Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? ….. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.
Ah, foundation. It’s not just an undergarment. It’s what parents need to build beneath their children to help them become responsible adults.
Like when my son was in middle school and he and his best friend were hanging out at my house and said they wanted to bake a giant chocolate chip cookie. You know, the kind you get for someone’s birthday that’s decorated like a cake. They claimed they knew how to do it. Really? I was skeptical. I pictured a mutant, unappetizing cookie coming out of the oven and a kitchen that looked like the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald after they were done.
But I let them do it. Why? A few reasons.
- They were of age to use the kitchen (about 13).
- I was home to supervise if need be (I was available at the time).
- I knew what kind of kids they were (they would live up to their promise to clean up when they finished their creation).
- And I truly felt that it was my job to give them the confidence to bake a giant chocolate chip cookie (this took a little bit of faith).
- I had also been on a diet for a week and really wanted a cookie.
So they baked the cookie. Guess what? It came out chewy, gooey, and delicious. And my kitchen didn’t look too bad either.
So how does one lay a foundation for promoting responsibility in kids? Here are a few ways:
- Consider the child’s age – know what a child is capable of at what age.
- Hold them to their word –promotes trustworthiness.
- Act as an advisor – provide support and help if the going gets tough.
- Give them some rope – takes courage on the parents’ part but promotes self-reliance.
- Know your child – each one is unique in what their skills are.
- Make some reasonable rules – a kid needs to know he’s got duties to be responsible for.
And remember, it takes time to build any type of foundation. Use the adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” when teaching responsibility. And like a marathoner, make sure you get enough calories. Chocolate chip cookies could help!By Claire Gawinowicz, Certified Parenting Educator