When Nathan was born, the strangest thing happened...the nurses handed this newborn baby to Dan and I and said...here you go! There was no instruction sheet, no "how-to" book, no manual on how to operate him. There wasn't even any instructions on how often to feed him. We had to learn all of this on our own. It wasn't easy. We've had many bumps along the road. Nathan, because he was our first, has probably had the worst of it. By the time Amelia and Olivia came along, we had some experience under our belt. We knew what was ahead and knew we could handle it, well, because we had done it before.....not perfect or well....but we did have some experience under our belt.
As time as gone on, I've realized that we still don't know anything. Each day is new and each day is a learning experience. Still, we have tried to instill our values into our children. No one ever told us just how hard that would be. We are constantly working against the culture of the times. We know that we are "in" the world but God has asked us not to be "of" the world. I totally get that, I do! But the question remains, HOW do we keep the world from influencing our kids?
I believe that Dan and I are good people. I mean, we don't steal or cheat. We have a good faith life. We belong to a wonderful faith community. We work hard to provide for our kids and teach them the important things. Our kids have been through a lot...especially our family experience with my breast cancer. They KNOW how blessed we are to have our health, a home, food and clothing. They go to a good school and we remind them often about our blessings and how thankful we should be.
Even with all of that, sometimes, I just don't think they get it. They have the same entitlement attitude that is so pervasive in our society now. They think we (Dan and I) owe them something. Yes, it's true. They don't want to help out around the house unless they get something in return. They do not, for the most part, have a 'servant's heart'. Why is this so? On this particular subject, Dan and I have worked especially hard at instilling the virtue of charity. We live this....especially Dan. He is the most giving person I know. It doesn't matter who is in need, he is right there to help. He NEVER asks for anything in return. I'm so sad and hurt that no matter what Dan and I try to do, they just don't get this. With few exceptions, they start every sentence with "can I have", "will you buy", "can we do", "why can't I have".
The clock is ticking on how much longer we will have any influence on them at all. Nathan will be 12 in a few months. He is not kind to his sisters and has begun to really balk at the things he is asked to do. I would say, borderline disrespectful. It's the same with the girls, but they are still young and I feel as though they are still teachable. We still have influence over them and can keep steering them in the direction we want them to go. Nathan, I think, is nearing that time when we will need to have more faith in God and his Guardian Angel and just hope for the best.
I bring all of this up to you, because I recently ordered a book that I saw on Pinterest. It came today.
The title is, Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.
Now, my goal has never been to have 3 little robotic slaves in my house. I don't expect my kids to do my job or Dan's job. I just want better contribution to the normal running and upkeep of our home. I want them to be a part of this family in all aspects of family life.
Here is what I read on the back cover of this book........
"Is Your Home Out of Order?
Do your kids expect clean folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers? Do they roll their eyes when you suggest they clean the bathroom? By racing in to make their lives easy, have you unintentionally reinforced your children's belief that the world revolves around them?
Dismayed at the attitude of entitlement that had crept in her home, Kay Wyma got some attitude of her own. Clean House is her account of a year-long campaign to introduce her five kids to basic life skills and the ways meaningful work can increase earned self-confidence and concern for others.
With irresistible humor and refreshing insights, Kay candidly details the ups and downs of equipping her kids for such tasks as making beds, refinishing a deck chair, and working together. The changes that take place in her household will inspire you to launch your own campaign to dislodge your kids from the center of the universe."
I have not read this book yet so I have no idea if this is going to help me or not...I only know that I need to do something. As I'm typing this post, the girls should be in their room cleaning. Instead, they are making it worse. Here is what their room looks like at the moment.....hold on to something while I show you....
We've taken most of the toys away...what's left is basically dress up clothes, some stuffed animals and books. Everything else is clothes. It doesn't matter what I do, what I offer as a bribe or what I threaten them with. It's always an argument. Olivia is better about helping me...but Amelia...forget it.
Just now, I gave them a list of the things they needed to do in this room. We started off easy. Number one on the list was to pick up all the shoes and put them in the shoe bin! That sounds easy enough...but they are in there bickering. It's 11:47am now. We'll see where we are in a few hours. I've already told them there will be no play dates until it's all done.
I've been praying to St. Anne for help with this issue. I'm just not sure how to handle it anymore. On the one hand....it's just a room! On the other hand, they need to learn personal responsibility and they need to learn good habits.
I've also been re-reading Judy Dudich's book, I Surrender. I'm especially re-reading the chapters on "Surrender in Family Life" "and Surrender in My Schedule". There is much to be gained from the experiences of others. I'm not sure that you'll be able to gain anything from my experiences at this point, but, stranger things have happened!