My 3 boys are 5,4 and 1 and I am in the trenches of the exhausting and overwhelming little years. When 9 o’clock rolls around my head is ready to hit the pillow, though I never make it to bed that early.
You know what is really exhausting? Giving these little men chores and making sure they follow through. It takes more time and energy to make sure they follow through than it would take for me to just do it myself. But you know why we do it? Because now is the time to teach them responsibility. Our boys excluding the 1 year old, each have age appropriate chores.
Each morning they have to make their bed and get ready for the day before they can eat breakfast. Once they come down then it’s time for them to empty the dishwasher. After eating their meals they ask to be excused and take their plates to the sink. Sometimes they even help with the laundry and take out the trash.
My boys don’t always want to do their chores, but we teach them that doing their chores is making a choice to serve your family above your own immediate desires. There is always something else they would rather be doing. Being responsible is sometimes sacrificial.
Giving your children chores in the little years or at any age will help teach them to become responsible adults. It also teaches them to serve others.
What are some ways you can teach your little ones responsibility through giving them chores?
Give your children age appropriate chores. Check out the post earlier this week where our organizational guru, Becky Barnfather, showcased several lists of chores for boys categorized by age!
Make sure your little ones follow through with their chores.
Teach your children that every job they do, do it as to the Lord and not for man.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Colossians 3:23
Chores make up a very small portion of my boys’ day. Most of our day is spent playing and spending time together. You do not need to be dogmatic with your children’s chores for this to be effective, instead treat them as you would want to be treated at your job and the ability to use chores as a learning tool will go far.
It’s important that we instill values and hard work into our children in order for them to grow responsibly and independent. After all, it’s our job to raise independent children. I am a big advocate of teaching kids responsibly with chores. They need to know that our home is their home and we all need to pitch in and help with helping our home run!
I’ve come up with a list of age appropriate chores to give you some ideas of what chores kids can do at any age:
Ages 1-2 Years Old:
Put toys away in bin (with Mom’s help)
Wipe: Just give a damp rag and a table and them go at it
When my first-born son was little, I never imagined the day would come where he’d be all grown up and his life would be his own. The nights rocking him, the days volunteering in his first grade classroom, and the countless nights driving him home from worship band practice never prepared me for this—a season I’m finding to be much harder than I realized.
I’m aware that the decisions he makes now, at nineteen, have far greater consequences than they did years ago. Years ago the decisions were small—what sport to do, what project to complete, which friend to call–but life has upped the ante. It’s no longer my job to tell him what to do, or impose rules and create consequences reinforcing responsibility. My role has shifted and instead I’m left to wonder, watch, and wait—to walk beside him, not ahead of him—and suggest the way to go only when he asks.
This reflective perspective has me pondering my parenting choices for my younger kids and longing to refine them.
We know by our experience, and we do what we know.
I’m longing to do what I know—to optimize my decisions now so my kids will optimize their decisions later.
In case you’re in the throes of baby and toddler care, or perhaps like me, still spinning in the whirl that is the school years, I humbly offer 5 ways I’m aiming to empower my boys for this adulthood, because whether it feels like it amidst these daily days or not, an adult season is coming sooner than we realize.
5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids
1. Patiently let them learn to do for themselves
Oh how we miss the mark on this one. How many times do we pick up their things, make their peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, or just tell them the answer to their homework problem. Doing so is often faster, more efficient, and reaps a better result—for me. Unfortunately though, it creates children who are at best, somewhat dependent and inefficient, and at worst, ill-equipped, entitled, and lazy. May we harness our patience in these moments and let our kids learn to do things for themselves more than ever. Independence comes with practice, and stripping them of that practice fails to bring the qualities they’ll need for the future, even though it seems easier now.
2. Allow them to learn to fail
There is no way around it, learning to lose is hard, unavoidable, and none of us like to fail. It’s hurtful, humiliating and down right painful, but most often, pain is our best teacher and learning to lose can be more important than learning to win. Anyone can learn to win, but it is failure that helps us get over ourselves, cultivate humility and empathy, love more deeply, and appreciate what we have so much more.
3. Embrace consequences as the most loving choice
I am often tempted to give grace, so much grace. And many of us overlook too many offenses or even swoop in and try to save our kids from pain. While doing this in the short term can feel loving, in the long term it causes adults who grow to believe they should never experience consequences anywhere in their lives. Excessive permissiveness is an inaccurate portrayal of the real world. Instead, allowing natural consequences, in the context of the safety net of our love, will help our kids handle the inevitable natural consequences adulthood will bring.
4. Give them weekly home responsibilities for work
When we provide responsibilities for our kids at home they develop more ownership and become more invested as part of the family team. Working together with others and cooperating for a common benefit are essential life skills that help kids have a greater gratitude when something is done for them.
5. Extend at least three physical touches every day
From the very first moments we hold our children, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of our touch and to continue to value it. Every day may we hug them, hold hands with them, rub their backs, massage their feet, or scratch their head. May we touch them frequently and consistently, and even more so the taller they are.
We know by our experience, and we do what we know.
And this experience of affection between a mom and her son sets the foundation for his future relationships, and can be one of the greatest gifts we can give. With the experience of physical connection, our sons feel affirmed and empowered, and touch becomes second nature to them–with the potential for it to become a natural part of their role as husbands and fathers one day. And what an amazing gift for them to offer to those they love.
Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay
Parenting the Whole Hearted Child, by Jeannie Cunnion
When I had my first born, I was a parenting-book junkie. I wanted to learn it all and do it all correctly. I highlighted and took notes. I loved to imagine what it would be like to mold and shape my little boy into a young man.
