You are not raising kids, you are raising adults.
The point is there is a countdown to adulthood that is happening for toddlers and teenagers, and the clock is not going to stop. The real question is what kind of adults are you raising? That question should motivate us to start relating to our kids with an end in mind.
Here’s a profound thought:
If you want your children to become responsible adults, then give them responsibilities now. I’m sure that may seem like an over-simplistic cliché, but there is a tendency for many of us to over-parent and over-lead. Have you ever heard that some trees cast such a large shadow that nothing else can grow around them? Here are a few ways to guarantee your kids will not grow up to be responsible adults:
Fix all your kids’ problems.
Protect them from experiencing any kind of physical or emotional pain.
Give-in to their excuses about not working.
Make sure you do for them whatever they can do for themselves.
Give them only what will make them happy.
Actually, the best way you can make sure kids grow up to be unhappy adults is to give them whatever makes them happy as kids. But if you want them to be fulfilled as adults, then give them responsibilities.
Responsibility is an interesting word.
It’s actually two words.
Response and ability.
Do you see the link between the two concepts? If you want to raise kids to become responsible, then lead them toward a life where they develop the right attitude toward work and tasks. Give them chores at every stage.
Lead so their response reveals their ability.
Your kids will never believe in what they can do until they actually do it. Help them discover what they can do by giving them consistent opportunities. If you take things away too soon or step in and do it for them, you could sabotage an opportunity for them to feel significant about something they actually accomplished.
Lead so their response matches their ability.
Don’t be unrealistic. You probably shouldn’t ask a two-year-old to build a fence in the backyard. Or ask a teenager to drive a semi. Use common sense and understand their capacity. We are not advocating giving someone too much pressure or responsibility. That’s why we also say . . .
Lead so their response grows their ability.
One of the most powerful principles attached to responsibility was something Jesus taught in a parable where he concluded, “If you are faithful with a little, you will be faithful with a lot.” Start by giving them a few small things to do, and then graduate them to larger things. Figure out how to transition them from putting up their stuffed animals to feeding the family pet.
Think about it this way:
Home should be the first job every kid ever has. So what kind of experiences are you giving your children to prepare them to be responsible adults?