If we want our children to be cooperative then we have to teach it to them. Cooperation, like any other character trait, is best caught than taught. In other words, our children will “catch” us acting one way and it will be a bigger influence upon them than if we attempted to lecture to them the right way to act.
Our words mean less than our actions. This past weekend, my husband and I had to work really hard to be a positive influence to our teens when it came to cooperation. He undertook a project that, as I posted on my Facebook status, is a true test of marriage. He remodeled our bathroom…and we only have one. Well, I should say that we are still remodeling our bathroom. It has turned into a longer project than we anticipated.
Not only did we have that remodeling project going on but we had my 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom to finish up (carpeting and paint)…her stuff was all over the living and dining room. Then we had our bathroom sink out in the dining room. On top of it, we had to squeeze these projects in between a concert, a funeral and a dinner with my dad and stepmom.
Oh…and I didn’t even mention the dust and the mess throughout our house from the tiling he broke up.
It was stressful. That is about the nicest way I can put it. My husband and I were having a difficult time not taking it out on one another…or our teens for that matter. Because of course, they had things going on or “wants” and it had to be now or they were just going to die…you get the picture.
We couldn’t do anything about the fact that we were in the situation we were in. This was how our weekend was to be and so it became more about learning how to cooperate in the midst of it.
I would love to say that our teens learned some really valuable lessons by our positive examples. We didn’t do it perfectly but in the end, we made it work and we all came out of it unscathed.
Cooperation, to me, is learning how to make things work even when you don’t feel like it, or when the situation makes it difficult to do so. You plunge through the junk and you just make it happen. We did that. Our children saw us balance more than a few things and while we had our less than admirable moments, I think they came out of it realizing you can make it work.
Hopefully this will help them to be more cooperative when interacting with each other, dealing with friendship issues and other situations in life. If not, all I have to do is remind them of this past weekend and I think they will realize that they can handle anything.