Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaching Roles Better

One of the things I've learned and thought about in the last week is that I need to do a better job of teaching my children what their roles are.  From the Proclamation we know that men are to: preside, protect and provide.  Women are taught that they are to nurture. 

I've learned that it doesn't matter if you are married or have children you are still responsible for the discharge of those roles.  I think of Sheri Dew and all her stories of spending time with her nieces and nephews as an example of how to nurture even when not a mother.  Of course how we carry out these roles will look different based on if we are married and have children or not. 

These are our most important roles.  They are more important than our callings, our visiting teaching or our civic service.  Being a nurturer should be our first concern when we look out to others.

I've been thinking about this a lot.  How do I teach that?  How do we live it?  What attitudes do I need to change?

We have always said, "You will nurture and you will preside, provide and protect."  They have those roles down pat.  I realized I could do more than have them memorize it though,  I could help them learn and practice it now, because they should be doing performing their roles now anyway.

The following are some things we did, ideas only for you.
  • Determination (10) is now assigned to work outside our home and to take care of it.  He works in conjunction with his father to care for the outside. (lawn, weeds, bikes, gardening tools, etc) We are teaching him that by taking care of the outside of the home he is symbolically protecting our family.  His job when he is a father or older brother/son will also be on the outside.  He will in time provide for us/his family and this will also be done outside our home.  Though not an outside kid by nature he has absolutely loved having this responsibility.  He has become happier and much more dependable.  He takes his role very seriously.  He's not complained once when he is sent outside to take care of the outside.
  • For now the younger two boys are inside still learning cleaning jobs.  Determination knows most jobs and when the snow flies he will have more time to work inside and practice those skills.  All of the boys do occasionally get sent outside for chores if there are big projects.  When the snow comes they will probably all work on shoveling.
  • Liberty (12) has latched on to understanding that it is her and my job to make sure the house is clean and orderly.  She understands that the littles are just there to help right now but it is our job to keep the inside clean.  Also she helps me with all the cooking, which she has always done, but now she is learning to do it because she wants to serve and love the men in her life not just because it's fun.  She is also improving her sewing skills so she can contribute to the family.  She made three skirts by herself last week and right now she is making a second scripture bag.  She helps with needed mending.
As they have learned to do certain jobs that are under their God-given stewardships they feel much freer and peaceful.  When I told them their new assignments they let out an air of relief.  I was finally letting do what they were sent here to earth to do. Whew.  Glad I realized it sooner than later.

I have a testimony in the teachings of the Proclamation to the World on the Family.  As I live the teachings I know I find greater peace and happiness.


Amy said...

Other things we've implemented:
Boys open doors for girls (and mom), walk on the street side of the sidewalk and look for ways to help carry heavy things the us. This was implemented after we spoke to our son (9) about the purpose tying back to the proclamation and his natural desire to protect women and children. He even opens my door when I'm driving the car. He loves it.

Our son had been the primary diaper changer and baby dresser for his 2 y.o. brother until a couple weeks ago. We handed that responsibility off to his 8 y.o. sister who needs to learn more of those nurturing skills.

I've suffered a bit of "Christian envy" for all the support within the non-LDS Christian community to raise a boy to provide and protect and to raise a girl to mother and nurture. I'm grateful there are others who are wanting to boldly raise their children to fulfill these godly roles.

Just Lara said...

My son needs to learn to cook and clean so he can do it for himself on his mission and help his wife as needed but I know he is happier when he is doing manly jobs so I give him as many as possible.

My daughter loves baby care, cooking and sewing but she also likes to try out "boy" things. She usually doesn't last long though and is happy to get back to more feminine duties.

I have had to explain to her that it's ok for us to "let" the men do things for us because it makes them feel good. Last year when my husband got stuck in the snow on the way to church she was dying to get out and help dig and push so we had to have a long talk while they were working about why it was better for us to sit in the car, stay out of the way and show lots of gratitude when they were done.

Rebekah said...

Wow! You are so inspiring! Once again a post on something I haven't thought of but should have. The primary song that I want as our family theme song "The Family is of God" states these things but I haven't applied this truth the way you pointed out. I need to do more thinking and praying and applying. Thanks for this post.

crazy4boys said...

I don't have a daughter to help me....what will I do????? *slightly hyper-ventilates*

So this is what I'm thinking, tell me if I'm way off.

