"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give aan account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden..."
Hebrews 13:17 NIV
As God's children, we must model in our relationship to Him the same behaviors we would like our children to display toward us. As parents, we should:
- Submit to authority without rebellion
- Apologize if needed.
- Do everything without complaining
- Work on skills and character (theirs and ours)
- Work ourselves out of a job!
...There are some basic principles that must be understood, a foundation upon which the methods or kideas in the how-to sections of this book must be built. These include:
- Have realistic and age appropriate expectations
- Establish rules or standards.
- Have a working knowledge of family discipline.
- Tie strings to [your children's] hearts
Still, I know my mom was frustrated at times that we'd walk by piles of clothes sitting on the steps as if we didn't see that they were ours and that we didn't always get those few things she asked of us done without complaining. So, if my mom, who had to work, doesn't have all the answers, and she is my best friend and most trusted teacher, then to whom do I go when I want to find out how to get my children to be a bit more responsive and cooperative in a GENUINE way than my brother and I were?
Well, one place you can go is Everyday Homemaking, a site established by Vicki Bentley, a veteran homeschooling mom who writes about homeschooling, homemaking, and home organization and discipline. I was pleased to have a chance to read her book about helping your children learn to be better contributors to your family by teaching them what is expected of them, then holding them accountable for those things. One valuable idea I read was something I've encountered often as a parent, and that is the need to clarify the difference between God's rules (which are unwavering) and our house rules (which can be respectfully appealed when appropriate).
I also appreciated the reminder to just say "yes" whenever possible. It's true sometimes that as moms who are often repeatedly beseiged with requests by small children, we sometimes start saying "no" just for the sake of convenience or out of habit. The truth is though that we can use those moments of requests to teach our children to accept responsibility by putting the achievement of whatever it is they wanted back upon their shoulders. "Yes, you may jump on the trampoline as soon as you pick up the sticks that fell off of the trees after last night's storm." "Yes, you may invite your friends over tomorrow for the Bookmobile if your room is clean and all of your week's school work is done by dinnertime tonight." "Sure, you may play playdoh after you finish your printing and counting papers." "No problem. You may watch Misty of Chincoteague as soon as you go out and brush Honey and Rosie and lead them around the pasture a few times each." The idea is just so good that I can go on and on about it. I know I have used it in the past, but it's something I tend to forget in the momentary urge to say, "NO! No more messy Playdoh out EVER!" It was a good reminder.
The best reminder of all in the book, however, was that children like rules. They prefer if you set the standards and they know what to expect. They also like routines. It provides structure that they need. Be honest with yourself...you benefit from it, too. So I read Vicki's ideas about setting up a chore system and I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with the idea of me having to be the "slave driver" so to speak.
With my headaches, I am not so good at sticking to a set schedule. I never know when I will wake up with a headache and feel miserable, BUT I promised to give it a try and so I wrote out what the most important tasks to be accomplised were, just as Vicki suggested, and it really didn't amount to a lot. I will be honest and say that I started out simply...with four little ones ages 3-8, there's only so much I can hand out to them to do, or so I thought.
but kids are quick learners, and once mine realized that instead of a constant "Hey, it's messy...we need to pick up" coming from me they got a set routine of when things had to be clean and when there was a litle leeway to "get creative," then they completely got on board with the idea of a schedule. Even Tex, eventually, though as my only teenager at home, and my usually biggest helper, he was the least appreciative of the new routine. It sort of cramped his freeflowing style, but he adjusted.
and now we are in the middle of our amazing home makeover so you know there is no routine possible with that, BUT I am completely sold on the idea of the routine and the sharing of the weekly/montly jobs. I printed my job labels and can't wait to get my laminator out to make a chart so once this makeover is through, we can faithfully maintain the wonderful organization and newness of our made-over house...so now we can go from everyday mess making to everyday homemaking.
You can purchase the Everyday Family Chore System for only $19.95. You can also purchase a companion one hour audio cd for an additional $6 about Getting Kids to Help at Home. There is a downloadable version available, but it is only a two dollars cheaper and personally, I'd rather have the print version, but you may prefer the instant download.
To see what others on the Molly Review Crew had to say about the Everyday Family Chore System, check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog for more reviews about this product and others by the talented and wise Vicki Bentley.