Since I have (cough) “grown-up”, I have wanted to let kids/teenagers know about the reasons why parents sometimes ask for things. Maybe its because when I was young-I was told to do this and that with very little explanation. And though my mom was strict, now I see the reasons why some of these things were important (both due to experience and through structure). So I want to dispense some of this knowledge to help parents relax and help kids see something different.
1) Cleaning — I absolutely hated this as a kid. why clean my room when it gets dirty again? Why bother putting away the clothes you are going to wear again? And why bother putting them away so it matters–stuffing a drawer is easier. But as an adult (and from living on my own during my college years), there is a reason to cleaning. For one–things last longer when they are clean. Don’t believe me–leave something of yours with another person for 6 months… and tell them they don’t need to clean it. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised when it is still cleaned or frustrated you have to buy a new one because its disgustingly dirty. I learned this when I lived on my own. Dishes only got washed if I did them. Laundry was only clean if I made the effort to put it away. Now, I’m not saying the 5year old should know how to clean everything, but teaching children some mild chores as they grow that are age appropriate will help keep a parents’ sanity and help kids to appreciate cleanliness. Finally, being clean shows a level of respect. Teenagers always talk about being treated like an adult and adults usually respond with “Act like one.” Well–here’s a way to do it. Keep a tidy room & tidy self 🙂
2) The Negatives — I think i was robbed of many basic explanations as a child due to my mother’s struggle with my dad’s mental illnesses, but i was robbed of many negative experiences in my life. It probably also has to do with the fact I was the child my mom was never supposed to have. So I was doubly protected. However, as an adult, I have learned that limiting my interaction with certain things created a taboo about them. And while age is always a concern when discussing things like death, sex, and faults in oneself (or in your parents’ self), it should still be approached in reality. Telling kids that dogs live forever in some great green pasture robs them of the understanding of death. Refusing to explain mental illness to a child just because you don’t think they will understand only results in greater frustration later as an adult. Trust me–kids know more than we give them credit for.
3) Go to school and do your homework — Now, I never had a problem with this. My mom was excellent at teaching (as she was a teacher) and encouraged me to use my mind. But I know there are several people who found this topic very difficult. here are some fun facts–I tested out of math in college because I did my homework and worked through calculus my senior year of high school. Yes–that’s right, I haven’t taken a math class since 2001 😀 Also, doing extra work gets extra credit. And parents–don’t expect perfection, even if you had a straight A kid. My mom always said to try my hardest and if my hardest was a C then she would be happy. The backside of that is she knew I could get As & Bs so I tried harder. It worked. Finally, to get anywhere in this world you need training or school. Getting a job with my BA was easier said that done and getting a decent paying job requires continued studies, including a master or Ph.D. if need be. So might as well find what you’re good at, work through those pesky high school years and eventually it will pay off in the long run.
Thank your parents–I didn’t really think about this much, but its extremely important. Kids should always thank their parents for the millions of things they do for them. Or honor your parents if they do not do anything for you. There is no reason to disrespect family (Expanded meaning–if you have a parent you do not know or do not care to know (as we all know about these), it does not give you the right to act towards him or her or your parental figure….i always meant this in a “don’t give them a reason to hate”, but I know that expects a certain level of “perfection.” I just don’t want one person’s evils to be superimposed on another person just because they are related.