Tuesday, May 1, 2012

“You deserve this because…?” The Joy of Giving (and keeping track…)

 by John and Diane

Monday morning 6am.

One of my foster boys comes up to me and, as the appointed spokesperson of the entire foster-son clan proclaims “We want to go roller-skating tonight!”

“You do hey?” I replied, thinking over the weekend’s activities and reaching for my first cup of coffee.  I approached it from my usual “love and logic” way.

“Well, what did you guys do this past weekend to have earned the right to go roller-skating?”

The spokesperson for the group was able to list off several chores and good deeds he had completed over the weekend including washing my van.  Unfortunately for him, these were all chores I paid him for, so they don’t go into the “good behavior” coffer.  I told him so. 

The other two boys couldn’t really even come up with anything that they had done for me over the weekend.  When they mentioned their usual housecleaning chores, I reminded them of what poor jobs they did, and how their laziness actually made more work for me, including extra loads of laundry late on Sunday night!

“You guys all just did as little work as possible this weekend. You did your chores, but you didn’t do any of the details. You were really slacking.”

“ You were slacking too John” said spokes-kid number 1.

Oh My God.  This is why I love the “Love and Logic” method, because now I was unable to unleash (in the gentlest way possible of course. Heh heh heh) the litany of things I had done around the house and for them all weekend.

“Slacking? Really? I was slacking? Let’s see, I let you guys watch movies and stay up late on Friday, then you yelled at me on Saturday morning, then I took you all fishing twice this weekend, I baited your hooks and helped you with your line when you needed it, I took you shopping so you could buy your Dad a birthday gift, I gave you wrapping paper, I bought you all ice cream, we had a picnic, I made you dinner, and did the dishes, I had two pipes burst in the house and I fixed those and had to clean up the mess and you kids did not offer to help, I drove you where you all needed to be, I played tag with you, I did your laundry, which you did not even fold, and you guys did nothing unless I paid you for it, and what you DID do, you didn’t do very well.  AND now you think you have EARNED the right to go roller-skating tonight?”


“ The only person that deserves anything here is me, and I deserved you guys all to do a better job, and yet you called me a ‘slacker.”

I slurped my coffee for effect.

“Sorry Dad/ John” came the mumbled responses. 

I know this might sound like just your average parent /kid conversation, but it is a really good technique I use a lot with my kids.  I remind them of all the things I do for them… and the usual Lack of things they do for me, unselfishly (without payment.) This reminds them of the difference between the things we do for money and the things we do for love or out of respect for someone else.

It is a good reminder to RAD kids of what caring about another person is and how we show it (through selfless acts) and a reminder to the other kids in the house that even though I do things for them… it is MY choice to give to them, and that they cannot demand or expect treats and luxuries like roller-skating or movies or ice cream. They are at my discretion. Thereby reinforcing my role as head-of-household. 

The joy of giving is only made sweeter with the blessing of a good memory.

image: adapted from flicker image: 
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  1. Sounds like you had quite the weekend! That is a good tool to use at any age for your children, whether they are RAD or not...thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thanks Angela, for your support, I appreciate your comments and input!
    (via Diane)