Yesterday, I heard a cool insight into children (and all people for that matter).
The speaker shared the following:
“We all want to ‘matter’. But what does that mean? A psychologist suggested the following three part test. A child thinks that s/he matters if three things are true.
· First, other people notice them.
· Second, other people care about them.
· Finally, other people rely on them.”
Darn. That last one got me.
Susie Ma’am and I have loved being parents and feel like we have done a pretty decent job. We have three adults who are enjoying college (22, 22 and 21) and one that just graduated high school. They seem to enjoy spending time with us and they delight in each other’s company. All indications suggest that they will, in fact, someday be gainfully employed.
So we are not hanging our heads low. But as I read that definition, I had the following thoughts, “We have always noticed and loved our children. They feel our love and appreciate our attention. But did we 'rely' on them as much as we could have?”
To be honest, we only had a small handful of chores that they had to do, so we did not rely on them as much at home. They always had to do their own homework and self-advocate with their teachers without us, so I guess that is a type of reliance. But I think we could have expected more from them.
Luckily, they went to camp. [Note: each of our children attended at least one out-of-state camp in addition to Camp Champions.]
At camp, people regularly rely on them to do things. Campers all need each other daily – to pass cabin inspection, to organize a skit or clean their table. The photo above shows the chores chart for one of the youngest girls’ cabins in the dining hall.
The campers help create and enforce their own rules. As the campers get older, their responsibilities increase. In short, we rely on them more and more.
As I look at our society, it seems we excel at noticing and caring, but are slow to rely on our children.
So I am especially happy that our children (and yours) are at a place that they are seen, loved AND relied upon. At camp, children really matter.