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Challenge: Raising Kind Kids

Alternative Spring Break

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“Guess where I’m going for Spring Break?”

I was a newly minted mom of a college freshman, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Daytona Beach?



Carson Daly?

No, wait, that was MTV’s Spring Break.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that my daughter, Emilie, had far different plans than I ever had. She was setting out for a remote location, just not one that would be in any travel magazine.

”Alternative Spring Break” challenges college students to forego an MTV style spring break, and spend a week in the poverty stricken Appalachian region of Kentucky. Along with volunteers from other colleges and universities nationwide, they assisted families, who due to circumstances beyond their control found themselves in desperate need.


If only this was the norm, and not the alternative.

This child who used to try anything to get out of doing her chores, performed tasks I would have never expected. She installed decks, insulation, vinyl siding, and even a roof.


Did nagging her to set the table and vacuum the living room prepare her for this?

Children who learn responsibility grow up to become successful, service oriented adults.

When Emilie was born almost 20 years ago, it was my hope that I would raise her and her siblings to become kind and charitable towards others. These lessons need to begin at home, so I give my kids tasks that they must complete each day. An essential part of parenting is helping our children to learn the importance of taking personal responsibility.

Are chores the answer to leading a good life?

My kids don’t want to believe there is a greater goal beyond making sure their beds are made the the laundry makes it into the hamper. Chores make my life a little easier and their lives a little richer.

“I’ll just put my feet up while you sweep, sweetie.”

Seriously, though, as soon as they can walk, my children are expected to put away their toys. As they get older, they start to help with dusting and sweeping. I cannot even tell you how excited my kids get when they wash the walls or the windows. When I give them a spray bottle filled with water and a rag their little eyes light up and I know it buys me 20 minutes to get something else done. Even my preschooler gains such a sense of accomplishment to see that even though he is little, he can make a difference around the house. As they grow, older, I add more challenging tasks along with the added responsibility of homework and studying. My children know what is expected from them before they can enjoy certain privileges and extracurricular activities -- chores need to be completed and I expect good reports to come home from school. Hopefully, this guidance (and nagging) is working towards creating a positive attitude that will carry over into their teenage and adult years.

Service oriented projects start in the home. The simple task of making sure the communal living spaces are clean and organized benefits all those who live there. Anyone who has stepped on a LEGO can attest to that.


Helping others in our community is the natural progression of things. Evan, knows that once a week, he needs to put the trash cans out and bring them back in. I am proud that it has become second nature for him to take in our neighbor’s trash cans as well. When he mows our lawn, he will mow theirs as well, with no expectation of compensation.

Giving just comes easy around here. Little hands will empty the pantry and pack up all of my canned goods when the food drive is announced. Alone or together as a family, community outreach has always been a part of our lives.


As Emilie prepares to spend her winter recess on a service learning trip to Thailand, I have no doubt her siblings will someday follow in her charitable footsteps.

Maybe all of my nagging has paid off.

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