I am at the upper end of being a millennial and my daughter is just shy of being one. Too often I hear that millennials are lazy and irresponsible. That is not the legacy neither of us want to leave behind. This belief has gotten so strong that many articles have been written on how to make your child more responsible. I am proud to say that my daughter is a responsible fourteen year old. Whether I can credit myself for instilling these ethics or my daughters own tenacity, I do feel that there were five key things that I will continue to do with her little sister in hopes she earns the same work ethic.
#1 Give Daily Chores
I have been astounded by the many parents who have said to me, "that's a lot of chores for a ____ year old." Honestly, it takes her anywhere between fifteen minutes to a half hour to complete her chores. Whether your child is five or eighteen, I do not think that fifteen minutes of chores is too much. They have a lifetime of responsibilities ahead of them, and they need to learn while they are young what it takes to have a successful household.
Having had many foster kids in my house, I have had several babysitters throughout the years. I have been astounded at the number of teenagers who were unable to make macaroni and cheese. It is because of this that it does not surprise me the number of kids dropping out of college and living back at home.
Our household did not stop with daily chores, she was also expected to do weekly chores, such as take the garbage to the road every Tuesday and give the dogs a bath on Friday.
#2 Encourage Volunteer Opportunities
While chores help one understand how a house is run, it is important for children to understand how our actions or inactions affect others. Although I wish I had started this earlier, in the past four years I have encouraged my daughter to volunteer her time. Whether it be helping out in the church's nursery, folding clothes for a pregnancy resource center, or hauling hay and poo for a horse farm that works with special needs children, she knows that there are a lot of needs around the world, not just in our own home. Some places that rely on volunteers are:
#3 Allow Your Child to Fail
In our society today, we often think we are helping our children by protecting them from being hurt even when the pain is from their own failure. It's important for kids to have consequences. Not just the parental consequences, such as sending them to their room for talking back or hitting their brother, but also the natural ones.
If your child forgets their homework/instrument/lunch/etc at home, having them suffer the consequence will help them remember better. Now, this is not to say, not showing them grace. The first time they forget something, if you are capable, it is okay to bring it to them. Then after that let them know, I brought it to you this time; next time you are going to have to go without. Don't forget.
#4 Work as a Family
The best way to teach a child is by your personal example. Not just showing them that you go to work everyday or you clean the house everyday, but by encouraging them to work along side you. How that looks in our family is my daughter will work on our business with us. She has done data entry and she has also done the heavy lifting of trash removal. We own a few businesses, two of which are Junk King and House Today Homes Tomorrow.
Another way we work as a family is through volunteer efforts. My daughter is expected to help me when I volunteer in children's church at our church. She has folded clothes while I mentored woman at the local pregnancy resource center.
We also spring cleanup together, which includes picking up sticks, weeding gardens, pruning hedges. We will haul wood and stack it preparing for our wood stove together.
#5 Teach Them the Importance of Personal Growth
Teaching them personal development is an often overlooked area, not only in our children's lives, but our own. This does include reading the bible for our family, but even more than that we encourage (and at times expect) her to read books that will help her to grow as a human being. Some books that we felt have been great for this area have included (Disclaimer: Affiliate Links):
By getting them reading these books when they are young, are going to cause them to continue to read them when they are older, and striving for personal excellence. It is proven that people who read, especially personal development books are more successful in their life.
Our culture has become lazy in teaching our children responsibility due to fear of making our kids uncomfortable. It is important that they are prepared for adulthood long before they get there; otherwise, they will experience a lot of discomfort and experience much more failure as they learn these lessons the hard way as adults.
After six years of infertility, she was blessed with the adoption of her oldest daughter who now is a teenager. Six years later, she finally became a mother a second time, this time with a baby through a donated egg and ivf. Throughout that time, she fostered nine babies and toddlers, met wonderful women who helped her grow, and learned to rely on Jesus. She started this blog with the hope that she could share her joy, experience, and willingness to grow with others, whether they battle infertility, toddlers, or teens.