There are so many different things that we need to think about when getting prepared for emergencies or in most cases, just everyday life. One of the things that we need to seriously consider is preparing our children – not just for emergencies, but for everyday life. My philosophy on motherhood is to become obsolete – not as a loving, caring mother, but as a caretaker. After all, if I am going to have my kids take care of me when I get old, then I need to teach them how.
I know that there are a lot of good parents out there that teach their children the skills of life like working hard, cooking, taking care of their possessions and such, but there are also a lot of parents who do everything for their kids. If you are doing everything for your kids, you are just teaching them that they need to be taken care of and when they reach adulthood, they won’t have the everyday skills that they need to live successfully. They will still want to be taken care of. Employers hate that. Spouses hate that. They will blame you.
Teach your children how to read a recipe and how to measure food products accurately. Get them involved with fixing the family meals, not just portions of it – let them cook the whole thing, including dessert! I know, you will need to build them up with the necessary skills little by little, but isn’t that how we learn things, little by little? Line upon line, precept upon precept?
When my daughter was twelve years old, I came home late exhausted from cleaning somebody else’s house. I was so tired that boxed macaroni and cheese actually sounded good. Even eating the cardboard box it came in sounded good. When I walked through the door of my house I was overwhelmed with the most incredible smells. My daughter, knowing that I would be tired when I came home, roasted an Italian style chicken smothered with a homemade tomato based sauce and she made focaccia bread from scratch – yeast and all! I had never made focaccia bread before. It was a delicious feast – not just because I was tired and eating cardboard sounded good, but because it was honest-to-goodness delicious. In fact, it was so good that our family had her make the same meal several more times. What was really great was that we didn’t have all of the ingredients for the focaccia bread and so she substituted other items - and it tasted wonderful. She was twelve. She had been practicing cooking and following recipes since she was eight years old; boy did that practicing pay off – for me! Teach your kids to cook.
Teach your kids to learn to love work. They will resist. I know it is hard to believe that our blessed, sweet, shiny-faced children would balk at working up a little sweat, but they do. Work is a wonderful gift from God, and it is important that we allow them to “practice” working at work – until they learn to love it. The only rule that I ask you to follow is that when working, your children are not allowed to complain – that just takes all of the fun out of doing a good job. Show them that working up a sweat is not lethal.
This year my husband just wasn’t up to planting or taking care of the garden. My son, without being asked, went out and planted a garden of his own – he was 17. We enjoyed eating chard, radishes, corn, and tomatoes. To him it is no longer a chore, but a labor of love.
Have them do repetitive jobs. Have them keep their rooms clean (don’t roll your eyes at this), have them help keep the house clean, maintain and keep their possessions clean and straight. Have them wash the laundry, then fold the laundry and finally, PUT THE LAUNDRY AWAY – all on the same day. Teach them to mow lawns, weed flowerbeds and all of the other stuff that needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Don’t let your kids go out into the cold cruel world thinking that things magically get clean, get picked up, or are self-maintaining – it just isn’t fair to them. Get them busy. If your kids aren’t mad at you for a while, then you aren’t doing it right.
Teach your sons and your daughters to maintain their tricycles, then their bikes, and finally their cars. Teach them to mend their clothes and to sew on their own buttons. Teach them to wash and iron their clothes. Teach them that their bedroom floors are not the biggest shelf in the house - AND DON’T GIVE UP! We are shortchanging our children by not helping them to stretch and grow. The momma bear only feeds her young when they are very small and then little by little, she teaches her cubs what they need to know to make it on their own. Then she lets them go (or pushes them out – whichever). Sure, they do it on a lot faster time scale, but we have more to teach our kids.
How to text really, really fast on their cell phone, or get to level gazillion on some computer game, just won’t help them when they go out on their own, unless they are texting you to ask you how to run the washer and dryer at their apartment. If you love ‘em, let ‘em learn – and then they can take care of themselves and you can enjoy them as they should be enjoyed, as responsible adults.