Written by Doctor G

Ask for help

Not a parental strength. Definitely not an instinct of mine.

When I was in college I dated a guy for three years. I went 500 miles from home for college but he was local and we spent a lot of time at his house. He was the younger of two sons. I remember sitting at their kitchen table one day talking to his parents. During a pause in the conversation his Dad yelled upstairs to him, “Hey, go down to the basement and get me a beer!” And he did. Despite the fact that his Dad was actually closer to the basement, he stopped whatever he was doing, went downstairs to grab a beer and brought it to his father. Dr. Bennett noticed my surprise and said (with a fairly satisfied smile), “When you raise kids right, they expect to help.”

That was a bunch of years ago but the message stuck with me. Kids should expect to help.

When was the last time you were sitting at a picnic table and asked your child to throw something away for you? On the other hand, when is the last time your child handed you a piece of garbage with the expectation that you would take care of it?

We should all do for each other. Children can only learn this lesson when we give them opportunities to help us. Modelling the behavior is great, but kids and teens are self-oriented. This is a nice way of saying that they each wear an invisible shirt that says “I’m thinking about me. You’re thinking about… me.”

What feels like selfishness is good parenting. Don’t take in the groceries alone, don’t ever take out the trash again. Go ahead an interupt their hang-out time to do you a favor. Not a ten times a day, and not to the level that you would be annoyed, but don’t elevate their relaxation at the expense of your own. Let them grab you a beer!

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