This evening we had some great discussions about the importance of teaching children responsible behavior. The goals Chad and I came away with were inspired in part by this lesson. One was this: we have made a pact that we will not watch any TV before 8:30pm. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but we've been known to be in a rush to get the kids in bed by 8 because a favorite show was on. No longer. Shows are aired online, and they can wait. This way we can get a more favorable routine going with Chad reading to the boys before bed, and myself reading to the girls. One great addition to the bedtime routine. And Chad has had some very meaningful discussions with the boys about different subjects when they have his undivided attention (and vice versa) at bedtime.
I'll share with you a couple of powerful paragraphs from our manual (which, by the way, is entitled "Strengthening the Family" distributed by LDS Family Services).
Many parents tend to overindulge their children and shield them from the responsibilities they once had to go through--experiences that helped them become capable adults. When parents dole out goods and services for their children while requiring little in return, their children lose the motivation to become self-reliant and responsible. Instead, they tend to become lazy, selfish, and self-indulgent. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: "Those who do too much for their children will soon find they can do nothing with their children."
Teach your children to work alongside you, starting when they are young and have a natural desire to help. Assign your children routine chores according to their abilities. Family work activities can become daily rituals of family love and belonging.
Teach your children to serve others. Elder Derek A. Cuthbert of the Seventy taught, "Wise parents will provide service opportunities in the home for their children from and early age." Teach them to do their best and to try again if they fail.
Yesterday being Saturday, we had a list of chores for the kids to do. Well, Ella fell asleep on the couch before we could engage her, so Chad took Colin and I took Micah. I understand the importance of working alongside your child. I know it will pay dividends in the future. Well, Micah and I were working on one of the bathrooms and I'm feeling a little antsy, like I want to be done with it and move on. But Micah was just scrubbing around the bottom of the toilet (the yuckiest place on the toilet--if you have boys, you know!), just singing a song to himself and chatting with me. I had to stop myself and realize what a precious moment that was. Micah was doing hard work and enjoying himself! And we were building a good memory. And he was learning how to do a job well. What a satisfying feeling.
Our instructor, Jackie, said that she and her husband made a rule a long time ago: no gifts are to be bought for them on birthdays, Christmases, or Mother's/Father's days. (Keep in mind they have 9 children!) Instead, they requested that their children either do a service for them or use money they would have spent on a gift by helping out someone who would benefit from it. They said the gifts have been varied and wonderful: a car cleaned and washed for dad, a promise to attend the temple weekly for 1 year, a digital version from a poorly taped copy of their grandmother's funeral, etc. How wonderful is that?
They are firm believers in charts. Jackie said you can take any undesirable behavior and make a chart to eliminate it. I'm making a chart for Ella to help her stay dry all day. I'm going to have to really focus my efforts on getting her to the bathroom every 2 hours, let her put a sticker on her chart, and after she gets them all completed, she gets to have the most awesome (most likely Barbie) toy she picks out from Toys R Us.
I'll let you know how it goes with the pre-8:30 TV ban, and keeping Ella dry. Wish me luck.