I’ll never forget stopping in my tracks when I read somewhere that my real job, from the time my son was little, was to train him to be independent–to quite literally not need me one day.
I understood the concept, but I didn’t want to. I put the book down and snuggled my helpless infant in my arms for a few more minutes.
Today that infant is fifteen and quite capable. And as much as it hurts to imagine him not being a daily part of my household, I realize that time is coming–and it will be good.
I think it helped to have those seeds planted in my heart from the very beginning. Somehow, over time, I think we have walked a very natural pathway from dependency, to a place where my son will be equipped and even excited (sniff sniff) to spread his wings in a couple of years.
We have given all four of our boys increasing independence as they have matured. They have had age-appropriate responsibilities, as well as opportunities to make choices (and live with consequences.)
One thing I have been practicing (and quite enjoying) is giving our teenage boys intentional opportunities to grow in “resourcefulness.” Though it takes a bit of training (and releasing control) on the front end, this has been a super helpful practice.
And what I’ve found: A resourceful son is a rewarding son. My boys help me out in so many ways now!
Here are just a few practical ways that I have found to nudge my boys towards independence in this area of resourcefulness.
1. Make the call! Technical issues? A package didn’t arrive on time? I show the boys how to find a customer service number, then hand them the phone! I stay near enough to help if they need it, but far enough away that I don’t make them nervous. They’ve always done great, and the person on the other line never fails to comment on how grown up they handle things if/when they find out their age.
2. Look it up. Son, meet Google. Meet Siri. Meet Wikipedia. Kids figure these resources out without a lot of help, but using them for the practical things? Yes! With a little direction (and a filter on the computer!) they can most certainly find the help they need! **Sometimes it’s hard not to jump in and interfere. Stepping back and keeping my mouth closed is the key to allowing the kids to learn!
3. Give them work! From their daily chores, to mowing the lawn and fix-it jobs, teens can learn and be so helpful. Take advantage and it’s a win-win.
4. Read the manual. When my oldest son got a new camera—the manual was the first thing he got acquainted with. And by golly—there’s all kinds of information in there! Craving a certain food? Find it on Pinterest, print recipe, and learn to cook it! So. Much. Fun.
These are just a few practical ways my teens are learning to get comfortable managing independently. I’m hoping to raise confident, resourceful men, and also to win the heart of my future daughter-in-laws!
Monica and her husband Dave are raising their four sons on the North Shore of Oahu. They home school their boys who are also surfers, skaters and basic beach boys (“groms”). Monica shares the adventure and comedy of their life, and all sorts of other things Hawaii-related at www.thegrommom.com.
Three seasons into baseball and my first born still runs from the ball, not toward the action. I’d be all right with his slow acclimation into the world of sports, only it seems every other boy on his team this spring was pursuing dreams of the Big League. Seriously! Kids his age were on travel teams already and some had private coaches to help secure their position as pitcher! My boy just wanted one of those big pixy sticks or some highly processed cheese on his nachos from the snack shack post-game.
And it’s not just sports, consider those tiger moms sending their little cubs to math camp this summer, and the kids practicing music scales for hours each day while my three sons are working on their second popsicle up in their tree-fort just south of the strawberry patch. Tendrils of snap peas growing so high, they can lean out their window and pick their own lunch.
By the time my kids roll out of bed each summer day, many of their friends are off to day camps, learning computer coding and entrepreneurial how-tos. It’s all great! It’s wonderful! The sports and the music and all the extracurricular learning opportunities are marvelous! But what if, in our mad-dash pursuit to help our children excel, we cause them to miss the extraordinary in the ordinary?
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
By William Martin
With Summer just around the bend, and everyone talking about camps and extra math practice and all the enriching day trips you can do on a dime, remember to balance it all out with plenty of lazy hours. Schedule in great gobs of long summer days embracing the ordinary.
The extraordinary will take care of itself!
Tears prick at my eyes when I think of the way I tend to push my children to be excellent at something now – at 7, 9, and 11. When I was their age my teachers considered holding me back a year in elementary school. I came early for remedial reading classes and often tell my boys how Mama rode the short bus to school. High school is when I began to blossom, and I continued to bloom both spiritually and educationally throughout my college years. When I graduated, top of my class surprisingly enough, I had a great understanding of how God made me and what He made me for!
But I certainly didn’t have any clue about anything extraordinary at 7, 9, and 11. Instead, I played, and I had neighborhood friends who made forts with me. We lit cobwebs on fire in the backyard, climbed trees, spent our allowance on nerds and starburst at the local 7-11, and rode bikes to the city pool in the summertime. Sure there was softball and soccer, musical theatre and singing lessons, and long lists of good books to read, but the miracle moments of my childhood were the ordinary ones.
As you plan your summertime dreams, let me encourage you to schedule in those long lazy days for the ordinary pleasures of childhood. And make sure to put your own extraordinary pursuits to the side for a chunk of time each day as well to enjoy their childhood with them. You’ll be glad you did!
Whether she’s with loved ones in her actual Living Room, alone in God’s Living Word, or speaking to a room full of women, Wendy Speake is inspired to share life and faith with others in creative ways. As Jeremiah had fire in his bones, she too feels compelled to share the Gospel of Jesus – she just does it with stories that probe the glorious and hurting places of life, pictures of faith lived out in her home, and recipes purposed to inspire hospitality. You can connect with her in her virtual living room — WendySpeake.com
Here at The MOB Society we are committed to equipping and encouraging parents to raise godly men. And as a community of BoyMoms, we’re learning to delight in the chaos of raising boys along the way! Click here to read more about our story and the heart behind our ministry. And to meet our co-founders Brooke and Erin and the rest of the team, click here.
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