Do you ever hear these phrases at your house?

“Could SOMEBODY pour milk on my cereal?”

“Could SOMEBODY get me a tissue?”

“Can SOMEBODY put my shoes on?”

“Can SOMEBODY make my lunch?”

And who is this mysterious SOMEBODY that my children are calling for? Who do they expect to come over and help them? It’s my husband and me, of course!

Now – I often tease my children that maybe SOMEBODY ELSE will come and help them with their need. Do they think the neighbor wil stop by? Maybe the postman?  But they simply laugh and know that Mom or Dad is the SOMEBODY who is going to swoop in to take care of them.

As parents, we are here to nurture and love our children and I recognize my responsibility and opportunity to serve them in areas where they can’t do things on their own. In reality, I don’t want my 4-year-old pouring his own milk and this is my chance to teach them how to ask for help politely (I often remind them to add a please to their request and a thank you when the job is accomplished) and to help keep the household running smoothly by helping with difficult tasks.

However, when my 8-year-old is lounging on the couch and calls for SOMEBODY to bring a tissue, I know it is time for the SOMEBODY transition to occur. She need to learn that she too can be her very own SOMEBODY and Mom is not standing at ready to meet needs that she can do herself.

In some ways, this feels a little mean. I love my kids and want to help make their life as smooth as possible. I’m standing within feet of the tissue box and yet I don’t bring her one? What’s up with that? And yet, I need my children to learn that Mom and Dad are not always going to be feet away ready to solve any dilemma and they need to get up on their own two feet and help themselves when needed.

In our home, this begins with baby steps.  Pouring milk for the cereal turns into helping the child balance the jug which turns into pouring for themselves.  Putting on shoes for a child turns into helping them know which feet which turns into doing it themselves. This will require saying no to kids who have come to believe that SOMEBODY will always appear to help with needs.  And yet, this different form of service will create independent children who are ready to problem solve and take care of their own needs.

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