One of the qualities parents say they most want to instill in their kids is responsibility. However, it seems that more and more families are struggling with how to balance the demands of tough academic loads and extracurricular schedules against the very real need to teach kids to step up and be more responsible. Colleges are adding classes in “adulting” to their course catalogs, and everyone from middle school educators through graduate school deans are sounding the alarm over kids’ lack of basic life skills. But how do you enforce a chore chart when your teenager is putting in late nights mastering AP classes? And if you have to stand over your middle schooler to be sure expected tasks get done, is he really learning responsibility? Where’s the line between expecting kids to step up, and overloading a generation of already stressed-out young people with increasing to-do lists?
It can be overwhelming for both kids and parents to feel as though “teaching the art of adulting” is yet another item to be checked off each day. But the good news is, with just a few tweaks to your already-established family meal routines, you can pack big lessons about responsibility into a short window of time daily. And if you don’t have a consistent family meal routine yet, starting one — even just one day a week — could be the perfect way to kick-start a responsibility practice (while also getting you all the scientifically proven benefits of family dinners). Here are some ideas to help you teach responsibility through family dinners:
For more inspiration to help you instill responsibility through family dinner routines, check out these links.
See how the Donner Family from Nebraska uses a “helper rotation” to keep everyone involved
Learn from the Gonzalez Family of Washington State how their growing family divides dinner tasks
Get Dr. Anne Fishel’s Expert Advice on Adding Competence to the Mix with School-Aged Kids
Learn how to make the most of dinner with adolescents on our Food for Thought blog
This month, we’re highlighting a group of families whose dedication inspires us: Grandparents raising their grandchildren in difficult family circumstances. We’ve worked with these families through our nonprofit community programs, and are pleased to share their stories and wisdom.
This easy recipe for chicken chili was shared with us by a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher who’s an expert in helping kids build responsibility around mealtimes! It’s a great first recipe for a budding family chef.
It’s the perfect time of year for decorating cookies, and putting kids in charge of the task (and maybe making a list of recipients to give them to!) is a great way to build more skills.
Responsibility isn’t just about getting a job done; it’s also about learning to do good things for others. Teach the “giving” side of responsibility and enjoy the spirit of the season with these conversation starters.