Some of the experiences the children and I have had engaging experiment self-responsibility during January and February are as follows.
Izzy’s gazebo guy ropes disintegrated a couple of weeks after purchasing the gazebo so that she had nothing holding down the gazebo. We had some high winds and the gazebo blew over completely destroying the structure (the metal twisted and broke). Izzy was really angry when she found out, instead of letting herself feel her anger she suppressed it, a sty flared up in her left eye overnight.
I engaged addictively with Izzy about the gazebo, instead of having her take full responsibility for the disposal of the gazebo I took it to the waste refuse station for her. After we had dumped the gazebo (on the way to school one morning) Charlie said to me, ‘mum you just did the job for Izzy and she didn’t have to take full responsibility for it.’ I said, ‘I totally engaged in an addiction you are absolutely right.’ Once I realised this I had all these ideas about what I could have done to help Izzy feel the full consequences of the experience, but due to my addiction to ‘help’ her and have her not be so angry I took away opportunities for both of us.
Note cheap gazebos are not worth buying and create landfill (rubbish) if they blow over.
Charlie noticed that a week into setting up his tent that a large fungi was growing up through his ground mat under his tent.
He showed it to me and I asked him what he was going to do about it.
He decided to leave it until he packed up his tent.
This is an attitude that the children have ‘leave it for later’. They don’t realise that leaving things till later exacerbates issues often making them worse. Over the next weeks the fungus grew larger and larger slowly eating into his ground mat.
Charlie spent a couple of hours cleaning the fungus off his ground mat and tent some weeks later.
I noticed that the children didn’t have an appreciation about the food they are gifted every week or any idea about costs or going without certain food items in a week.
They have always had plenty of food and added multiple items to the trolley as we go round the super market, so they do not know what it is to not have the food that they desire.
This experiment came about as I had asked Pete (the kids dad) if he would take the kids shopping before dropping them at my place for the week and I would reimburse him for the groceries.
The kids spent the equivalent of our family shop for the week on the three of them. When they arrived home they realised that they didn’t have enough fresh produce for the week. I asked them what they were going to do about it and left it at that.
A few minutes later I hear Charlie talking to the other kids saying, ‘we have rations this week, you have a total of five baby tomatoes, three cucumbers and a third of a lettuce for the week. That is all you can have’.
The kids were then heard to complain and after I didn’t respond they divided everything by thirds between each other realising that they would not have fresh produce by the end of the week.
I had a discussion with them about shopping later in the week and came up with an experiment to educate them in learning to budget and make better choices (again thank you to my friends for their suggestions in refining the experiment).
I figured out how much it would approximately cost to get healthy food for a week for three people.
I gave the children a third of the money each of the total cost ($50.00 each). They had the choice to pool their money to buy groceries together or to spend it separately and buy their own food for the week.
I suggested that they think of meals for the week and write up a list of what they wanted to purchase.
It was totally up to them if they followed my suggestions or not and to to decide what they brought and how they were going to work out the costs of their grocery shop. They could ask me questions but I wasn’t going to make further suggestions unless they asked.
They wanted me to tell them what to do without thinking for themselves (this is something Pete and I have encouraged in them, parent reliance, which needs to change because it is a terrible dis-service not to think for oneself). The children asked, ‘what is the best way to do this mum?’ I turned the question back on them with, ‘what do you think?’ And this is what they came up with:
- They chose to pool the money
- They took a calculator around with them and added up the amounts of produce and grocery items as they went around the supermarket
- They had to choose to priorities food items of what they valued most, they made some interesting choices and I over heard them saying to each other, ‘that’s a luxury item, we will get it if we have any money left over’
- They were responsible for checking out their groceries and they got to the end and realised that they didn’t have enough money to purchase all the items in their trolly. They asked for more money, which I refused and they returned the items they couldn’t afford.
I noted that the children made different choice when it was ‘their’ money and when they had a limit on their spending. They worked together in order to purchase and compromised between each other in order to get food items that some liked and some didn’t. They had to do math in weighing and working out prices per kilogram and when the calculator went back to 0 before they had added up all the items they had to trouble shoot and re work out their spending.
The exercise was beneficial to teach through experience and for me to observe the choices and group dynamics between the children.
The children have some spending and quantity refinements to work out but I feel this will naturally happen as they do more shopping.
We will be continuing this experiment over the coming months.
Not cleaning up properly experience
The children did not have awareness about what would happen if they do not clean up properly. For instance they don’t think that if they leave food in the fridge for a week that by the time they return it will be rotten and moldy.
Because they have their kitchen outside and I no longer share a fridge with them they are finding out the consequences of their actions first hand. They have learned through the natural consequence of having a dirty fridge that it is easier and better to clean it before they leave to stay with with dad for the week.
What I love about experiment self-responsibility is that it keeps on giving opportunities and gifts for everyone involved. The parent/s have continuous opportunity to work through their emotional addictions and demands upon the children. The children are learning self-responsibility, consequences for their actions and are beginning to make choices and decisions based on their own experience.
Because consequences are natural in that they happen and the children notice because mum is not cleaning up after them they learn more and have the opportunity to make decisions that they didn’t have when I was doing things for them.
Every time I sit down and think about what is happening via this experiment I think up new ideas and new experiments about things that are exposed during the week. I feel less annoyed and frustrated because I have stopped putting up with some unloving treatment. I am taking actions that encourage all kinds of experiences for all parties, I observe what us happening and take the opportunities to reflect back to myself and the children (where applicable) how their choices and actions or lack of action is causing the issues they encounter each day.
This is the beauty of God’s Way, endless opportunities if we have the desire to embrace them and take action on them, endless opportunities for learning and for correcting all the things we have done out of harmony with love and opportunities to make better decisions to love God, others, ourselves and the environment.
That’s all for now,