Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Club Thursday: Mama Made the Difference- Lesson Five

Mamas Teach Us to Be Responsible


What a powerful chapter this was!  Not only did it make me thankful for the lessons in responsibility that I was taught, but it made me more determined than ever to teach my daughter the importance of responsibility.  As always, direct quotes from the book are printed in bold type.

It has been said that children learn from what they see.  Responsibility was taught to me not only by my mother but by my father as well.  Regardless of the state of health they were in, they would get up in the morning and go to work (Dad) or take care of their responsibilities at home (Mom).  Is it any wonder that when I began college, for the first 3 semesters I did not miss a day of class and never skipped a class?  Even when I had a cold, I would take symptom supressing medicine and head out on my one hour drive to college (I was a commuter- never lived on campus).  The reason my perfect attendence ended during my 4th semester was that I came down with the chicken pox!  I took my responsibilities at work the same way.  The most time I ever took off work was during my final year of teaching to either be with my mother in the hospital or during the allotted berevment time after her passing.

...I was responsible for several household chores and, of course, for my schoolwork.  My mother homeschooled us, so in addition to our academic studies, we were also given a very intense version of home economics.  My sister and I held different jobs in our home.  Mine included cleaning the kitchen after every meal (which is probably why I insist on a clean kitchen now), washing the dishes (the home we lived in did not have an electric dishwasher... it had a manual dishwasher- me!), and helping with laundry.  Faye also had a list of jobs that were hers.  We were responsible for taking care of these chores because in reality my mother had an even greater chore- being a helpmeet to my father and being a mother and teacher to her daughters, as well as cook, homekeeper, gardener, and much more. 

Our other responsibility was to complete all of our schoolwork well.  My parents did not have us get jobs during high school or during college (although during the summer we did get summer jobs).  They wanted us to understand that during the school year, school was our job and we had to do our best at it.  As a teacher, I also expected my students to do their best at their schoolwork, and would often tell them that being in school was their fulltime job while their parents were out working at their job.

Simply put, irresponsibility leads to low living.  It keeps people from developing the God-given potential that is within them and locks them in a prison of self-doubt and self-hatred.  Throughout my years as a teacher, I was amazed at what I saw in my students.  My first year, I saw how parents respected teachers and expected their children to do their best at their school work.  My students often told me about the chores they were responsible for at home, and when classroom discipline was necessary, parents were very supportive. 

However, through the years, things changed, and by my final year, I couldn't wait for Addie to be born so I could just step away.  Students were no longer expected by their parents to study, it was okay for them to forget their homework at home (Mom or Dad would make a quick trip on their lunch break to run a homework assignment down so the child would not be held accountable for forgetting his/her assignment), demerits were sent back with notes from the parents that their child could never have done what was written on the slip or that it wasn't their fault for having misbehaved, and the children sounded shocked that someone in the class might have had a chore to do when they got home.

Is it any wonder that during my first year, the grades in the entire class were just phenomenal, but as the years continued, the in class study-with-the-teacher time increased (and I am talking daily review for the upcoming quizzes and tests) and yet the grades were rather dissapointing?  Some of the students would even call themselves "stupid", and I would have to explain to them that they weren't.  Responsibility had been taken away from these children and so had their desire for reaching their potential and self-esteem.

On the other hand, being responsible positions a person for increase. To those who are faithful in small things much more will be given.  One thing that I did find during my years of teaching was that the children that were given chores and held acountable for their behavior and grades at school always did extrememly well.  Their parents knew that by giving their children age appropriate responsibility, they were setting their child up to succeed.

On the top of my prayer list every morning is this "to be faithful in the little", and further on down is "strength and desire for my responsibilities".  Being faithful in the little allows God to bless us with even more.  And let's face it, we don't always wake up wanting to take care of our responsibilities.  Asking God to help us to be faithful in the little and asking for strength and the desire to take care of the mundane shows God our willingness to be responsible where he has put us.

As your children grow from infancy to adulthood, you will naturally give them different types of responsibilities, appropriate to their season of life.  As you have read in past posts, we have already been giving Addie some responsibilities around our home.  She helps us do many of these things because, after all, she is only 2, but it is teaching her early on that she will be expcted to help our family by doing chores in the future. 

Accept- no, own- the responsibilities that belong to you.  As women, wives and/or mothers, we have been given a unique set of responsibilities by God.  We must always remember to own our responsibilities, because by doing so God will open us up for greater responsibilities. If you are married, be the best wife you can be. If you have a home, keep it well.  If you have one child, pour your heart into him/her. 

Be faithful in the little so God can bless you with greater.  By being the best wife to your husband, God will allow your relationship to grow and flourish.  If you rent but keep the home as if it were your own, God may allow you to own one day.  If your home is too small for your family but you use it for his glory and keep it well, God may grant you with a place with sufficient room.  If you care for the one child that God has blessed you with, may He bless you with more!

Homework for the heart:  Would you describe yourself as a responsibile person?  Why or why not? What did you learn about being responsible from the way your mother conducted herself and her duties?  In what ways do you wish your mother had been more responsible? Why? How can you improve on yourself in these areas?

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