At three years old: “Daddy, will you please help me?” At five years old: “Dad, I don’t need your help. I can do it all by myself.” At 15 years old: “Dad, I need your help. I don’t know how to do this!”
From the time they’re old enough to start doing things on their own, the clock starts ticking, and the time and opportunities you have to equip them for life in the real world are limited. Your job is to prepare them for life without you. Here are 3 signs you’re successfully working yourself out of a job as a parent.
1. Increased Responsibility
From the time they’re born, they rely on you for everything. But wise parents help their child shift from less dependency to more responsibility. Being part of a family should mean a child has responsibilities as a team player. Chores like dishes, mowing, taking out the dog, and cleaning the house are family responsibilities, not parent responsibilities.
However, in many homes, parents do all these things and more while their children sit on the couch in front of a screen. Parents do this because it’s often easiest, even though they know it’s not best. Increasing your child’s responsibilities as they age helps them learn to manage basic life skills independently of you. It also brings great joy to your heart as your kids learn to develop a sense of pride and accomplishment for a job well done.
2. Increased Accountability
When a child is given age-appropriate responsibilities, it gives parents an advantage in preparing them for lifelong accountability and good decision-making. In our family, our children all have weekly chores that they are responsible for. They are also held accountable for completing them, otherwise, they lose privileges. Such accountability not only involves chores, but how they handle their money, their relationships, and our trust in them. It also carries over to intangible characteristics like kindness, forgiveness, and generosity.
When children are given clear boundaries and clear consequences for when those boundaries are crossed, accountability performs its greatest work. As a result, you are preventing your child from future entitlement and blame-shifting. You are also helping them to learn to make decisions for themselves and to live with the consequences of those decisions, whether good or bad. Increasing your kids’ accountability by allowing them to make decisions for themselves helps them not only grow in their decision-making capabilities but in their ownership of those decisions as well.There are few things that will take your child (or yourself) further than a tender-hearted, teachable spirit.
3. Increased Teachability
If responsibility and accountability are in place, you are miles ahead in preparing your child for a lifetime of teachability. There are very few things that will take your child (or yourself) further than a tender-hearted, teachable spirit. This is something that must be both taught and caught. Most children don’t like to be corrected. They think they know it all. But that is why God has given them you—to develop a teachable spirit within them that will help carry them far no matter where life takes them. However, this doesn’t come easily but often takes lots of patience, prayer, and perseverance.
Helping your child develop the characteristic of teachability while he’s young will equip him to be a better friend, spouse, or employee as an adult, to know how to handle training and correction when it’s given, and ultimately, to always continue growing throughout his life. But the longer you wait, the harder it becomes. As your children mature and demonstrate greater levels of teachability, you are successfully preparing them for their future and successfully working yourself out of a job at the same time.
Which of these three needs the most focus right now with your child?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How can I help you learn to do more on your own?”