Did you do your chores?
“Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.”
It’s officially summer where I live, and that means millions of Atlanta parents are preparing for battle. Some are jumping right in, hoping to get it right, right from the start (for these folks, there’s only one right way to do this). Some other parents are somehow on the opposite side of the spectrum, taking a laid-back approach this year, hoping that another year of life under their kids’ belts will somehow make those kids spontaneously feed the dog, take the garbage to the curb, and put away their folded laundry (somehow I doubt this will happen).
Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum this year, please pause and remember this one, ironclad relationship rule: you are not responsible for getting your kids to do anything.
Those of you who’ve read ScreamFree Parenting have seen this idea before, and it’s at the heart of everything we teach. Why? Because any step to get someone else to do something automatically gets you off on the wrong foot. You don’t want to make your kids do the dishes; you want your kids to make themselves do the dishes. You don’t want to your kids to clean their bathroom because you reminded them; you want your kids to scrub the toilet because they reminded themselves to do it.
Now, some of you will say, “I don’t care, as long as it gets done.” Well, first of all, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you really want the power to make your kids do their chores (or their homework, or their piano practice, whatever), because undoubtedly you’ve had this thought before: “boy, I wish I didn’t have to tell ‘em every time—why can’t they just learn to do this on their own?”
Second of all, if what you wanted more than anything was to just get the chore done, then do it yourself. Or pay someone else to do it. See, if chores are just about having a clean house, then bypass the battle altogether and do what it takes to have a clean house (which may require sending your kids off to camp for the whole summer).
If, however, what you really want most is to help your kids learn to live in a community, decrease their dependence on you, and give yourself a calmer (and cleaner) home in the process, then start this summer by breathing in this truth: “I am not responsible for getting my kids to do their chores.”
So, who is? Come back tomorrow…
Peace begins with pause,