Help your children fail in ten easy steps

This week’s guest post is from Monica Ricci who’s based in Atlanta Georgia, USA . Like me, she’s been helping others declutter since 2002.  I’m thrilled to share this brilliant post from her that may be the wake-up call you’re needing right now.

Last year I wrote a post called Life Lessons From Laundry, explaining all the great lessons that learning to do laundry teaches kids, besides the actual ability wash their clothes. It got me thinking about other great lessons kids learn by being given household responsibilities when they’re young. It also made me think of the sad result of NOT asking children to contribute in the home.
Children who are not asked to contribute to the daily responsibilities of a household grow into ADULTS who don’t know the first thing about the basic tasks of running their own lives. (I think that’s a giant “DUH”, but some parents really don’t connect those dots…)
Baby birds, after several weeks of being cared for, leave the nest (or are sometimes pushed out) and are capable of flying on their own, finding food and avoiding predators. Thanks to instinct and the instruction of mama birds, these tiny babies have the tools they need to survive on their own. Children, however, even after 18 years at home, aren’t always so prepared when they leave the nest.
It’s easy to assume that kids will simply “know” how to take care of themselves and their home, but unless they’re proactively taught basic life skills while they’re still under Mom and Dad’s roof, they’re forced to learn them the hard way after they move out.
What college student needs the burden of learning life basics while at the same time, adjusting to being away at school? Won’t your kids have enough stress acclimating to college classes, professor expectations, time management, logistics and social life without the added stress of figuring out how NOT to turn their white underwear pink in the laundry? Do you really want your 20-something living in a filthy apartment, surviving on Ramen noodles and wearing dirty socks to his first job?
Laundry, cleaning, cooking, and other basic life skills should already be second-nature by the time your kid gets to college, so he can focus ALL his attention and energy on getting good grades and starting his work life. College isn’t the time to be learning the stuff he should have mastered by his 12th birthday. So in case you’re wondering how you’re doing, here are 10 Simple Ways to Create an Inept Adult:
1. Clean your child’s room every week. Make sure you leave a note that says what a good boy he is after you’re done vacuuming and you’ve pulled last week’s dinner plate out from under the bed.
2. Pack your child’s lunch every morning. Don’t forget to cut the crusts off the sandwiches too.
3. Get your child a dog. Then take care of it yourself. Carrying around a bag of dog poop twice a day isn’t so bad.
4. Wash, dry, fold and put away all your child’s laundry. Before you do, remember to go around his room picking up all the clothes off the floor and smelling each item to see if it’s really dirty or if he just threw the clean clothing there.
5. Cut the lawn yourself. Or better yet, pay a neighbor kid to do it while your kid plays video games indoors.
6. When your child forgets something, drive to school and drop it off. Sports equipment, band instrument, backpack, or his lunch. Whatever it is, go out of your way to drop it off, even if it means you’re late to work yourself. Do this every time he forgets.
7. Micro-manage your child’s homework. Ask him 4 times each night what homework he has, then review it with him, helping him with any parts you think you understand. Agree strongly when he complains that he’ll never use geometry in real life. Do this all the way through his senior year of high school.
8. Keep a sparkling house. Spend your free time cleaning or pay someone to do it for you. Any time cleaning is going on, make sure he’s playing somewhere else so he doesn’t get in the way, and the house is cleaned “properly”.
9. Pick up after your child daily. Be sure to stay on top of the trail of glassware, candy wrappers, socks, shoes, books and toys he leaves behind him throughout the day.
10. Give your child money at his request. Be sure you require no accountability or exchange of value for this money and for Pete’s sake, don’t open a savings account for him or show him how to budget money or balance a checkbook! These ten simple steps will ensure that you rear a child that will turn into an adult who remains dependent on you (or someone else) just to handle the basics of everyday life. Won’t you be proud?
PS: This post was originally featured on my blog and was titled 10 Ways to Create an Inept Adult. You can Follow me on Twitter and also find me at Facebook.

6 responses to “Help your children fail in ten easy steps

  1. Love this! My 4yo is complaining because I have started asking him to carry his plate into the kitchen after meals after seeing other kids do it when we were out on the weekend.

  2. Woohoo ladies! Thanks for the comment and thanks to my pal Lissanne for posting my article. As the child of a mother who believed “don’t do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves” I can’t help but applaud you moms who teach your kids to be self-sufficient! They’ll complain about it now but they’ll thank you later, I PROMISE! :o)

  3. Whilst I agree with the laudable tenets of this post, it is a tad judgemental. Some of grew up in abusive homes without adequate role models, then went on to become teen mothers, floundering our way through parenting as best we could, trying desperately to avoid the poor parenting exhibited to us. So to have adult children who act with integrity, are honest, have stable jobs and are financially secure, are relationally secure and content, and contributing to society, is a huge plus. And no, I failed to teach them many, many basics, so they’ve had to flounder their way through that part of it too. I continue to grow, as they will, and will always seek to better my guidance and leadership, but please, keep guiding us with your wisdom and common sense but do so gently; we really are doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

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