Our schools and our culture – especially in America, the land of “Rugged Individualism” – put a lot of emphasis on independence.
- Do your own work.
- Take responsibility for your actions.
- Work hard, get a job,
- Make your own way in the world.
Teaching children to become independent is good. It means teaching them virtues like responsibility, being true to one’s word, and making wise use of your time. Most parents naturally do a lot to encourage these lessons of independence.
But for the Catholic parent who wants his or her child to follow Jesus, independence cannot be the final goal of parenting. We can embrace and teach the virtues that independence brings. But in the end our goal is to teach our children how to love. To do that, we need to stretch beyond independence to interdependence.
Interdependence is the recognition that while we can provide for ourselves, we are still better off with the help of others. But we also have abilities and resources that can be used to help others. Interdependence goes beyond dependence because we become aware of our ability to provide. But it also goes beyond independence because it recognizes that our ability can be used to help others and to cooperate with others for everyone’s benefit.
This month’s challenge will help you build your family into a “community of persons.” Here’s what you do:
2. Download the challenge worksheet by clicking the button below.
3. The worksheet will ask you to assign chores to each of your children. But the most important part of the challenge is filling in the column describing how the chore contributes to the good of the family.
4. After you fill out this chart, post it on the wall or refrigerator. Ask the child to read the explanation for his or her assigned task before the task is completed. At the end of the week, have a table conversation about how each child contributed that week to the good of the family.
Bonus points: talk with your children about what unique skills they bring to the family and find a way for each child to contribute in a way that uses that child’s particular skills. Not every chore needs to correlate with a skill. But to have at least one special way that the child can contribute shows him or her how to use God’s gifts to serve others.)