Parenting Aces – Food for Thought #2

responsibilityThe Family and the Farm

The family lived on a farm and had many animals to be tended. The children showed in the livestock show, but also had responsibilities for other animals on the farm.

As the kids got older, they had chores regarding animals. In addition, they had responsibilities with crops and general farm work. As is usually the case, the kids were generally helpful,but could also be negligent with their chores.

Once they were old enough to show animals, they were considered old enough to carry the responsibility for feeding and watering the animals.  Sometimes, however, they’d show up to the dinner table without their chores being completed. This meant the cattle (sheep, pigs, goats, and cow) were not fed and had no fresh water.

The Rule

Chores were to be completed by 5:30 PM, and dinner was at 6.

One of the first questions asked at the dinner table was, “Have you fed your animals today?”

If the answer was “No,” the kids were sent back outside to do their chores before they could eat. They’d simply complete their chores and then come back inside to eat dinner. However, the scenario kept happening.


The Consequence

The dad found a way to have his kids do time for time.  To help teach responsibility and selflessness, he came up with a plan. The new rule stated that if the animals were not fed before dinner, Jack (or whoever was responsible) had to go feed the animals before he could eat. Not only that, the amount of time it took to feed the animals properly was the same amount of time he had to wait to eat once he got back inside to the table.

The new rule changed things.  Now, if the answer was “No,” said child was excused from dinner to go back outside and take care of his animals.  Once the animals were fed, the child was allowed to come back inside and sit down for dinner. However, he was not allowed to eat until he had waited the same amount of time the animals had waited past their normal feeding time. He’d sit there, watching food be passed around the table knowing he’d have to wait thirty (or more) minutes until he could eat. That’s how long the animals waited past their feeding time, so it was only fair he experienced waiting as they had.

Nixing Irresponsibility and Selfishness

Before the institution of this rule, the animals were fed negligently. The kids came home from school and had homework to do. They’d play or relax and the animals were forgotten. It was easy to become selfish and just look out for themselves, as though life was really just about them.

Once this rule was instituted – and enforced – the kids found it easier to remember that animals need to be fed regularly, too.

responsibilityFood for Thought

Smart dad, this one. He didn’t yell or ground the kids. He just made them wait to eat as long as the animals had to wait past their normal feeding time.

Once their negligence resulted in needing to wait to eat dinner, it was easier to remember.  Dad felt that when their negligence cost his kids something, their memory would improve.

It did. Strange how that works.







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