Thursday, June 30, 2005

More service and self reliance

Yes, I am going to beat this subject into the ground...

Actually, I first want to say that when I wrote that the other day I was very tired and feeling rather UN-Christlike. I have now repented, and while I still struggle a bit with where to draw the line, I do know that erring on the side of service is the way to go. I try my best to just go and serve without judgment or bad attitude.

But all of my thoughts have led me to thinking of this topic as it relates to parenthood. Maybe what I was trying to say before will be more clear, and maybe I'll understand myself better after putting these thoughts to "computer screen" as well.

Okay, so as a parent, I am here to serve my child in many ways. I cook them dinner (sometimes, I realize Joel does this more often than I do), I do their laundry, I buy them clothes to wear and toys to play with, I concern myself with their educations, I teach them lots of important stuff, and the list could go on and on. But isn't another part of my parenthood to teach my children to function on their own? To develop self reliance? Isn't that the greatest service I can give them? To raise them so that when they leave the nest they are able to make a life for themselves and not need to come running to Mommy because they can't cook their own dinner or balance a checkbook?

In order to help my girls develop self reliance I give them chores. They both have set chores they are to do every day. Now I am the first person to admit that I do not always enforce the doing of said chores, but I honestly try. Because they have these chores, my 2 year old is already capable of loading a dishwasher and my 4 year old can make her bed pretty decently. They can both fold towels, match socks and put their own clothes away. They are both able to pick up the playroom and put toys where they are supposed to go, even though they cheat at this a lot and just put them wherever.

So, what if I were a parent who felt that children shouldn't do chores, because, after all, I am the parent and my sole purpose on this earth is to serve my children? So what if I made the beds every day until the kids are out of the house? Wouldn't I have actually done them a huge disservice when they leave home and discover that they don't know how to make a bed? Or at least they aren't in the habit of doing so, and as a consequence they drive their roommates bonkers because of their messiness? What if I decide I will never make my children help with the laundry? Would they even know to wash the whites, lights, darks and towels seperately? Would they know which temperature to use? Will they ruin all their clothes by putting things in the dryer or turning a favorite white shirt pink because they put it in with something red?

To this I do know the answer! It is a huge disservice to children to do everything for them...they won't learn and will be moochers for the rest of their lives. I don't want my children to be like that, so I make them do what I know they can do for themselves. That will continue to change as they get older, obviously. And every parent will have a slightly different idea of what is important for their own children to know and be able to do. That's okay, as long as we are teaching them to do for themselves.

So, the answers to the questions posed in my last entry are still somewhat ambiguous, but I do think we shouldn't do everything for people. We need to teach them to be self reliant. If they are having financial difficulties, we need to teach them to budget and live within their means while we are giving them the food they need and possibly helping them to pay their rent. We need to teach them how to be successful at finding and keeping employment. Those that expect the Church to clean their house for them need to be taught to do it themselves when possible. And then we serve as best as we can, because we don't have ultimate judgment. But I do think we might be judged if we don't teach self reliance while we are serving.

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime." This is the answer. It is just such a fine line, and like I said before, it is always better to just err on the side of service.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. I hear ya! I give Conner jobs to do and my mom's always said the moment they put that baby in your arms, your job is to prepare it to not need you. I mean, they'll always need us (As I do my mom) but I don't want them to collapse without me. I think the church teaches self-reliance, but people are so "me" oriented I'm guessing God will have to sort it out, and until then, I'll do what I'm able... and scrapbook the rest of the time.

  2. I was there I know this to be true! Lara left her stuff to be done to do others things. AAaaaaahhhhhh, it was great to help out, but now someone needs to help HER!!!!!! But she won't ever ever ask for it, so guess what my job is? Yes, because I love her forever and a day, I will help her, and it's not because she can't do it, that's just it, she can anything, she just has TOO much more to do than the average person,there isn't 72 hours in a day just 24. n SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Lara please holler when you are just before your breaking point! I love you Mom