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The Thrid R

May 2, 2019

Daily Responsibilities.  That’s the Third R.  Rules, Routines, and daily Responsibilities.

There’s a lot out there on the Internet and Social Media about Snowflakes.  As an old guy, I find most of it amusing.  But some of it is heartbreaking.  Joking aside, there are many thousands of kids who never had enough daily responsibilities to get a feel for what living an adult life is like.  They were never introduced to basic responsibility, by being expected to take responsibility for even basic things.

If someone always makes your bed and does your laundry and loads and unloads the dishwasher for you, why would you ever learn how to do it for yourself?  If someone else always does the hard homework for you, and puts gas in the car when it runs low, and pays all your fees for your two dozen sports leagues, and pays your way to the movies, why would you ever do these things for yourself?  A smart kid will figure out what they do and do not have to do, and they’ll figure it out quickly.

And more seriously, if somebody will always come and rescue you from the consequences of your poor choices (everything from late homework to get-out-of-jail-free), how will you ever learn the lessons consequences are supposed to teach you?  Beyond that, why would you?!

If your parent or parents hover over you to protect you from every scrape and tumble, how will you ever learn how to recover from them?  And, again, why would you?

My great concern for the next generations isn’t that they won’t get a quality public or private education.  I have definite and strong feelings about our educational system.  Don’t get me wrong on that.  There are some glaring gaps.  But it’s not my great concern.  The childhood obesity problem isn’t even my great concern, although it’s a real problem.  What concerns me most is that so many families are producing kids who don’t know how to take responsibility for themselves and their own lives.  They’ve never been allowed to or required to learn the skills of responsible life.  They never had to.

Yikes!  I just re-read that.  It sounds like an old guy rant.  Sorry.  But, then again, not sorry.

If you’re raising a responsible kid, good on you!  If you’re doing this, I know that one of the things you’re doing is teaching them how to take care of daily responsibilities.  You may not assign the same daily responsibilities Debbie and I assigned our 3 daughters, but you’ve got to be lining them up for growth by assigning responsibilities, and then expecting them to be fulfilled.  Sometimes, beyond that, you enforce them.  With consequences.

There will always be a debate about what’s appropriate and what’s not for daily responsibilities with kids.  It’s a moving target.  Logically, it’s not the same for a 3 year old as it is for a 13 year old.  The bar moves up as kids grow.  I don’t have a chart that gives you all the things that you can reasonably expect/require your kids to do at the various stages of their growth and development.  There are so many variables involved, I don’t think anybody is smart enough to build a chart that will handle all of them.  And if they did, I’d be worn out before I got through it. Instead of a complicated chart, here’s what worked for me as a Dad, as a Youth Minister, as a Pastor and a counselor: DON’T DO FOR THEM WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR THEMSELVES.

How do you know what they can do?  You become a student of your kid(s).  You study them.  You observe them.  And you study what’s out there about kids in the ages and stages of your kid(s)’ development.  Here’s a good article from a trusted source (Focus on the Family) with some good advice on specific things at specific ages:

Let your kids help you decide what they can and can’t do by giving them a chance to fail once in a while.  And when they fail, you don’t punish them, you teach them.  That may mean you teach them a better way to do it, or it may mean you back off and don’t expect that particular task until later.  But don’t back off too quickly.  Sometimes kids are smart enough to know that if they fail at something they don’t really want to do, they’ll get a hall pass on it.  Ask God to give you wisdom (He promises to do this in James 1:5), and discern whether they really can’t do it yet, or if they just don’t want to do it.

Going into this with an experimental attitude will help you.  Both you and your kids will discover what they can and can’t do by experimentation.  So give yourself and them the freedom to experiment with this.

Guide, lead, sometimes herd your kids into patterns of growth and development that will give them the basic tools they need for their life.  One huge one is learning how to take responsibility for their lives.  Daily responsibility is the best way I know of to get the process started.

From → Marriage, Parenting

  1. Dureen permalink

    I’ve been using these with our granddaughter as a devotional and it has provided for some great discussions. Thanks, Steve.

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