As we start a new year at the Buddy Program, we begin a yearlong celebration of our 40th anniversary. We also start a year of focusing on our annual theme. For 2013, that theme is commitment.
As an established youth-serving organization in the Roaring Fork Valley, we want to focus our thoughts and actions in 2013 on commitment - commitment for the last 40 years and the next 40 and beyond.
Anyone who has experienced parenting knows of the commitment that it takes. Gone are the days of blowing off appointments, dodging duties or "slacking" off.
The minute that child comes into your life, commitment takes on a whole new meaning.
Our commitment to our children is the most important commitment we can make, and teaching them about commitment will prepare them for a lifetime of success.
Commitment is something that we, as parents, model for our children every day. Recognizing that it may be a while before they can stand on their own and recognize their own commitments, it is our duty to lead them in honoring commitments from a very young age.
Children learn at an early age that mom and dad have commitments to work, to volunteer, to family and friends and, most obviously, to parenting.
Demonstrating commitment can be as simple as doing what we say we are going to do.
It is also about teaching our children to be accountable and to accept responsibility, whether it is a commitment to feeding their pet fish every night, a commitment to doing their weekly chores, a commitment to their health by eating and sleeping well and making healthy decisions, or their commitment to completing high school and continuing on to college. It is important to hold them to their word, to a reasonable and age-appropriate degree.
Robyn Silverman, a specialist of teen/child development and author, wrote about commitment in a post on the Charlotte Parent website (www.charlotte parent.com) in 2007.
Silverman gave 10 tips to parents for making commitment a part of their daily vocabulary and teaching children about the meaning of commitment.
These tips include using age-appropriate language to discuss commitment, putting commitments in writing for older children to agree to, understanding the real reasons a child does not want to follow through on a commitment (potentially an issue with bullying, feeling unsafe, or just not enjoying the activity) and making sure to not overburden our children with too many commitments, honoring their need for "downtime."
Whether you are starting out on your parenting journey, or reading this on your phone in between driving your children to the practices and activities that you and they have made a commitment to, take a moment to frame a discussion in your mind that you will have today with your child about commitment.
It will serve both you and them well as you travel through a lifetime filled with commitment.
- Lindsay Lofaro is the program director for The Buddy Program. "Parent Talk" appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The column is the result of YouthZone, The Buddy Program, Family Visitor Programs, Kids First and Roaring Fork Family Resource Centers teaming up to provide parents with information and resources about strengthening family relationships.