Power-Decade Parenting

Family Friday: Teach The Habit of Helping

Published 3 months ago • 2 min read

Family Friday Newsletter - 2 min read

by: Finley Robinson

A Single Sentence from a Season Ahead

In your power-decade of parenting, half-credit is so much better than none at all.

The Habit of Helping

There is a very specific noise that I hear occasionally in my house. Imagine what a tornado would sound like, except it comes from inside the house instead of outside.

The sound combination is part human and part industrial. It is a mixture of grunting and slight-slamming.

We call it rage-cleaning.

You may not experience this in your home, but when our kids were little, it arrived on a semi-regular basis.

One of my wife's most endearing qualities to me is her love and gift of keeping a clean house. That task is nearly impossible with young kids at home.

We had moments when the "cleaning" took on a whole different sound. Her pace quickened, she walked louder, and the cabinets shut harder. There was aggressive vacuuming and somehow even folding towels sounded loud.

Rage-cleaning ...

One of my practices as a dad, to be a good partner to my wife, was to give any of my young kids within earshot a singular assignment in those moments.

Go find your mom and ask her this question:

"Is there anything I can do to help you?"

Here's what I learned as a father. If a 6-year-old or a 10-year-old is told to help, the outcome is very different in their life than if they are told to ask how they can help.

The slight difference makes all the difference and here's why.

In one approach parents are solving a problem. With the other, they are establishing a life-long virtue.

When you routinely teach your kids this two-part sequence, they will be better friends, spouses, teammates, and partners.

Instead of telling them to help, you teach them to initiate the help. This simple approach worked well for us ...

Step 1: Go and ask, "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

Step 2: Do, to the best of your ability, whatever it is they ask you to do.

Whether I went to my kids while my wife was rage-cleaning or she told them to come help stack wood or rake leaves, we both pushed our kids to initiate helping. The goal was to develop the habit, believing the attitude would arrive later.

It makes a huge difference when your kids initiate the help. To be honest, they will likely have a bad attitude either way, whether they are told to help or told to go offer the help.

The benefit of them asking, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" is that it ingrains in them the habit and practice.

Someday, when they are 16 years old, after years of being told to go ask if they can help, they will surprise you when you least expect it.

They will walk over to you when you are up to your elbows in butter, trying to cook a Thanksgiving meal for 20 people.

They will say to you, with sincerity, those words that you've told them to say so many times... "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

It's worth the reps, mom and dad. I can promise those words will find their way back to you if you start now while your kids are young and stick with it.

Till next Friday,

The 3-Part Family Framework

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Power-Decade Parenting

By Finley Robinson

Helping propel moms & dads of 3 to 13 year-olds to invest in their power-decade of parenting. Father of 3 teenagers and pastor of 20 years turned digital writer.

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