to them, and holding fast to decisions made. I'm talking about expecting to be obeyed, and following through on consequences when not.

I'm talking about children having (age appropriate) responsibilities around the house. I read a book when Jono was a baby that made a good point ... "when babies are old enough to take toys out of their toy box, they are old enough to put the toys back in their toy box." Rory and I have lived by that ever since ... long before Jono was old enough to take toys out of his toy box !

Sure there were nights when we were tired and couldn't be bothered, but on a whole, if Jono (or Alia) played with it, they put it away ! I can honestly say that I do not pick up after my kids (who are now five and almost seven) very often. I sometimes have to remind them about something they have left in the family room, and it is usually at my suggestion that they pick up their rooms before dinner, but for the most part, they are good at keeping their things out of the public areas of the house !

They carry their own dishes to the kitchen after dinner, and then they stick around to help clear the table, put stuff away, empty and load the dish washer. We do it as a family.

They help do laundry. I wash it ... though I am thinking it may be time to teach them how to do that too. And then they hang it. I do the sheets and towels, and the big things like Rory and my jeans and shirts. But they hang their own clothes, all the undies, socks, tea towels, wash cloths. When they are dry, they fold and put away their own clothes. I do not worry about the level of 'neatness' that happens in their folding, although I must say, they do a great job. I do ask that they fold, rather than wad up in a ball. I also ask that they put their clothes in the proper drawers. I do random checks from time to time !

They make their own beds. They hang their own towels after their baths. They put their own dirty clothes in the hamper. (although Jono's have a tendency to spend some time on his floor before they get there !)

They love to help me cook and I really need to let them do that more often. They could both make pizza if I gave them the dough. They can both make sushi, once everything is chopped up. I gave Jono his first lesson at the stove the other day. Let him stir some thing. They can both use sharp knives ... ok, not SHARP knives ... but sharp for them. Small ... dull ... but they have pointy ends and they're going to do minimal damage ! The kids think they are sharp and so are learning the proper precautions !!

I hate to stop in the middle of a thought but I need to go prepare dinner. I'll pick up where I left off in my next post ...


Mari October 30, 2008 at 8:22 PM  

What a cute picture! I think Jono looks a lot like your Dad! I enjoyed that post from Sandra and your response too!

MGF October 30, 2008 at 11:02 PM  

Lovely tones. He looks so serious.

Stacy October 31, 2008 at 12:09 AM  

Oh you aren't kidding about the parents these days. So when did it become the norm for kids to get gift bags at the birthday child's party?? I don't understand it myself - they come home with stuff all the time. It is that, I don't want them to feel bad about not having something, mentality.

It's okay for kids to have to wait for things or "shocker" not get everything they want! We have the kids clear the table and help put away their laundry. We need to get better about putting away their toys when they are done playing with them, though.

Sandra October 31, 2008 at 10:30 AM  

Great post Bonnie.

I agree about teaching them everything we know, I'm not waiting to see if mine want to learn, I'm just going to make sure they do and are equipped with the skills they need to go out there on their own, if after I've done my part they decide in the future NOT to use it, then that's their choice.

Joolz October 31, 2008 at 10:39 AM  

Hi Bonnie
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Wow, you are doing a great job with your kids. I unfortunately have very lazy teenagers, K17 and B15 who think everything should be done for them. I have ranted my way thru their lives - please pick this up, please put that away - they do it begrudgingly until next time when they leave the same thing on the floor again. They wonder why I go off my head at them! It doesn't matter how many times I ask, they still grizzle.
I don't know how to make them into capable beings because at the moment they just don't seem interested. Then at the same time, they are good in school, funny, polite and they don't misbehave socially. They are good teens.
They roll their eyes when asked to set the table, clear the table, empty the dish washer etc.
Maybe it will come back to bite K17's butt next year when she goes to Uni. She's gotta wash, dry, iron her own clothes/linen. Maybe when she has to wear damp jeans, she might remember all the things I've done for her. Will that be a life lesson for her? Anyway, I keep trying - I wish I had thought of your rule - if you get it out, put it back - when they were toddlers.

Cheers - Joolz

Sabba and Nanny October 31, 2008 at 11:11 AM  

Yea and amen!

Couldn't agree more with what you wrote.

Here's a thought. You wrote. "I am teaching my daughter everything I know ... whether she wants to learn it or not. Not only am I teaching my daughter, I am teaching my son." From my experience, I would amplify your statement as follows: "I am teaching my daughter and son everything I know ... whether I know it or not."

I have found over the years that the things people credit me with teaching them were not necessarily the things I thought I was teaching them (including my children). In other words, these things were not in my "lesson plan"——they were things people observed in my life.

It's like the athlete's cliche, "I don't want to be a role model." Sorry, but you will be a role model. Your only choice is what kind of a role model you will be. Same for all of us.

Or as Mom has written on the tablet on the refrigerator, "What kind of leaven will I be?"

By the way, I love that picture of me as a child. This is the first time I've ever seen it. Love, Dad

Demara October 31, 2008 at 1:45 PM  

aw yes. this is how parenting should be! (I wouldn't mind seeing pictures of their made beds. Just to see how they do it. I'm curious.)

Anonymous October 31, 2008 at 2:29 PM  

I'm very excited to have found your blog. What wonderful thoughts. I look forward to reading more!!!

Ellie May 12, 2009 at 7:05 AM  

I love this post.

Just another in my quest for organization. Thank you.


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