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Doing it themselves

 

I think one of the most important tasks for any parent is to know when to let kids do it themselves.

Sometimes our children really do need our help, of course, because the task is simply too difficult or too dangerous for them, but often we are tempted to do things for them that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves.  It's simpler, faster, and far less messy just to get the job done without them.

The problem is that by doing it all ourselves, we train our kids not to take responsibility, and we prevent them from learning how to do things on their own. I hear people complain all the time about how young adults no longer know how to do basic things, can't take responsibility for themselves, can't transition easily to their own homes, and I can't help but think that this is a situation created by parents doing too much for their children.

So the next time you start cooking supper, let your kids help, even if it means there's more mess to clean up afterwards. In fact, get them to help clean up too. Have them help you sort the laundry, or put it away, or even run it through the washer, depending on how old they are. Let them help you patch a pair of pants, change the oil in your car, do up a grocery list, plan a budget, and all the other things they'll need to know when you're not around to do everything for them anymore.

It might take longer, and it might get messier, and you might need to exercise a bit more patience, but your kids will be better for it, and you'll be surprised what they can do all by themselves.

Luke is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged nine, seven, and three.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.  He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.