I hope this is a recurring feature. And the feature is a Parent of a Parent – someone who has already done this. someone who has been in the trenches …. And totally forgotten what they are like. That being in the trenches and forgetting that parts of parenting suck. (Sorry, that’s how I feel some time). But the parents who have come before us remember THE important parts. Parts that are important and that we should learn from.
First guest – my father. So it will be my voice, but my fathers words. He wrote it, I’m just reading it.
There may not be 5 a.m. calls to milk cows or eggs to gather but it’s as important as ever to offer a child an age appropriate responsibility that makes a connection between the individual and the greater benefits of being inside a family.
It’s a natural development by mid-teens for them to assert some independence toward becoming the person who they will be. I’ve been there. I’ve raised 3 kids through these teenage years. It’s coming. Just know that. And what you do early on, 100% affects those sometimes tougher years. As parents you need to encourage steps toward self-discovery. Imagine you’re teenager is an astronaut; free floating in space, but of course you have built that tether (over the past 15 years) which is their lifesaver. That tether provides so much security to move away from the mother ship when they know without a doubt that at the slightest danger they can reel themselves back in – or be pulled back if needed.
We all feel more loved, more important when we are valued. And to have something of value to offer is the key to feeling loved.
This is the family unit that’s so bluntly called out in heath class. But it’s undeniably important. That phrase or understanding, “You are part of our family and that doesn’t come free.” I want to offer these ideas on how you do that.
A four year-old can be taught to fold some clothing and help organize a drawer. The parent can drop the clean laundry on the bed and emphasize that it is the child’s contribution to the family.
Find time during your busy weeks to have as many meals together as possible. First, it’s a primal bonding ritual where to gather for a meal. There’s that. Secondly and more practically, meal prep offers many opportunities to contribute. The old standard is setting the table. It becomes very visual that no one can eat until they have a plate and cutlery. In other words, thank you Susie for setting the table. If you hadn’t done it, we’d be eating from the placemats.
Children need to experience added value as a contributor to the mission of family rather than being treated as ornaments hung on the family tree. Ornamental kids often tarnish and fall off in their teen years.