2018-03-09 / Chaplain's News

Challenge children to become self-sufficient in life

Chaplain (Maj.) William M. Oliver
116th Military Intelligence Brigade

Do you want your child to eventually be self-sufficient or do you want them to be dependent on you indefinitely?

Recently my wife’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephew visited my wife and me. My nephew is 21 years old, he has temporarily dropped out of college, he is not working, and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are providing everything for their son. They pay for his food, clothing, shelter, car insurance, cell phone, etc.

Throughout their visit, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law conveyed to me their frustration with their son. They wish he would “get it together” and move out of their home. I think I surprised them when I told them “Why should he? You provide him with everything so why would he want to move out?”

The previous highlights a growing trend in today’s culture: parents are raising their children in ways that challenges them to eventually become self-sufficient. The following are some practical recommendations that parents could follow in order to help reverse this trend:

1. Be your child’s parent and not just their friend. Until your child becomes a legal adult you should strive to always be the parent. You may have plenty of time later in life to eventually become your child’s friend, but during their formative years your child needs a parent and not another friend.

2. Insist that your child eventually become a better person than you. Too many parents are far too lenient with their child because they think to themselves, “Well, when I was their age I did the same thing.” For example, some parents are lenient with their child’s drug experimentation because they too experimented with drugs when they were younger. Parents, don’t let your prior stupidity be an excuse for your child to do stupid things.

3. Develop a strong work ethic in your child. Teach your child the importance of having a strong work ethic at an early age, and give them tasks that they must accomplish. When I was five years old my mother taught and made me make my bed every day, which is a task I continue now and I’m 47 years old. Teach and make your child accomplish tasks.

4. Teach your child the value of money. In conjunction with the previous point, give your child routine chores to complete, and when they complete them over a period of time then give them a financial reward. This will teach your child the value of work, and that money is earned and not just given.

5. Teach your child that they are not the center of the universe. So many children today are narcissistic. Their parents let them call the shots, and the children pitch a fit when they don’t get what they want. Teach your child that life isn’t fair. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t. In life you have to play the hand given to you, and make the best of it. Teach your child this reality.

Finally, this previous list of things is not exhaustive, and so many more things can and should be added. My hope is that this article encourages parents to pause and evaluate their effectiveness as parents. When a child becomes an adult and isn’t self-sufficient, it isn’t solely the child’s fault . . . it is the parents’ fault too.

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