Monday, May 14, 2012

What to Watch For

I know I've mentioned before about being raised pretty conservative. I've also mentioned before that my parents are surprisingly open-minded and accepting of me, their much more progressive daughter. This is all fine and well. It's great that I can still be close with my parents, despite that I have "strayed" so far from how I was raised.

Where I have trouble is in trying to figure out how much or little of certain aspects of my upbringing to pass on to my kids. There is a lot of it I question, some I still hold on to, and some I've completely discarded (or am probably still in the process of discarding).  So many of the things I'm trying to avoid passing on are more about the perceived guilt a person should have if they do or don't do certain things.  I don't see value in the guilt that comes from being taught that all things, views, and actions are either good or bad -- From being taught that you shouldn't do or think "X" because "X" is bad and you don't want to be bad.  Or, conversely, that you should always do "Y," because "Y" is good and you want to be good.

Just for grins, here are just a few things I do or don't do now that I still feel a twinge of guilt about when I least expect it.  These aren't necessarily things my parents specifically taught me were wrong, but I did learn/absorb the idea they were wrong as a result of the overall environment in which I was raised:
Having tattoos
Not abstaining from alcohol
Working Full-Time instead of staying home
Not having our family life revolve around church activities
Not homeschooling my kids
Not being Conservative
Not demanding unquestioning obedience from my kids

The more I think about it, the more I realize that while I'm working out some of the more specific aspects of what to pass on to my kids, I also need to be working toward an overall strategy that guids them yet avoids passing on these guilt issues.  I want to teach my kids to be wise.  I want to teach them to be kind.  To be generous.  To be helpful.  To be compassionate.  To be hard-working.  To be responsible and realize their choices and actions affect their own future and can affect others.

But I want to TEACH them these things.  Not guilt them into them.

So here is my newly formulated strategy: 

What to Watch For

This isn't rocket science.  I'm not saying I've invented some entirely new thing that is unlike anything anyone has ever done before.  I'm just saying this is what I'm going to try.  I'm adding our weekly What to Watch For to the boys' chore chart.  Every week we will have a new one, although some may be repeated every so often.  We will watch for ways to use wisdom.  Ways to be kind.  Ways to be generous, helpful, compassionate, hard-working, responsible, etc., etc., etc.

Maybe.... just maybe.... this will help me and help my kids to focus on thinking about what we do and what opportunities we notice.  Maybe it will help us to be aware and to be intentional and to make good choices about how we want to conduct ourselves.  I'm going to be watching positive results and for responsibility without the guilt.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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