In a little town outside Madrid, the city leaders launched a campaign to crack down on irresponsible dog owners. They had a team of volunteers wandering the city streets on the lookout for anyone who failed to scoop up after their dog. These volunteers would approach the guilty dog owner, engage them in conversation and discover the name of the dog. (With name in hand, they could identify the owner from a registered pet database.)
Then they would scoop up the excrement, package it in a specially designed box and deliver it by courier to the offending pet owner’s house. This past February, there were 147 “express poop” deliveries made and not surprisingly, a 70% drop in the amount of dog mess around the city.
It is a funny story, but it sure does highlight the rampant lack of responsibility demonstrated by many adults today. And how did they get to be so irresponsible? Well, my thought for today is: irresponsible kids become irresponsible adults.
So what can the well meaning parent do to make certain their child grows up as a responsible adult? My thought, make sure they have chores to do now!
Every child beyond the age of three needs to have chores to accomplish. As a member of the family, they need to participate in making sure the family operates well. Please note that I did not say the household needs them. No, they (the children) desperately need the discipline, practice and experience of being a productive member of a family (team, office, city, country). A household could operate easily without their involvement, but their character “needs” the chores.
Years ago I was having this conversation with the mother of an unruly young man. I suggested that household chores would help build a sense of responsibility in him. As I outlined the kind of chore he might do, the mom replied, “We have a house keeper for that.” I mentioned some outside things he might be involved in, and she replied, “That’s what we have a gardener for.”
Let’s agree, that your household will run smoother and much more efficiently (and certainly with less hassle) if the parents do the work or job it out. But your child desperately needs to learn to be responsible for himself. Three year olds can pick up toys and fill the dog dish. Four and five year olds can make their bed, clear the table and pull weeds. Six and seven year olds can sort laundry, help make lunches and keep a bathroom tidy. And the older ones can do so much more. (Trust me, if they can operate a complex video game, they can certainly operate the dish washer.)
So this week, consider the adults outside Madrid that had to have a special package delivered in order to remind them to be responsible citizens. And let’s all make sure our children don’t become like them! Make your chore list, give the kids options, set reasonable time tables and as parents, agree to consistently enforce the process. It is worth the effort!
Responsible kids become responsible adults.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel