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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Teaching responsibility

I am a mom, and it was just a matter of time.

This year I found myself uttering that sentence, yes, that one, the one that is so cliché it makes me cringe: "They grow up so fast!". My oldest daughter, Sarah, turned 9. She is tall, with long legs like her dad, and dark brown eyes like me. She is wonderful.

Sarah is growing, she is quickly approaching her tweens, and it shows. Because although I do mean it when I say she is wonderful, she is also developing her own personality, her own tastes, and starting to make up her own mind about more and more things - which translates into her disregarding what I ask her to do, or what I recommend she wear for the day, and so on. It's fine, it's normal. Except I do want her to know the difference between duties and hobbies, between things that need to be done and things that are nice or fun to do.

It's the eternal question for a parent: finding the line between letting them develop their own tastes, form their own personality, make their own decisions and giving them enough guidance to make the right decisions, not to become spoiled brats. Of course the best thing is to set a good example. But kids don't spend the whole day at home - how to make up for any bad influences they might get? We all know that at a certain age, what our friends do seems so much cooler than what our parents do, especially if they go in opposite directions.

But recently I found a tool on MomCentral that I feel helps me show that playing "on my team" is also cool: The Responsibility Project. Sarah enjoys watching the videos, empathizes with many of the characters and forms her own conclusions, based on what she sees. Sometimes she likes me watching with her or discussing the topic with her, other times she lets a few days pass before she bring it up - almost as if the video she saw provided her with food for thought and she needed time to form an opinion, decide where she stood on the topic or issue. That's how I like to think of it, at least; I like to think she she is reflecting on how to treat others, giving help when it's needed, being nice without expecting anything in return. And she likes to have the chance to form her own opinions.

It's a win-win.

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