01/26/2012 06:23 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ask Not What You Can Do for Your Child -- Ask What Your Child Can Do For You!


Why do we as parents do so much for our kids? Because we can, I think. We are not, most of us, plowing or harvesting from sunup til sundown. There are magic boxes in our home that scrub the wash, wash the dishes, heat the dinner in record time. So we have more time, and we use it to make our children's lives better and easier.

Then there's the guilt. Guilt for being at work a lot, or guilt for not working outside the home, which means we must be working inside the home or else we're just lazy, right? So we approach the household work the same way (for better or worse) that we would a job, doing what needs to get done without too much thought about how to change the system.

Can't forget the fear. Fear that our kids won't be as cared for, or protected or happy as they could be. Fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of outside influence. The belief that, by doing so many things for our kids, we can give them a suit of armor (made from our love and sacrifice) that will protect them in the world.

Most of all, love motivates parents to do for our children. No one loves these growing beings as much as a parent, and where better to put our energies than into caring and easing their way.

Here is my radical premise: Ask not what you can do for your children; ask what your children can do for you.

Take that time we are blessed with in this generation to stop putting away their laundry and start thinking about their characters. Think what great parenting you could do if you delegated some of the tedious work to your kids.

Put away guilt. If you can't, then consider the guilt you will feel when your young adult child can't keep a roommate because he doesn't know how to clean his apartment.

If fear motivates you, fear the entitled attitude that is sprouting in our children. The belief that we have created that every adult was put on this earth to make her life easier. The shock and betrayal on a daughter's face when she encounters teachers and bosses and even friends that do not put her desires before her responsibilities.

Let's love our kids with expectations and faith in their ability to learn and execute work. Each chore that you do for your family can cause you to ask yourself: "Do my kids know how to do this yet? Could they learn?"

*photo is author's own