Family is Team #1
You’ll often hear us talking about family as Community #1 or Team #1. At Parenting Power, we believe that our kids learn about community by living in a family; after all, kids live what they learn and learn what they live.
If we want kids to be an important, connected part of their communities (school, sports team, arts group, neighbourhood, or religious institution) then we need to start that teaching in our own homes.
Sometimes, we hear,
“My child is great at school and at soccer – he saves all the bad stuff up for us; no manners, disrespectful language, and he’s not doing his chores. I wish he was nicer at home.”
And why would this child change his behaviour? He is getting everything he needs at home, he gets driven to and from soccer practice, Mom and Dad cheer him on and pay for the extra coaching he needs. Meanwhile, he doesn’t treat them kindly at all and he does not take any responsibility in the family. Their words might ask him to change his behaviour, but their actions say, “Keep on doing what you are doing, we’ll take it.”
At Parenting Power, we believe in kids keeping commitments to their teams – showing up for practices on time, being there for the games. We also believe that no other teams matter if they aren’t keeping their commitments to Team#1…family. All other teams are a privilege. In order to earn that privilege, responsibilities to family need to be met first.
The language is, “When you are showing respect to your Team #1 members (Mom, Dad, Siblings, etc), then you are showing us that you are ready to head back to your other teams.”
In every family, the level of respect and commitment will be different. Do you know what’s expected in your family community? If you don’t, then your kids don’t either.
So how do you determine that? You can answer these questions:
What does respect look like? It might include items from the following list:
– Using manners
– Asking vs. Ordering
– Keeping a calm voice
– Looking at someone when speaking to them
– Treating equipment and items with care
– Managing hygiene
– Completing family chores
Does your child do any of these things outside the home?
Do you deserve the same level of respect as those outside your home?
The answer to the last question needs to be a resounding YES! Yes I do deserve at least the same level of respect that my child shows others outside the home.
Kids learn about 75% of us from our actions. When we do not expect respect from them, they learn that “People in our family do not need to be treated with respect.”
When we do expect respect from them, they learn that, “People in our family expect others to treat them with respect.”
Sure, it’s great for kids to behave with manners outside of the home… you have obviously done some great teaching when it comes to appropriate behaviours outside the home. The key now is to make sure that the same level of behaviour is being expected within the family. If it isn’t, we are fairly certain that too much time is being spent in arguments or fights. Life is too short to be living that way day to day with our closest relatives. It can change. You can change it.
Take some time to visualize your definition of Community #1. What’s required there? How does one share the responsibility of the community? How does one share the privileges that come from being a part of that community? The clearer you can get, the easier it will be for everyone to delight in the connection and interdependence that flourish in community.