After my last post about Elder Boy and his upcoming graduation, I remembered one major thing. It's something I had come to realize several months ago before ever moving to Colorado. My children are spoiled.
I remember my grandma saying when The Boy was born, "You can never spoil a child with too much love." She was correct. I love my children. They know I do. They're not spoiled in that way.
Mr. LH and I live on the cheap. We bargain shop, hunt for deals and make a small salary stretch. We've done that together since we were married and even before we met we were "thrifty". That will probably continue even when the kids have all grown and we aren't trying to raise a family of five. We can't afford to give the kids lots of things or take them to a lot of places (at least not the ones that cost money). They're not spoiled by getting too many "things".
What I mean is we do too much for them. Simple things.
We wake them up in the morning. How are they going to wake up in time for college classes or for work if Mom & Dad aren't there to get them up in time? Both boys (maybe even The Girl, too) are old enough to be able to use an alarm clock to wake up on their own.
I make the "Pickles'" breakfasts and lunches, fix their after school snacks, do their laundry (wash, dry, fold and put away). For a long time, everytime I would go to sit down, one of the kids would ask for something...food, a drink, even a pencil sharpener! They are all old enough to do all those things. Elder Boy is responsible for his own laundry, but even now I have to hint around about him doing it.
Homework time is a constant struggle with the "Pickles". They can't play until their homework is done, but then they take so long doing it, moaning and groaning about it most of the time, that most nights it's almost dinner time when they've finally finished - too late to go outside and play.
It's rare that any of the kids will do something on their own like making the bed, washing the dishes, cleaning their bathrooms, taking out the trash. They want a dog so badly, but they can't remember to feed the pets we already have. But why should they do any of that when Mr. LH and I have been doing it for them for so long now.
Elder Boy is constantly asking for money but he won't go get a job. And though he's submitted a couple applications, he doesn't take the next step to communicate with the companies. It's like he's expecting people to line up to offer him a position. So he has no job and asks for money. And though we tell him he needs to get a job, we say it while handing over the last 5, 10 or 20 dollar bill we have. Why should he be in a hurry to get a job when he gets money for nothing right here at home?
After mulling over all this in my head and discussing it with Mr. LH, we decided things were going to have to change. Doing less for them didn't mean we loved them less. It meant we wanted them to be able to take care of themselves and to grow into responsible, capable adults. So at dinner last night (without Elder Boy - he was with his girlfriend), Mr. LH and I discussed some things with the "Pickles". We explained the little things they could start doing on their own.
This morning, before I ever woke up, the "Pickles" got up on their own (The Boy set his alarm clock), they fixed their own breakfasts (I still made their lunches) and they had an extra hour to play before it was time to head off to school. That made them quite happy and they were very proud of themselves. We'll need to work on keeping track of the time because it was still a mad rush to get shoes and coats on and bookbags packed, but we can start small.
We're going to go back to (a variation of) the "chore chart" which was a very short-lived item in the house several years ago. We'll start assigning a day of the week for each child to assist with dinner prep.
Eventually, they'll be responsible for keeping track of their savings account registers (right now I just show them the interest they've earned from their savings). I've always told them we would take care of getting them the things they NEED. They would have to get the things they WANT on their own.
I'm sure it will take a lot of work in the beginning to get everyone following a new set of expectations and responsibilities, but I'm hoping, if Mr. LH and I are diligent about it, the "Pickles" will be much better prepared for adulthood than I feel Elder Boy is right now. I can only hope Elder Boy will learn a lot in the next 3 months about responsibility and doing what you have to do now so you can do what you want to do later.