As my children get older, I’ve been examining the requests I make of them, particularly when I’m asking them to do something for me.
Am I using my authority for my own selfishness and comfort [Will you run up the stairs and help your sister?] or because I genuinely need the help? Would I be happy if my children did all the housework while I eat bon bons and read books [assuming they wouldn’t revolt]?
I noticed that when one of them asks for help, I’m far quicker to have one of the children meet the need than stop what I’m doing to help. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I’ve also noticed that at times, they have expressed frustration when I sit down with a cup of coffee while they’re working. They’re keen on fairness right now. They don’t always understand that my desire for them to do chores isn’t merely because I need help with the cleaning, but because we’re a family and we all contribute. Moreover, learning to do a thing well [like cleaning a bathroom] takes practice, and they need more practice than I do right now on some things. When I’m helping them accomplish their chores, I’m not making progress on my own.
Even though some of their frustration is borne out of ignorance and childishness (making business calls or taking care of bills on the computer doesn’t look like “work” to them, and they don’t always notice when I’m working as they play), it’s a helpful window into their perceptions of my actions. Their reactions have also been helpful because they cause me to examine my own actions and motives.