Today I started the devotion “30 ways in 30 days to strengthen your family” by Rebecca Hagelin. The author reminisced on her own childhood and the snippets of memories she had where her father allowed her to safely spread her wings.
When I was new in my career, a boss once told me during my annual review, “You’re like a loaded gun, it’s my job to help aim you properly.” I thought it odd at the time, but really it was quite a nice compliment.
This verse from Psalms reminded me of that boss and his statements. It applies well to kids as well – how can we load them up and aim them in such a way that they meet their fullest potential? That they hit the target God has set before them?
Empowering our children is such an incredible gift. It’s easy to want your children to “need” you, doing everything for them to make sure they know you love them — it DOES feel good to be needed. However, in my opinion…what a handicap for the child.
I want my children to know without a shadow of doubt that I will always be there for them…but I don’t want them to need me. Obviously it’s my responsibility to care for them…but in age appropriate ways, I want them to grow in their independence and self-reliance.
Here are some ways I’ve tried – and I’m certainly open for other suggestions! My kids are 4th grade and 6th grade – so these are all still supervised growing opportunities! Thankfully they’re also very willing to openly discuss how they have felt about their experiences — both positive and negative! (I hope it lasts longer than I expect it will!)
– My children both play sports. I will not talk to the coach about playing times or positions – but if my children are discontent with either, I will work with them on how they might respectfully approach their coach to have the conversation.
– I will not place my children’s order at a restaurant. They have always ordered for themselves, even before they could read. Looking the waiter in the eye, and proper manners are expected.
– I seldom fix their plates, set the table, clear their dishes, grab their snacks — if I do it’s because I’m doing so for a larger group. Instead, I make them well aware of what snacks are available, keeping them within reach. They know where both dirty and clean dishes belong; they may need prodding to action, but they know that they are as capable as I am at putting things in their place.
– I’ve taught them to do their laundry. This may be a bit premature age wise. However, it arose after my son got on me for not having clean clothes. His laundry basket was full to over flowing, and I reminded him that he’s perfectly capable of noticing that – and at the very least asking me nicely to wash it – but reasonably he could put it in the wash, and even start it himself. I typically do their laundry for them – but now they willingly help when asked, and they never grouch at me about it anymore!
– homework is a big one. I do not believe that elementary or even middle school grades really matter a whole lot. My kids are good students, and if that weren’t the case my perspective may change. However, if they put forth their best effort I’m not real concerned with the grade at this stage of their education. I AM concerned that (a) they’re learning HOW to think (not just memorize), and (b) they’re learning how to responsibly budget their time so that they can properly manage expectations. While I monitor their grades, I only help with homework (or even ask about it) when they broach the subject. They know homework must be done before anything else…and they have been very responsible to do so (a few privileges taken away early in ensured that). If (when?) things slip, I’ll notice and address it — but until then I’m incredibly proud at how they’re taking care of things.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Who knows, my approach may one day lead my kids to seek therapy. 🙂 What I do know – the age appropriate empowerment with boundaries that we give them have made them incredibly confident kids who other adults enjoy being around.
Proud of my kiddos.