The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine about kids, houses, parethood; you know, generally solving all the world's problems. She made a comment that has stuck with me, which she does often; Denise is quite profound. She was talking about her house and how it is messier than she would like it, but that she made a decision to not focus on that. Instead, she felt like she needed to focus on the love in her house, because she felt it was lacking. The kids had been bickering and she wanted to increase the love. I liked her point, because I think it is true that we have to decide what goals to prioritize as parents. We just can't do everything. Well, at least I can't.
So, I have been thinking about the principles and values that mean the most to me and that I stress with my kids. It has been interesting to realize that some of the things I make the biggest deal of to my kids are actually things that teach them important values. It's nice to know. Here are a couple of areas I have been working on with the kids:
** I have been teaching the kids to clean up after themselves. They both know now that when they come in the house, they are supposed to put away their coats and shoes. And they actually do it, miracle of miracles. Also, they are much better about throwing away wrappers from food rather than just dropping them on the floor and generally picking things up that I ask them to. They still make messes, but they are becoming much more cooperative about cleaning up. I like a clean house. I really do, but I can handle some clutter. I don't totally stress out if the house is messy, but this is important to me because I want them to learn to respect their possessions and to respect me. There's nothing that aggravates me more than a kid who just expects me to clean up after them. I am hoping to instill in them a sense of responsibility and a respect for others and for what Bil and I do for them.
** We have been really stressing that the kids use the words "please," "thank you," "excuse me" etc. This was something my parents really focused on and I think it is so good for kids to have nice manners. Plus, I think it helps lessen that feeling of entitlement that most kids have. I want my kids to understand that I don't have to help them or give them things. They should be grateful when someone does something nice for them and they should ask for things politely. It goes a long way toward getting what you want, too; people are so much more likely to help you if you are polite.
** Anger management is another priority for us. This one is tricky; I am not always sure how to teach the kids how to react in appropriate ways, since to be honest, I am not always the best model of proper anger management skills. But we are working on it together.
What are some principles or values that are important in your family? Do you have any areas that you are really working on? Why did you pick those areas? What has worked for you?