I admit, I'm extremely flattered when people compliment my husband and I on our parenting skills because even though we question ourselves frequently we know that, somehow, we did something right. We're often asked how we raise our kids and the real answer is we don’t have a specific formula...we just learned along the years by trial & error and by observing other parenting styles we admire and try to put our own spin on it.
Before you proceed in reading this entry, I will state again that I am NOT an expert but I encourage you to stay and check out our tips on raising a self-sufficient child and, hopefully, our tips can help you with your children in some way...
1. Assigning Chores
We fully believe that giving our youngsters chores gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership. I've had interactions with kids nowadays who say they literally do NOTHING and aren't expected to. This might be a recipe for disaster (okay that statement might be a little dramatic), but giving them nothing to do to contribute to the household could seriously affect them when they start living on their own.
We highly recommend chores for the kids. We feel like this will prep and motivate them to not only work hard, but to contribute to society in some way.
2. Let them work for what they want
We believe in delayed gratification. Yes, we put our kids to work - plain and simple. Before any of our kids can watch YouTube, play video games, hang out with friends, we ask that they finish a task beforehand that contributes to their own well-being (i.e. homework or practicing one of their instruments) or something that helps mom or dad (for example, helping one of us run errands). No matter how much they beg to do any of these mundane tasks AFTER wanting to do something they want, we never budge. It’s amazing how many people give in to their kid’s demands just to stop their whining. I will say this...kids KNOW how to play you. "Man up" and show them who's boss! ;-P
3. Maintaining their OWN Rooms
As long as we give them some responsibility in their own rooms, we feel that they’ll take pride in taking care of their own household when they’re grown. This is just our theory - and we could very well be wrong - but we're sure we’ll find out in the future!
4. Letting them Fight their OWN Battles
Of course, if you see them struggle, and I mean REALLY struggle (there's a bullying situation in your hands, for example), then, by all means, it's okay to step in because a little back up is needed once in a while. In other situations, try and leave them be.
5. Activities are a MUST
We feel that dealing with people in a team setting or the general public will give our kids a sense of camaraderie, learn to take direction, experience working with different temperaments, develop personal enrichment, and gain confidence in their abilities.
6. Ask Questions
Here is a quick and cute story...when my 16 year old was about 7, we had just crossed over from Canada and did some shopping at a premium outlet here in Washington not too far from the border. We gave him money to wait in line to buy shoes and when it was his turn, he casually asked the cashier if they took American money. Of course the cashier laughed and told the other cashiers...they thought it was the cutest thing. My son, however, was oblivious and he didn't even hesitate to ask when most would think it was a "stupid" question!
Heck we all say/ask seemingly stupid things but this is how we learn - think of our children and their innocence - any questions they have is critical to their development and the last thing they need is someone making them feel like idiots. As a former boss of mine once said, "People don’t know what they don’t know." Sometimes it’s best to look foolish (by inquiring) than act like a know-it-all. Asking questions teaches our kids initiative and resourcefulness by being proactive in learning what they can to get by. As I always say, we never stop learning!
7. Expose them to All types of People
8. Give them a Sense of Freedom
This last tip can either be seen as a hard YAY or a hard NAY. I admit, this is something I grapple with but getting better at. We are somewhere in between as far as how lenient and how strict we are when it comes to our children's freedom. Before letting our kids go out with their friends (or by even just going out by themselves), we often talk to them about how our actions affect how others see us, making first impressions, dealing with the consequences of their decisions, being considerate of other people, etc. Of course, our kids are hearing what we’re saying but the real test is whether they’ll actually take our advice...how will they behave when we're not there? Sometimes their peers' words take precedence over ours. Lots to worry about but learning to trust them takes time. Luckily, we've heard mostly good things but there were some incidences where it wasn't all too great and, with that, came some consequences. We can only hope our kids learn from any mistakes they’ve made, correct their situation, and avoid a similar one from happening again.
Like I said before, I still have trouble letting go but I know it's something us parents have to do. I would rather let them go out and be open to talking with us than sneak around (like I did - shhhh) and have them lie to us.
I'm not going to sit here and act like we have perfect kids - because we don't - but I will say they are aware of themselves and are confident in the sense that they know they are self-reliant and can mingle with just about anyone. The relationships they’ve formed with others seems pretty solid - at least for the most part. They do things around the house sometimes without being told. They can fix their own meals by cooking rice or a simple breakfast if my husband and I won't be able to.
We have started to come to the point where we don't think they'll be relying on a woman or man to pick up after them. Everything will be okay and the hard job we have as parents will be well worth it.