As parents, we are faced with many opportunities to challenge our kids every day. I often think about who I want my kids to become. Without a doubt, I want them to make a difference in this world by seeing the needs of others and doing something about it. To be a Contributor rather than a Taker. Knowing this, I have to ask myself: how am I forming their hearts today? A field trip to the pioneer settlement triggered these thoughts. I had plenty of time to ponder them on the bus ride back to school. One simple question began to well up inside of me. This one question activated a response within my kids that took them from standing on the sidelines to becoming an active contributor in our home.
My daughter walked beside me, her hand in mine. I love that she will still hold my hand in front of her peers. Her friends surrounded us as we toured a pioneer settlement. We listened to a “Pioneer Mom” talk about how the kids had to churn butter or pump water before they could play. The lady demonstrating the spinning wheel shared how the making of new clothes for a growing child took much time and effort. Preparations needed to be made months in advance. The kids in each family would assist by combing through the newly-sheared wool or picking the seeds from the cotton bundles. They helped prepare the resources of thread, yarn, and fabric to be used in making their clothes.
I always imagined life being simpler back then (probably because I didn’t pay much attention in history class). But I realize now that it was hard work. The daily load required involvement by every family member. Everyone had a job to do.
Being A Contributor
One message rang loud and clear: Every person in the family was a contributor.
A Contributor. Someone who puts the needs of others first and gives what they have to meet those needs.
Pioneer kids learned how to be contributors starting at a young age. Their lifestyle forced them to be engaged in family life and to a develop strong work ethic. Kids learned the value of hard work as they were put to work. As they began to use their skills, they looked beyond themselves to meet the needs of those they lived with. They learned how to complete tasks with excellence because everyone would benefit from it. They felt accomplished at the end of the day when the family came together and rested.
Pioneer kids became adults well equipped and ready to contribute to society. This development occurred in childhood.
How Do We Teach Our Kids To Become Contributors?
As we raise our children, we must show them the value of hard work. It’s not enough to model it for them, though. We must allow our kids to stand side-by-side with us and get their hands dirty. To train them in a variety of tasks age appropriately. As they’re being taught, we must give them plenty of opportunities to develop these skills.
This is where intentional parenting comes into play.
I know the outcome. What am I doing today to accomplish this? Am I raising my kids to become contributors?
These questions go beyond getting your children to do chores. I’m a firm believer in everyone helping around the house. But this concept of being a contributor is less about checking off the to do list and more about training our children to give back.
In answering these questions, I examined my parenting skills closely. I noticed many missed opportunities in raising my kids to be contributors. You see, each afternoon as we return home from school and work, I find myself juggling backpacks, cups, books, and more. My kids jump out of the vehicle. They bounce happily into the house without a care in the world. It sometimes takes me two trips to move all of our items from the car to the front door.
One day, I sat in my driveway tired of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I began thinking to myself: This has got to change! I lectured my kids on being responsible for their belongings and lending a helping hand. But I knew if change were to take place, this concept had to go deeper. It couldn’t just be a passing thought but rather an attitude they adopt in their hearts. If the value of being a contributor became rooted in their hearts, I knew it would flow out of them naturally.
One Question That Changed How My Kids Contribute
That’s when one question changed it all.
I taught them to ask: Is there anything I can do to help you?
It’s a simple question. Maybe an obvious one. Yet, teaching my kids to ask this question has been a game changer. And yes, it took some time to teach them to ask it. But in doing so, my kids have become more aware of the needs around them.
When my kids are done getting ready in the morning with time to spare, and they see I’m still doing many, many tasks…it’s asking: Is there anything I can do to help you?
If their little brother is walking around with just one sock on (and by now he should have both shoes on), and they see he is struggling…it’s asking: Is there anything I can do to help you?
When we get home and they see someone with their hands full…it’s asking: Is there anything I can do to help you?
This question takes them beyond what they are expected to do. It’s a question that opens their eyes to the endless possibilities around them. And it’s working! I’m beginning to hear my kids ask this question without prompting.
They are stepping up proudly and seeing how meeting a basic need makes a great contribution! They are learning to value others and in return, they feel valued because they are contributing.
Let’s Raise Contributors!
God creates each day with great purpose, and we get to be a part of it. He wants us to live and love like Jesus, and that means opening our eyes to the needs around us. God places people in our path each day. Being a contributor means looking beyond ourselves and meeting the needs of those around us. Every single one of us has so much to offer. It’s waking up with each new day, eyes wide open and hearts ready. By getting this concept into their hearts, I pray my kids and yours too will be ready at any given moment to offer help to those who need it. To be contributors, not just in the home, but everywhere they go.
For our kids to see the needs of others and respond.
To be a contributor simply because they can.
Simply because God calls them to.
And in the moments when we are not with them, they will look around. They will see the needs all around them. And with a great big smile, they will ask: Is there anything I can do to help you?
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