Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Raising Children to be Self-Sufficient

David-Age 7-Pruning a pine tree

I've been thinking a while about the skills that I want to teach my children before they move out of the house.  We do a lot of read alouds in our house, mostly of classics.  The children in books like Little House on the Prairie or The Courage of Sarah Noble all seem to have one thing in common.  By the time they enter their young adult years, they are fully capable of running a household and contributing to the family work (farming, running a store, canning/baking to sell, etc).

By the time most modern children reach their young adult years, we're lucky if they can even make themselves a sandwich.  Forget about knowing how to cook dinner, clean a bathroom, grow a garden, build a shed, or a host of other important life skills.

Hence why I have made it a goal to raise my children in such a way that they are essentially self-sufficient by the time they are 12.  I read a very inspiring article by Dr. S. M. Davis a few years ago entitled What to Expect From Your Twelve Year Old  that I think every parent should read.  It addresses Jesus' life at age 12 when he was in the Temple.  It is the last time we learn anything about Jesus until he begins his ministry around age 30.  It is a glimpse into the character of Jesus and serves as a bench mark for what we should expect of our own children by that age.

I bring this up today because of a situation that happened and reminded me of the article.  I have started stepping back in small ways and expecting more from my children. Today Lizzy asked me what we were having for lunch and I told her to go make it herself.  She wanted chicken nuggets so I told her where they were and how long to cook them in the microwave.  She whined, she cried, she insisted she could not make her own chicken nuggets.  It's not like putting frozen nuggets in the microwave is a hard skill.  She finally realized I really wasn't going to help her get her food so she went and cooked it herself.

Hubby decided that this summer, David is old enough to start helping mow the lawn.  I was at a meeting when Hubby decided this, so I wasn't given the chance to say that David is too young, to wait until next summer.  Last week Hubby called me from work and asked me to have David mow the side yard.  He'd shown David how to start the mower and David had done a few rows the night before.  David went out and sure enough, he was able to mow on his own.  He had to work hard at it even with a self-propelled mower, his lines weren't exactly straight and there are strips of tall grass between his rows, but he did pretty good considering he's only 8.

Joy-Age 3-Pretending the help prune the pine trees.  In a couple y ears, maybe she'll be useful

It's easy to go through life doing for our kids.  It takes a lot more effort to train our kids to do for themselves.  It's easy to tell ourselves that they're too young to handle something, to expect little from them.  It is much harder to expect a lot from them because when we expect much, it involves a lot more training, correction, and more training on our part.  It's easy to give in to their whining and just do it ourselves.  It is harder to stand our ground until they do it on their own.  But if we want responsible, capable, self-sufficient young adults, it is necessary to take the harder path.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is great, Lisa. When it comes time to build a shed I wanna come over and learn how, too. :)