LOVE AND LOGIC TIP 8 What They See Is What They Learn I (Jim) spent my childhood on the wrong side of the tracks in a trailer in industrial Denver. When my family scraped enough money together, we bought a little garage to live in while my dad built a house on the property. Dad worked a morning shift downtown and rode the streetcar to work, and then when he returned at 2:00 p.m. every day, he picked up his hammer and saw and built a house. It took seven years. As I watched him work, I thought, Wow! He gets to do all the fun stuff: mix the concrete, lay the bricks, put on the shingles, hammer nails, saw wood. I watched it all day, every day. At the end of the day, when my dad knocked off, he invariably said, “Jim, clean up this mess.” So I would roll out the wheelbarrow, pick up a shovel and a rake, and clean up the mess. At the same time, Dad would explain to me that people have to learn to clean up after themselves. They need to finish and put the tools away. When my dad noticed that I left my own stuff lying around, he complained, “Why don’t you ever pick up your stuff, Jim? There’s your bike on the sidewalk, and your tools are all over the place. When you go to look for a tool, you won’t know where it is.” I, of course, was learning all about cleaning up. I was learning that adults don’t clean up after themselves. Had my father modeled cleaning up after himself — saying in the process, “I feel good now that the day’s work is finished, but I’ll feel better when I clean up this mess and put all the tools in the right places” — he would have developed a son who liked to clean up his own messes. As it is, my garage is a mess to this very day.
Foster W. Cline (Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility)