Initiative is a Myth
Initiative is a myth, and I can prove it. Think back to your childhood. Did you do basic household chores without being asked? I’m sure you did because everyone knows today’s moms are perfect in every way, right?
Now think about your husband. Do you think he demonstrated initiative with his mom? Of course not! So there’s the problem: your kids are genetically predisposed to require constant instruction due to their dad’s non-initiative gene, making the whole struggle your mother-in-law’s fault! The issue is science. It’s simple genetics.
Ok, maybe the lack of initiative in your house is not your mother-in-law’s fault entirely, but the struggle to get your kids (and maybe even your spouse) to put away their shoes is real. Below are some tips for parenting the initiative-impaired:
- Ask for help: I know you hate asking for help, but unless your kids are certified mind readers, you’re going to have to communicate your expectations clearly. Why? Because initiative is a myth!
- Give clear and direct instructions: Hints, indirect requests, and passive-aggressive comments are ineffective. Below are examples of clear instruction versus ineffective responses:
- Clear and direct instruction: “I need you to pick up your shoes, please.”
- Indirect instruction: “It would be awesome if someone around here would pick up their shoes.”
- Hint: “Does anyone notice what’s wrong with the living room floor?”
- Passive-aggressive instruction: “I guess I’m the only one who does anything around here.”
***Notice how clear instruction points to your need directly, while indirect instruction, hinting, and passive-aggressive instruction makes it difficult for kids to identify your desire for shoes to be put away.
- Don’t be an initiative crusher: Constant criticism crushes initiative. If you find yourself saying, “It’s easier for me just to do it myself,” or “The only right way is my way,” then you may have some initiative-crushing tendencies. Kids (and spouses) will stop taking the risk to help you if they feel they can’t please you. Kids need space to find their unique way of doing things --- so slow down and take the extra time needed to teach your kids how to complete the task to a good enough and age-appropriate standard.
- Reserve your “mom voice” for kids only. While the “mom voice” (and “teacher voice”) helps kids know who’s in charge, adults find these tones insulting and annoying. If your husband lacks initiative, avoid the “mom voice” when asking him to help you with chores. It’s confusing to your kids, and it really ticks him off.
- Reward initiative. When anyone in your household takes the initiative to do anything, praise them! Use this time to express how much the action means to you. Avoid initiative-crushing responses like:
- Sarcasm: “Well, it’s about time someone did something around here without me asking.”
- Ingratitude: “Why should I reward you for doing what you’re supposed to do? No one rewards me.”
- Criticism: “What’s the point in putting your shoes away without being asked if you forgot to put your socks in the hamper?”
Forget about the socks! Just do the happy dance that they overcame their non-initiative genetic makeup and took INITIATIVE. Praise Jesus! Your kid is a survivor! Teach about socks on another day.
Your day-to-day momma responsibilities are daunting on your best day. Learning to ask for help is a game-changer for any mom. Clear and direct communication gives you the help you need, and it gives your tribe the help they need to identify your needs and expectations. Perfection is never the goal --- all you need is for your people to pick up their freaking shoes!