I once asked a group of young women what the definition of an adult was. One of them immediately said it was when you turn 18-years-old. “That is the legal definition, “ I replied, “but what does it mean to be an adult? What kind of things should an adult be able to do?” That lead to a great discussion of what it really means to be an adult. By the end of the discussion, I helped them discover that a true adult is temporally and spiritually self-reliant.
“It was on a summer day early in the morning. I was standing near the window. The curtains obstructed me from two little creatures out on the lawn. One was a large bird and the other a little bird, obviously just out of the nest. I saw the larger bird hop out on the lawn, then thump his feet and cock his head. He drew a big fat worm out of the lawn and came hopping back. The little bird opened its bill wide, but the big bird swallowed the worm.
Then I saw the big bird fly up into a tree. He pecked at the bark for a little while and came back with a big bug in his mouth. The little bird opened his beak wide, but the big bird swallowed the bug. There was squawking in protest.
The big bird flew away, and I didn’t see it again, but I watched the little bird. After a while, the little bird hopped out on the lawn, thumped its feet, cocked its head, and pulled a big worm out of the lawn.
(Howard W. Hunter)
A true adult doesn’t NEED their parents to survive. They still appreciate their parents’ advice and still ask for help, but they are able to take care of themselves.
But are we teaching our kids how to be self-reliant or are we feeding them bugs?
When my children move away, I don’t want to be worried sick and think, “Did I teach them everything? Do they know how to cook well enough? Do they know how to budget so they have enough money for food and clothes? Can they paint and do minor household repairs? Do they understand the scriptures well enough that WHEN a storm of life hits them, they know how to find answers and comfort and not fall to pieces?” I want to sleep comfortably at night, KNOWING they can do these things because I taught them how to do it and WATCHED them do it over and over again at my house all by themselves.
On my quest to becoming a better mother, I finally realized that my goal is to be a TRAINER. Not just a teacher, but a trainer. My kids need to be able to DO what I can do and the sooner the better. Sometimes I tell my four-year-old, “Come, my young padawan.” My husband laughs, but it helps remind me that I am training. A Jedi trainer is not just having his padawan follow him around for fun and hoping that he picks up a few good tricks. The Jedi is constantly training him how to use the force and how to defend himself. The Jedi’s ultimate goal is that the padawan BECOMES a Jedi and is able to think like one, act like one, believe like one, and fight like one. The padawan becomes what the master is. That is my goal with parenting. Children aren’t supposed to remain children – we are to teach them how to BECOME temporally and spiritually self-reliant adults – but they can remain “children” long after they are 18 if we are not careful. It is our duty as parents to give them the skills they need to not only to survive, but thrive in the world without us. My goal is that if I died when they were 18, they would be just fine.
GOOD, BETTER, and BEST
A good mother reads to her children from the scriptures. A better mother has her children tell her what they are learning. But a “trainer” mother teaches her children how to use the scriptures – the topical guide, bible dictionary, foot notes, etc. She teaches them how to study them, how to mark them, how to find answers, and how to pull out principles.
A good mother cooks for her kids. A better mother shows them how to make a few meals. A “trainer” mother consistently teaches them how to cook and puts them in charge of making the meals. She teaches them principles behind cooking – what spices go well with what meats, why you knead the bread, what eggs do, etc.
A good mother is frugal. A better mother teaches her kids to be frugal. A trainer mother discusses why the kids should be frugal, gives them a budget, and lets them practice being frugal. She may give them a certain amount a year for clothes and once that money is gone, it is gone. If they choose to spend it on 2 jeans and a shirt, that is their choice, but they will quickly learn the value of saving, planning things out, and shopping at sales, etc.
These three scenarios have a common theme: teach your child how and why she should do something, SHOW her how to do it, and then let her DO it until she’s a master at it. Practice doesn’t always make it perfect, but it does make it permanent.
TEMPORALLY SELF-RELIANT KIDS
I use an age appropriate chore chart for my kids. I got this idea from a book entitled The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Browne Boyack. She listed all of the chores and skills she wanted her kids to be able to do by the time they left the house and then divided them up by age. It is absolutely brilliant. She lists things like learning a music instrument, gardening, cooking meals, learning first aid, etc and then assigns an age to it (this is the age when they will learn how to do it). I will write more about my chore chart and how I train my kids to do jobs right here: Chore Chart.
SPIRITUALLY SELF-RELIANT KIDS
“Giving a man a fish feeds him for one meal. Teaching a man to fish feeds him for a lifetime. As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help our children learn “to fish” and to become spiritually steadfast. This vital objective is best accomplished as we encourage our children to act in accordance with correct principles—as we help them to learn by doing. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17). Such learning requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception.” (Elder David A. Bednar, “Watching With All Perseverance,” Ensign, May 2010).
I use monthly themes from the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet to help teach my kids the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will post Family Home Evening ideas that go along with every theme, family goals, and thoughts that go along with that month’s theme right here: Monthly Family Values & Family Home Evening Ideas.
MY HOPES IN STARTING THIS BLOG
My greatest desire in writing this blog is that many mothers will come together where we can learn from each other and implement our ideas in our homes to help our training to go as smoothly and efficiently as possible as we pour our hearts in to helping our children become temporally and spiritually self-reliant.