How centered is the ballast in your family?
Did you know that boats of all kinds must have ballast? The ballast can be anything from the weight of the crew, to a keel that is made of iron, lead or concrete which sits low in the water. Why is a ballast so necessary you may wonder? Because a ballast provides the balance for the boat in the water and improves stability and control. If there is not enough ballast, the boat will tip or even capsize in excessively high winds. Another definition of ballast is (Merriam Webster.com): something that gives stability (as in character or conduct) When I was a young mom, I admit I was periodically tossed about by the winds of others opinions and what they felt was the most important elements for my children. I often wondered what was truly important of all the options and extra-circular activities available to help them have all the advantages and opportunities I could give them. Now, years later, may I share with you what I feel will give children a secure ballast to withstand the winds of life.
- Religion – children must be taught values, morals, ethics and God’s commandments. As a family practice your faith together.
- Strong work ethic – children (of all ages) need to feel, notice the word ‘feel’ (experience if you’d prefer) the consequences and rewards for earning money and how to allocate it.
- Children need to learn skills that will allow them to hold a job when they are an adult. It starts with such simple tasks as taking out the garbage and making sure they follow through. As a child gets older, the chores increase in difficulty and responsibility.
- NO excuses for not earning their own money, particularly when they reach the teenage years. They can mow lawns, babysit, clean, any number of odd tasks to teach the life skill of doing a job well and finishing a task.
- Helping your child learn the benefits of work will give confidence and a self assurance into their adulthood, and through their life.
- Responsibility –
- Allow your child to take responsibility for them self with money and other choices. It is much better to learn hard lessons when the stakes are not high as later when they have their own family.
- Give them choices, within limits, according to their age. An example for a child would be: which of these two shirts would you like to wear. As a teenager, the choice could be which place they will work at to provide for the extra’s they want.
- Service – create opportunities as a family, and for each child/teen individually to serve without any expectation of reward or recognition. And to learn to serve without ulterior motives, meaning they will not ‘get something’ for doing something for another person.
- Teach gratitude for what others have done. Be involved in family and expect your children to as long as they are at home. When on their own, encourage participation in family outings, traditions and events.
- Culture –
- Music: My parents married young which meant I grew up listening to their music. My kids consequently grew up with Tom Jones, Dean Martin, the Beatles as well as music from my high school years. We also listened to classical music and many wonderful composers. Expose your family to good music of all genres. It seems that our teen years are the most impressionable and music is a central focus for most between the ages of 10 and 17 or so. Do your best to monitor vulgar, inappropriate lyrics and music. It will, without question, influence your family and the atmosphere of your home, even if you are not listening to it as a parent.
- Movies: Old movies, musicals and great entertainment were the norm at our home. Sunday evenings we watched good shows together with treats and now share many wonderful memories of those times together. Some moaned at the time, but bring it up with fondness now.
- Books: Many nights we sat together and I would read aloud from all types of good books, depending on the age of the kids, from ‘The Box Car Children’ to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ , “Hatchet’, Aesop’s Fables, the list goes on with too many books to name.
- Make the time, a place and provide a quiet atmosphere (as much as possible with a house of kids!) for school work to be completed.
- Physical – get out and walk together, play ball, involve the kids in sports or physical activities using care that it does not usurp family time and important obligations.
Just as a boat must have a ballast to help it have stability in the water, our children must have a ballast to withstand the winds of trial and difficulties that come with life. As a parent, one of the greatest gifts we can give is balance and ballast; ‘skill’s, that are lasting and will serve them well all through their life. Parenting is not easy, nor does it always work out the way we anticipate, but the rewards of raising resilient, confident, responsible and hard working men and women are worth all the effort. Keep up the great work, and know how much you are appreciated.
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today!