Since the release of our new website and blog, many of you have requested that we post this article written by Lex de Azevedo, President of Signing Time, and father of Rachel Coleman and Emilie Brown. We included the original article in one of our newsletters that we put out earlier this year, but like it so much that we want to share it again. If you would like to begin receiving newsletters, visit our Monthly Newsletter Home Page.

This article is an excerpt from Out of the Chaos: Notes on Raising Nine Independent Children


June 2008

by Lex de Azevedo, President of Two Little Hands Productions, and father of Emilie & Rachel

Another survival technique we learned was, “Never do for the child what the child can do for herself.” It works. It really works. As soon as the child is old enough to pick up after herself and make her own bed, the child makes her own bed. It’s as simple as that. As soon as she is old enough to do the dishes, or cook the meals, guess what? You got it. The problem, however, was getting them to actually do their chores. Now, kids are getting smarter all the time, but I can match wits with any 7 year old any day of the week. I just used my magic word, “nevertheless.”

Rebecca: “I don’t want to do my chores.”
Dad: “Nevertheless, you must do your chores”
Rebecca: “I can’t clean up my room; I have homework.”
Dad: “Nevertheless, your room needs to be cleaned.”

Finally, they would just give up trying to argue. The one argument that always got to me was: “I don’t have to wash the dishes, ‘cause I didn’t ask to be born into this family.” For a parent, that is hitting below the belt. But I never let on. I just used my magic word “nevertheless.”

Truthfully, often things were not picked up, beds were not made and dishes remained in the sink until there were no more clean dishes. At times the level of chaos was almost intolerable, at least for me. One Sunday morning comes to mind. We had hurriedly herded all the kids into the black and silver Dodge maxi-van in the vain attempt to arrive on time to our 9:00 AM church meeting. A little while later the church received a call from a neighbor of ours asking to relay the message that burglars had broken into our home and ransacked the place. In the process they had set off the alarm and the security police had responded. Horrified, Linda and I got up and left the meeting, leaving the kids at church (risky, very risky indeed). We drove home to survey the damage. Geri, our good friend and neighbor, was waiting for us at the front door and warned us as we entered that what we were about to see was not a pretty sight. Ah, what blessed relief we felt, mixed with a great deal of embarrassment, upon discovering that there was nothing wrong. The house wasn’t ransacked at all. It was just the way we left it that morning. No burglars, either; it turned out that McBarker the cockapoo terrier had set off the alarm.

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