It is quite obvious that my fourteen-month-old son knows he is part of this family—not just as the baby, but as a member of the team. They say that a family that prays and plays together stays together, but I think it is even truer if they pray, play and WORK together. Playing together is good—it is fun and a child can be entertained by it—but it will never give them the feeling of being part of a team. Last week someone asked my husband and me, “How do you get your three year-old (our younger daughter) to want to be a part of what you are doing?” Our answer was automatic, “They need to be a part of everything you are doing from the time they are born.” If you wait until they are three years old you will have to create extra tasks they can do with you that are both work and fun to get them interested. Once they get the hang of it, they will want to be a part of your everyday life. If I were in the kitchen and my girls were not both there getting in the way and fighting to see which one gets to help Mom, I would think they were sick or had been kidnapped. Even as I write, my six-year-old Gracie wants to help. I tell my husband the only bad thing about teaching your children to help is that you cannot get anything done. But I am convinced that the most important thing in life is not the cleanliness and order of the house, nor the efficiency with which I complete my chores, but to raise my children to be all they can possibly be.
Parker, my fourteen-month-old is already a team/family member. When I am sweeping the floor, he goes and gets the dustpan without being told. If the girls are cleaning up toys, he is there helping. When Daddy brings in the wood, he always helps out by carrying bark. My girls need to be told, “Good job! Way to go! You are such good helpers,” with lots of hugs and kisses. I praise them to their daddy, “Your girls were so much help today.” Praises are very important for them, just as it is important for wives to feel appreciated. But Parker needs very little praise; he thinks he is great all by himself—nobody needs to tell him. He gets my shoes and then swaggers about, smiling from ear to ear because he is so proud of himself. Whether I tell him thank you or not, he knows he is great. Just like a man! It is so funny. We are just raising little moms and dads. I always keep that in mind as I train my daughters and my son. I think about what kind of parents they will become and what can I do now to make them even better.