Welcome to part two! Last week I shared the top five things I stopped doing that
helped me step down and saved me minutes. Today I’m sharing the top five things I started doing that helped our kids step up, and taught me big lessons.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list, and if you have done other things that have helped your kiddos step up, please share!
*Disclaimer: Yes—just like last week, I still struggle with every one of these. Slow progress is better than no progress, right?
1. I started letting them go out without a coat.
“Don’t forget your coat!” This innocent parental advice is all good when kids are learning coats prevent coldness. But I cringed when I recently heard a mother tell her 20 year-old “child” the same thing.
One of the first times I let our oldest go without a coat was harder than I thought it would be; he was about ten, and the mama bear in me wanted to protect him. Nothing wrong with that. But I realized if I kept taking his coat for him I would be severely delaying the time when he would learn to make that decision on his own.
These days our kids will still leave their coats at home even when they know it might be cold. Do you know how exciting it is to watch them occasionally run out the door with a coat though? Exciting enough to make me forget mine.
2. I started letting them write their own thank you notes.
If you don’t write thank you notes at your house, no guilt; just skip this one. For those of you who do, I highly encourage you to let the idea of the perfect note go right into your round file. Grandparents do not care if words are speled rong—they think they’re cute! My parents said they actually like those kind more than the perfect ones because it gets them chuckling.
Chuckling. That’s a fun word.
Confession: I wanted our kids’ notes to look pretty close to perfect so I would look like a good mom who taught them how to spell. I was trying to be helpful; I now realize it was pride. Making too many corrections was deflating them and made them hate note writing.
You should see the looks on their faces now when they’re done and all they get is praise. I’m not praising them for bad spelling, crooked lines and run-on sentences; I’m praising them for writing a thank you note… all by themselves.
3. I started letting them use a sharp knife.
I know this cuts against our parental grain, but hear me out. The age when most kids want to help in the kitchen is pretty young—usually between two and four. Obviously too young to be cutting with sharp knives, but letting them help with simple things when they’re little will (hopefully) keep them in the kitchen when they’re older.
When our kids were about six or seven I let them start to help me cut soft things like butter or bananas. Most kids know knives are the big no-no in the kitchen, so getting to finally use one makes them feel like big kids. Of course all of this is done with full supervision and not ever when I’m in a hurry.
It’s so nice to be able to give older kids a bunch of veggies and have them go for it. Think of them as mini sous chefs and remember how much time they can save you! And if your hopes of perfect carrot sticks turn into long rifles… roll with it.
4. I started reading when their mouths were full.
I love the idea of everyone sitting together while Dad reads from the Bible; unfortunately family devotions never caught on in our home. (We probably should have started when they were young enough to not roll their eyes.) Regardless, I knew we needed an alternative.
So I started reading to them during breakfast. It’s only a 5-10 minute process, the content is super engaging, and they don’t interrupt because they’re chewing. Glorious.
This may not appear to be helping them step up right now, but we pray the habit of a devotional/quiet time will carry over into their teenage and adult lives. Starting around age six and going through the teen years, here’s a list I put together of Devo Books.
5. I started letting them choose their own movies.
This one is for the rad teens in your life. When our son was 12 he assumed his 13th birthday meant he got to watch all PG-13 movies. Poor guy.
Instead my husband had the idea to let him start making his own decisions with a little help from us. Once he leaves home we won’t have any say in what he watches, and we agree it’s a good idea to help him learn how to choose wisely now as a young teenager.
So when he hears about a PG-13 movie he wants to watch, he first has to read the review from a reputable site. Our favorite is pluggedin.com, but there are other great ones, too. The high action or small amounts of violence don’t bother him. More often than not, as soon as he has to read the section about extensive language and sexual content, he’s turned off. Plus it’s awkward to talk to your mom about those scenes, so it pretty much takes care of itself.
The few times he has watched things I did not approve of were good lessons for both of us: he didn’t enjoy them, and I realized he is probably not going to turn into the character on the screen.
Have you started doing anything that has made a difference in your parenting style or your child’s behavior? Please share! Most of us are overly tired and have a hard time thinking past our own regular set of rules. Your experience could be the creativity others need!
Aww, come on. You know you want to….