The boys need to learn basic skills of cooking, cleaning, laundry and so on. They will need to function on their missions, in college and possibly for a bit before they find a wonderful wife. And when she's really sick with pregnancy or has a newborn. So teaching them these roles/skills is not damaging to them, it is allowing them independence and preparing them for the future.

After they have learned those skills though they need to move into more "masculine" roles like lawn work, home repair, outside stuff. Leaving me with the entire inside....*breathe, Heather, breathe*

However, they STILL need to maintain responsibility for cleaning their own stuff. They would still need to pick up their toys, their books, their dirty clothes. The work left to me would be the cleaning of the counters, floors, etc., the cooking and maybe the laundry.

Would it be inappropriate to have the boys, as they are older, be responsible for their own laundry? And for maybe once a week or once a month, to keep those skills fresh?

I want to raise manly men. But I also want men that can care for themselves if needed. There are only so many outside chores for a family with 4 sons!!!! How do I balance this?

Angela said...


This might be slightly different but my husband doesn't like just saying I'll do my thing inside and he'll do his outside, etc. Or, to put it differently the idea of me doing all the inside womanly chores and him working outside does not appeal to him. I'm fine with it but we are one and prefer to work as one. Of course I get all the cleaning and most of the cooking done when he's at work. But on Fridays and Saturdays we work together so that we can be one rather than two people working independently.

After reading headgates I tried to do the my work, his work (and we do stand by the inside of the house is mine and the outside his) and he did not like it. There are certain foods that he likes to make (homemade noodles and biscuits) and teach the boys how to do it(ours are four and six). Often when he is working outside I'm either helping him or at least reading so that we're together.

As far as kids go I believe it is VERY important to have your teenage boys do their own laundry. It teaches responsibility and how to do it but also they have to depend on themselves to have clean clothes. I was sick for 4 years and if my husband hadn't been raised knowing how to cook and clean we'd have been in poor shape. I think having them always do their own laundry would be just fine.

As for girls I believe it is important to sit back and let the men do their work, if you live in a harsh/snowy climate it is also important before they get to driving age to learn and have ample practice for things like car repairs and more importantly digging cars out. I've had to do that myself a few times.

Anyway definition of responsibility is very important but knowledge and practice in the other gender's domain is equally important.

My two cents.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Lara-My daughter has had a hard time "letting go" also. She more naturally enjoys doing the outside things. She is learning that while it is okay to do the outside things her primary focus needs to be on the inside. She has really enjoyed taking over the cleaning department.

Crazy (aka Heather)- I think there should be a cross training like Angela suggests. It is important that our youth are prepared for everything that will come, such as their missions. I feel that I just need to make sure that they understand where their focus should lie.

About the laundry. I've been thinking about that. It does seem ideal to just have them do it on their own. But I have a reoccuring that with that though. Is that encouraging them to be individualists instead of part of the family? I don't know the answer to that only because I think that they should clean up their room and how is that different than doing their laundry? Right now all of my children know how to do the laundry from start to finish. I think that as they continue to do laundry together as a family they will continue to learn and be able to do it when they leave the house.

So I don't know. I don't want to promote individualism. What are your thoughts on that?

I appreciate all you comments.

crazy4boys said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I absolutely know that boys should learn how to do housework, I'm just trying to decide if after they have learned it well, do they get a break from it to focus on studies or more manly chores? I would have been dead a thousand times over if my husband didn't help with laundry and cleaning and such.

I'm at war with myself on "roles". I believe in family work. I think it builds wonderful bonds and facilitates great discussion as well as teaches to serve and love one another. I'm trying to find the balance of family work with individual responsibility with proper roles.

I can see laundry going two ways - one, it might create individualism. But two, it teaches personal responsibility (and we are all responsible for our own choices and the consequences they bring). I remember having to go to school with damp jeans far too many times because I didn't do laundry when I was supposed to. It taught me to be more aware of my time and that of others because there were 7 of us doing laundry, not including my mom. So I'm not sure.

I just know I don't want to raise little whiner babies - I visited home when my youngest brother was 16. He asked me to make him toast and I told him to do it himself. HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW!!!! Then he complained that he didn't have clean clothes and I told him to go wash some. HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW!!!!! Well, he learned how right then and there. He was just sitting at home, doing nothing, while my mom worked full time and went to school full time AND washed all his laundry. Maybe he should have been in charge of all the laundry. Hmmmm, maybe that's a way to approach laundry. Each month a different boy (or mom) could be in charge of the family laundry. That way they are still helping the family, but they are learning to care of a home (and others).

Still processing.....I appreciate all the ideas and discussion.