I have two girls. They provide constant blog fodder. For the most part, they are okay with that. I even run certain posts by them for approval – after all, it is their story as much as it is mine.
As a parent, we get to help write the stories of our children. The ebb and flow of day-to-day becoming the chapters of their lives through experience and exposure to the world around them.
About a year ago, I wrote a post here called Raising Responsible Citizens. Raising children who are globally aware and are understanding of the need to make a difference in the world is something that is very dear to my heart. It makes me proud to say that my girls have an awareness of the plight of others and the need to be involved. They know the positivity their actions can achieve in bringing change and that their voices can indeed be heard around the world.
This post is a chapter in that book of life on responsibility…because responsibility is a funny thing. We can teach our children about the world and its people, we can teach them laws and rights, and we start when they are just toddlers with the basics of what is right and what is wrong. But what about basic responsibility…let me clarify.
Responsibilities within a family come in many forms. For instance, chores should not be a choice. I don’t believe we should pay our children to do them. I don’t think that they should be a trade-off for reward. Yes, I know some of you have had to sit down, or have done the head shake and do not agree with me. And that is okay, we all know what works for us in our families. This works in mine.
Turning up the music and having a two hour cleaning frenzy with my girls is not uncommon. My oldest will bathe the dog, mow a lawn and clean bathrooms. The youngest will brush cats, wipe down windows and is the Queen of The Clean Baseboards. Do they love to do these things? They are kids – of course not. But they do them anyway – because we all have to muck in together.
Yesterday we had one of those manic cleaning mornings and then we went out in the heat and the rain, yes, a Floridian Summer, to purchase plants for redoing a front flowerbed. The girls made a point of sharing with the checkout lady that we were probably the only people in our Boca community that did yard work and that the neighbors probably found us strange. The lady smiled at me, she nodded in agreement and shared with them the chores she set aside for her daughters because ‘we all gotta do our part’. Wiki gave it a bit of an eye roll, but just in fun, and then they negotiated ice cream for the drive home.
Just before we hit the plant store, we had shared lunch. Over our pizza we had talked about Nelson Mandela in the hospital and how he stood up for what he believed in. We talked about the filibuster in Texas this week which was paramount for women’s rights. We even touched on slavery in the U.S., a difficult topic for me as the adoptive white mother of an African-American child. We garnered the attention of the table next to us with what was probably not your average family day out discussions. But my girls knew I was listening to them, that their voices were being heard…there was no rush, not on the clock, just soaking them in and as I wrote about here before, living in the moment.
After arriving home to yet another summer storm, we stood side-by-side in the kitchen. We sauteed and grilled, preparing dinner for a movie night in pajamas. The movie the girls chose was Parental Guidance, with a fab cast of some of my fave people. Bette Midler even does a little singing, omgosh, love her. There is much that I could write about this great movie and family relationships as they pertain to our lives, but for another day.
One scene in the movie hit home with the messages we give children about owning their behaviour and responsibilities today. Everyone is a winner, everything is a negotiation, words should be sugarcoated and kids have the final say in their choices and then Billy Crystal’s character simply said, ‘No’. The audience cheered. And my girls ‘got it’.
In between the canned laughter, the hilarity of the situation and the absurdity of his action, they understood the underlying message of the scene. They know their responsibilities in this world, they may not always like them…but they step up to the plate none the less. With or without the promise of ice cream.
How do you teach your child(ren) about responsibility?
And as always,