Proper Care and Handling – A Parent’s Choice

Proper Care and Handling

Proper Care and Handling ““ A Parent’s Choice

Have you ever played the game where you hold your arm outstretched, palm up, and then someone places a small object, such as a book, in the outstretched hand? The idea is to see just how long you will last before your muscles start to spasm and you buckle under the pain from the weight of this seemingly small object. What is fascinating about this little experiment is the fact that the object itself could be held all day long if you were given the choice to hold it in a more natural way, such as clutched under your arm or held close to your chest. The real problem isn’t the object itself; the real problem comes in holding it in an unnatural position that requires using muscles that are not trained to handle the strain of its weight for a long period of time.

I find parenting to be similar to this game. When we first take on the task as young parents, we are scared to fail and seek answers to our endless questions in hopes of knowing or learning enough to keep the child safe in our keeping. Understanding the proper care and handling of those we are guardians to can make the difference of how well we hold up when things become strained and difficult to handle. Each stage of growth and development requires more knowledge and patiencs than we quite possibly could imagine. It is important to never stop in our quest to understand just how best to hold up our personal responsibility as parents and to be willing to search out strength from others who have journeyed the path before us.

I have a friend to whom I often turn for answers pertaining to parenting. She and her husband have been raising five children, and in doing so she continually seeks knowledge through books and seminars to improve her parenting skills. Because of her willingness to learn from others and share those findings, she has become an amazing resource for our family, helping us to better parent our boys. I have turned to her on countless occasions to discuss possible answers to problems I have faced, and one such problem was that of respect for property. Little did I know at the time that the answer would be found simply by giving our children ownership through the opportunity to purchase those items they wanted or needed.

This program she taught us was called “Token Economy” and was rather easy to incorporate with an amazing outcome. The simple plan was to give each child weekly chores for which they were paid. The older child was given more chores along with the opportunity to earn more money, because they also were required to take on more responsibly to care for themselves. I remember when we first started this program; Landon was around 12 years old and because of his age was given full responsibility to purchase all of his own clothes (shoes included). He was also given the opportunity to earn close to $100 a month if he chose to do the work (some chores were mandatory, yet others were optional). With this opportunity came his responsibility to take care of not only his needs but also his wants. We would no longer purchase those items that he required, other than food (but in truth we still did, through providing the money for him to do so). The beauty in this program was its ability to teach self-reliance.

Here is how life changed in this process. No longer were we pestered with “Can I have this?” and “Can I have that?,” for they knew that if they really wanted something it was in their power to make it happen. They were taught, each week when they were paid, to first take 10% of their earnings and pay tithing. Next they were required to put a third of what remained into savings (I became the banker). Then finally the choice was theirs on how to spend what remained. It was very interesting how quickly the need/want for designer-named items went by the wayside and how much of a thrill they got shopping the clearance racks and discount stores. Another pleasant surprise that followed was their desire to take care of those items they themselves had purchased. Fewer clothes were tossed on the floor, partially because (at the age of 12) they were also required to do their own laundry. In the few years that we maintained this program, the boys learned to find value in doing for themselves. They became self-reliant. Eventually we stopped the program as they were able to create summer jobs, and I stopped printing the chore charts. But, in looking back, I have decided it is worth implementing once again as long as they remain in our keeping; however, it will be slightly modified to fit the needs of our family at this stage as I see fit.

Token economy is only one of the many ideas that have been passed on to benefit this family as we grow and learn together. By learning to not hold principles and teachings to ourselves but rather share them through outstretched arms and voices to those who may need them, our children (the real treasures) reap the greatest benefit as they are loved and directed to someday be free agents of their own. So as we learn that, in most cases, our children should not be considered the problem, but rather how we hold (parent) them to be, we will discover as we hold them most naturally clutched under our arm or close to us the strain and weight of this task called parenting may be made light.

In Other’s Words:

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

~African Proverb~

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