Too many times over the years I have heard parents complain because their teenagers show little to no ambition. They are not a member of any organization at school or outside of the school. They do not have after school jobs nor clean their rooms or work around the house. They do not play sports nor join speech classes, work on the yearbook, belong to band, or partake in drama classes, or anything that is considered extra curriculum. They simply go to school and come home and sleep until noon or later on weekends.
When this happens, it is always appropriate that we parents take a good look at our own behavior. To what extent, are we the parents, involving ourselves or our children in extra activities in the home or out of the home. Do we simply go to work and come home and flop down in front of the television set and stay there until bed time and then get up and leave for work again the next day? Do we spend weekends puttering around the home and never leaving unless we go to the mall, a home repair or grocery store?
As I have said in many of my posts, our children do not hear what we say as much as they watch what we do. If we are a stay at home Mom and we are not making our children pick up after themselves or clean their rooms or share in household responsibility, we only add to their laziness.If we are working all kinds of hours and our children never see us work around the home, it can have the same kind of effect. If we have a maid and gardener and nothing is asked of our children, it can have the same results.Children are not born with ambition, it is something that needs to be taught to them. The best teachers are always the parents.
Schools can do just so much towards inspiring our children but when the majority of the classroom time is taken up with discipline problems, as it is today in most cases, then we need to inspire our own children.
If we are not taking them out to play putt putt golf,walking to the park or biking on trails with them,going to art museums or historical museums with them, bowling,teaching them to swim,T-ball or softball or games that the family can enjoy outside of the house or away from our home town or cities, then they will never leave the house, themselves.
If we never leave our home and stay in a motel but instead at mom’s and dad’s home, when we do leave our home, go to movies with them or drive to another town or city and choose different vacation spots,if they are never allowed to take a weekend trip on their own during the later highschool years,if we never volunteer in our communities or help with any special drive or organizations, then they are not being taught anything but to go to school and come home, just like we go to work and come home and never leave.
Too many times parents say,”No matter what I said to him or her or no matter how hard I tried to teach them to get up off their butts, they never listened.” Children will never listen to the parents who talk about ambition and then do nothing towards inspiring them to get involved when the parents are not showing any involvement themselves.
Many times parents can be very ambitious themselves but if work around the home, that never involves the children, is all they see us do, then they just assume that we are doing our job just as they are doing their job, when they go to school.Unfortunately, too many adults also have this attitude, as well, especially when it comes to both the boys or men in the household. Instead of having the patience or going through the headache of getting the children involved with helping with the housework, they will often convince themselves that it is not the child’s responsibility to be responsible for themselves at home.
We need to lead by example and inspire them to want to leave the home because we have taught them to be both independent through their own efforts of taking care of responsibilities both in the home as well as in the community in which they live.I repeat then: Only we can inspire them through our own behavior and through teaching them how to be independent before they are too old to hear us. Children need to start learning to take care of their own responsibilities before they are 10 years of age.
They need to be able to get themselves up when an alarm goes off, do their own laundry,clean their room and change a vacuum cleaner bag or dump the reservoir, run a dish washer, fix their own meals, even if it is only cereal or micro-waveable, earn an allowance for the work they do around the home or from a job out of the home, balance a check book, start taking a serious look at the colleges they plan on attending by their sophomore year,bathe or shower without being told and be inspired to join extra curricula activities within the school or outside of it, so that it is natural to them and habit, before their 17th birthday.
Responsible and independent teenagers are no different from any other responsible adult in that they do not want to be told to do what they already are responsible enough to do on their own. The more we try to treat them as irresponsible children the more eager they will be to get out and away from home, in order to begin their life on their own. It is when they are never taught to be responsible before their teen years, they will be content to stay home and let mom or dad do it for them. The older they get before they become independent and responsible the lower their self-esteem will become and the more fearful they will become to leave home on their own.
The more capable a child is towards taking care of their own needs, as well as, the more exposed they are to different cultures and lifestyles, because they have been exposed to different areas in the United States or the World,as well, the more likely they will also be towards wanting to leave home and provide for their own needs. If the most that we can afford to do is camping or fishing or school activities or YMCA sports or in State travel, then do that, with your children, so they do learn to leave their home because You taught them to get away from home and take responsibility beginning in baby steps, by the age of three, and while they were still young enough to enjoy the adventure of doing so.
If our children are already adults, then sometimes we will need to move them out of our home, once they get a job, even if we need to help with the deposit or they need to advertise for room mates or move in with someone else who is advertising for a room-mate, to help pay for expenses, and accept the fact they will more likely than not live the life that we lived, because we went to work and came home and never left the house but to go to the mall, a home repair store or grocery store,or to Mom’s and Dad’s. All Momma Birds, as well as humans, need to sometimes kick the stragglers from the nest, before they can learn to fly.
It doesn’t make a lot of difference if we like it or not, but our children will emulate us when they do become adults, when we do not spend the time with them to teach them a different way to live. If we wanted better for our children, then we should perhaps be grateful they did value the good in the life we may have taken for granted, instead of being disappointed with our children for not living, our dream for them, for our sake.
If in the final analysis, when we have done our job and are able to offer to the world an adult child who both knows and respects themselves as well as others, we should all be grateful. No one should ever be made to apologize for the job they hold,their own belief system, or the dedication they put into it.
It does us all well to know and remember: just as maturity comes in stages, so does the kind of life our adult children choose to live, often times move in the same or different circles, and is not always open for interpretation from us or others, of how many hours are put in but rather how those hours are spent. Ambition just like success, belongs in the eyes of the beholder, when it makes a difference to the person receiving the kindness or efforts from the job, as well as the person doing the performance.