To understand my philosophy on raising children, you must be familiar with Aesop’s Fable, “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.”
The story is so old that there are many versions, my favorite is done by Samuel Croxall. A man owns a goose that lays a golden egg daily. He tells the goose to lay two eggs a day, the goose tells him to pound sand, and the owner kills the goose.
We can all be like the goose, let me explain:
Babies are amazing creatures, they are wild, unbalanced. They can sleep anywhere. Their laugh will bring a smile to your face, and their tears will convince you to do anything to make it stop.
As our babies are growing, we do everything for them. It can be exhausting and frustrating.
I will never forget the day I wanted to clean the house before my wife came home. I would clean the room and close the door; my two children would open the door and play in the room.
I was the goose, lay shiny golden eggs of cleanliness, food, clean diapers, and rock-a-byes.
My wife was really THE GOOSE because she gave those babies breast milk.
The family lives together as geese (parents) and owners (children) for years; until that day, the child tries to help momma and daddy.
Here is were we geese can mess it up. We parents are busy and want to have everything done now so we can move on or finally take a break. The other issue is our children kinda suck at doing everything.
There will come a point where you want your kids to do things for themselves like a healthy functioning adult. To raise an adult, you cannot raise a child.
I see many children in the adult world today, and they cannot lay golden eggs.
If we want to be honest, they can’t lay a silver or bronze egg.
The other issue is they kinda suck at doing everything.
Here is how we are raising children to be geese that lay golden eggs…
To be a goose, you first have to be a gosling and make it to adulthood. On the way to adulthood, you have to be taught how to be an adult goose. This happens when the parent walks them through how to do everything in life, from eating to personal hygiene and making a nest.
I am walking each of my children through as many things as I can before they are adults. I simply guide them on how to do certain things, what was missed, and how to fix it.
The marker for completion also slides, my 6 year old knew that when he made his bed, it would be to the standards of a 6 year old and my 10 year old for a 10 year old.
The children will become baby geese and produce sucky eggs, then bronze, silver, and finally gold.
Getting better quality eggs will take time, a lot of YOUR time. Here are some suggestions on how I have done this well over the years.
*Note my oldest child is 10 so I can only speak to that, not tweens or teenagers.
1. Mentally prepare yourself for the long haul.
Just accept that you will be there 4 to 10 times as long as it would usually take if the child is doing it by themselves and 2 to 3 times as long if you are working as a team.
2. Do not be a perfectionist.
Whatever the child is doing, it will not look like you did it. That is okay, you should be proud of what they did and watch them get better and better. Imagine being little and trying to help mom or dad. After putting in your reasonable effort, you heard, “Not good enough.”
3. Encourage your child’s current work and show them a brighter future.
If your 5 year old put his blanket in the right direction and has the pillow on the right end. I consider that a win. We show off his significant accomplishment to his mom because he did it all by himself.
Now, my 8 year old put the blanket on wrong and had a pile of stuff on the bed. I made my son redo it and showed him what was expected.
This is the same child, 3 years later.
The thing is, though, my eldest daughter doesn’t need to be told much. For her, at about 9, she just “got it.” She would clean up dog and cat poop while rarely complaining, and she will wash the dishes with the same poor accuracy night after night as a part of her routine. I correct her dishes as a part of my routine.
We always talk about how things will be easier and more natural.
4. Bring a book.
For tasks that the child can do on their own, but won’t… bring a book or something else. Tell them their responsibility, and you read your book. Glance up and check on them, then keep reading.
I have written newsletters, budgeted our finances, read the newspaper, and written articles while guiding the child through their chore.
The cool part was the child was on task for longer, and the job got done quicker.
Once your children are laying golden eggs, love and encourage them on their excellent work. Do not always be trying to get more out of them.
If you keep pushing your children will crumble and fail. It will be your fault for pushing too hard.
You will have cultivated, grown, and nurtured a child into someone who can help themselves and then wreck them in a moment because you were treating them like an adult.
When you focus on the progress more than the results, your children will focus on getting better and better.