10 Ways to Make Yourself Dispensable

Teach your children the words to use when asking for help. Role-play with them so they can practice a few times. Empower them by teaching them this important skill.

(7) Make materials accessible. Use the lower shelves in cupboards for glasses, bowls, and silverware. Keep your children's cereals and other relevant food items within their reach. Keep the chips and other occasional treats up high in your cupboards. If you set up your kitchen this way, your children do not have to come to you all the time for supplies.

Stock the lower shelves in the refrigerator with milk, juice, and other items that they use frequently. Keep markers, glue, paste, tape, paper and other appropriate art supplies within reach. Place the hot glue gun out of reach, of course.

(8) Teach children to solve their own problems. Do not say, "Don't say anything to your mother. I'll handle it for you. I know your mother well and I can catch her in a good mood." All this teaches your child is that you see him as not capable of handling situations himself.

Instead, say, "You're going to have to handle this with your mother. Let me teach you what I know. I generally try to catch her in the afternoon because she gets real busy in the morning. If she's having a bad hair day, forget it. Also, she responds better if you make it sound like a suggestion rather than a demand. Hopefully, these tips will help. I know you can handle it. Let me know how you make out." This style of speaking announces to your child that you believe in him and that you see him as capable.

(9) Your job is to give your children a system. Their job is to use it. Yes, buy your daughter a Taekwondo bag and teach her where all the equipment goes. When you buy it and teach her how to use it, your job is done. It is her job to use the system.

Teach your child how to organize his homework. His job is to organize it. Teach your child a system for respecting family books. His job is to use it.

(10) Refrain from rescuing children from experiencing the legitimate consequences of their actions. Do not rescue, save, bail them out, let them slide, accept excuses, or fail to hold them accountable for the choices they make. When you refuse to protect children from the choices they make, you allow them to take responsibility for their lives.

Raising responsible children is not an easy task. It takes effort, energy, and persistence. You can do it best when you purposefully take steps to make yourself dispensable.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose, (Personal Power Press) and Couple-Talk.

Copyright © Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.