One of the worst things we can do to our kids is to raise them without ever asking anything of them. My kids love to remind me that none of their friends have to clean the kitchen, or do their laundry. What they don’t realize is that most of their friends’ don’t really know what their value is to the family, because their parents don’t ask anything of them.

Kids who are never needed at home never develop a sense of place and belonging in the world. They grow up thinking one of two things: Everything should be easy and done for me (entitlement); or I am not needed in the world and therefore I don’t know what makes me unique.

Most parents who don’t ask anything of their children are doing so because they don’t want to deal with the mess that comes with asking a kid to do something.

Kids whine and complain. They are like pigs. Put a pig in a stall, and it’ll find a way to get out. They constantly testing the limits of the boundaries: What is a legit boundary, what is a threat, what is a lie. When they find a weak spot, they’ll hit it over and over and over again until they get what they want. Kids want freedom (don’t we all!), but they don’t know what to do with freedom unless they’ve been taught.

Setting your kids up for success depends on how much responsibility you teach them. Parents teach responsibility by giving them responsibilities. By telling them that they are a valuable member of the family. By telling them that their actions impact more than just themselves.

The best thing we can do for our kids is give them a constructive space to fail.

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