It’s important that we as parents ensure we don't hand hold our children into becoming spoiled, entitled adults that demand and expect every little feeling to be validated and every thought acknowledged.
Growing up with West Indian parents meant I grew up in an environment where the expectations included hard work, responsibility and diligent behavior. There were no housekeepers, nannies or any sort of help coming into our home. And West Indian cleanliness standards are meticulously perfectionistic to say the least.
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who observed my children don’t interrupt my conversations when I am on the phone. She was surprised by how my home was always quiet.
Below is a brief recap of the conversation I had with my friend.
Friend: how come your house is so quiet? Where are the kids?
Me: They are doing their own thing. One's in the games room and the in the craft room. Why?
Friend: I wish my boys would go off and do their own things. How did you get them to be independent?
Me: I raised them that way. (sigh while rolling eyes) I believe my children have to be able to cultivate their own interests on their own. Also, if every time I'm preoccupied I allow them to interrupt me whether I'm on the phone, talking to my husband or doing something and they want immediate attention, if I drop what I'm doing to cater to their needs, guess what? I just taught my children that they can interrupt me or whomever whenever they want. I’m also teaching them they are entitled to receiving an instantaneous response from anyone to feel validated.
They have to learn to WAIT or (in my patois voice) dem ha fi learn to wait.
In real life they can't just walk into their future boss’s office or any place in life and expect someone to drop what they’re doing to cater to their needs. I would be reinforcing to them demanding behavior. Additionally, if it's urgent tell them you'll be with them in a second by telling the person you're engaging to hold while you quasi-assess the urgency of the situation.
What’s funny is when I was young my parents let my brothers and I do our own thing. And I had friends whose parents did everything for them at the drop of a hat. Guess what? My brothers and I grew up to be completely independent, self-sufficient and those friends I once had still haven't grown up and are dependent their parents now. How are they still dependent on parents at age 36 or older?
Listen, I believe in old West Indian parenting minus switches and beatings, unnecessary yelling and teaching my kids to actually use their brains to find things they misplaced. I am not the keeper of their things. I do not make lunches, beds, give baths. I do not help with homework unless truly needed. I allow them to sign their school forms while I sign by overseeing those school trip forms. It is their responsibility to wash and fold their clothes, keep their bathrooms clean, dust and vacuum their bedrooms.
Friend: WOW! They can do all of those chores at age 8 and 10?!! But Janét, don't you have a housekeeper?
Me: Of course they can do all those chores at their age. I was doing all of those chores and more earlier than 8 years old. And YES!! The housekeeper is here to keep my part of the house clean!. My name is on the deed not theirs. ? Now, you understand why they are quiet!!! ?They don't have time to be idle. My mother said, "idle hands always mek trouble." My house is peaceful. I plan on keeping it that away. Or as the old West Indian saying goes, "they can find the door, the carpenter built." ???
It's interesting when we get older how much we realize the impact that our parents had on shaping us as people. If you allow children to be motivated in the upkeep of their lives, the chances are they will be able to upkeep life as adults more efficiently and effectively.