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Tools for Raising Responsible Children
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.
T - Tracking Pathfinder Structures for Children
6.0 Structures for Family Time Management 

6.1. Family calendar

Pathfinders keep a family calendar on which all activities of the family are logged. It is kept in a central place in the home. All family members who can read and write are held responsible for listing their activities on the calendar. They are also responsible to make changes if they should occur and to notify their parents when such changes happen. Pathfinders keep their own individual calendars in a separate place and modify their personal calendars based on the family one. This role models the importance of keeping track of their activities and places the responsibility on them for being sure there is time in the family week to get to the scheduled activity.

Natural consequences:

  • If you do not record important events in your life by dates and time on the family calendar, then we will not know about it and therefore will not have scheduled time for it and most probably will miss it.
  • If you do not keep a family calendar up to date, then there is a good probability our family life will become disorganized and unproductive.

Logical consequences:

  • If an event important to you is not listed on the family calendar, then we will not attend it or if you need a ride to it, then we will not provide the ride.
  • If you know of a change in plans and you do not make the changes on the family calendar and at the same time inform us of the changes, then you can expect us not to support your need to be at the event.

6.2. Personal schedules

Pathfinders encourage their children to manage their own personal schedules once they reach the age to read, write and tell time. These children are given calendar and date books into which they can record important weekly and monthly information such as homework assignments, long-term projects and papers when due, tests and major studying reviews needed. They also keep track of their own extracurricular schedules of meetings, practices and games or meets. They are encouraged to keep the family calendar up by modifying it when needed based on their own personal schedule. This places the children in the position to experience the positive natural consequence of being able to get to everything they need to get to. It also places the negative consequence of being behind the eight ball if they are not able to manage their own schedules wisely. Pathfinders are free to remind children of the consequences of good time management without having to develop elaborate schemes to reinforce it.

Natural consequences:

  • If you do not manage your personal schedule responsibly, then you will find yourself unable to attend to all of the important things you have to do in your life.
  • If you do not manage your personal schedule wisely, then you will not allow for enough time for you to get all the things you need to get done in your life.

Logical consequences:

  • If you do not put all of the important school, athletic, social and family activities into your personal and family schedule, then you will miss out on them because they will not be on the family calendar either and you will not be allowed to attend to them.
  • If you do not put down in your schedule all of the important assignments you have in school, then you will not get them completed and then you will suffer the negative consequences in school for missing them. We will not write notes or make calls to your teachers to cover up your lack of responsibility in this regard.

6.3. Deciding time priorities

Pathfinders utilize family meeting to decide when there is a conflict of time needs between and among the family members. The priorities of the family time are discussed with compromise and alternative solutions sought. Children are helped to realize that their time pressures are real but that they do not take precedence over the time needs of parents who work to keep the family financially surviving. Pathfinders are able to balance the need for time at work and time with the family. They try not to occupy too much time at home with work oriented activities. They also do not sacrifice the wellbeing of the family by taking so much time off from work to do family activities that their job is put into jeopardy. Pathfinders find the right balance to assist the family to set healthy time priorities which benefit all members.

Natural consequences:

  • If you spend too much time away from work or school in order to do activities which are fun and relaxing, then you could put your employment and/or academic standing in jeopardy.
  • If you do not use your time wisely, then you will not have enough time to do the essential things necessary to maintain your personal, familial, relationship, academic and/or employment health.

Logical consequences:

  • If you do not contribute to the wellbeing of the family life, then you can expect us not to include your scheduled needs as high a priority as you would wish them to be.
  • If your schedule needs impinge on our ability to maintain our normal work schedules, then you can expect them not to become high priority for our involvement. You will need to find other ways to get to those activities.

6.4. Time reminding

Pathfinders make their children, once they can tell time on a consistent basis, responsible for the telling of time for themselves. This extends to making the children responsible for setting alarm clocks to wake themselves and getting to scheduled family events on time on their own. Pathfinders recognize that once they begin to remind children of the time, it make them dependent on this reminding in an unhealthy way.

Natural consequences:

  • If you do not wake yourself up in the morning, then you will be late for your scheduled activity.
  • If you do not remember to look at the time, then you may run late to your next scheduled activity.
  • If you do not get to scheduled events on time, then you will either be late or miss them completely.

Logical consequences:

  • If you get to a family event late, then you will not be allowed to participate in it.
  • If you do not get yourself up on your own and we are forced to get you up, then we will make you go to the scheduled event in your pajamas, unfed, not groomed, and on the way to the event make you get dressed in the car or bus.

6.5. Time equipment

Pathfinders give their children the required equipment to tell time on their own. The children are given watches when they are able to tell time on their own. They are given alarm clocks for their bedrooms to wake themselves. There are sufficient clocks in the public rooms of the house to assist them to know the time. They are given calendars for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planning. They are given assignments books to keep their school work in order. Pathfinders make sure that their homes are fully equipped to keep them on time.

Natural consequences:

  • If you lack the appropriate equipment to keep you on time, then you will run behind, forget things, be late, and be behind the eight ball when it comes to getting required assignments done in a timely fashion.
  • If you lose any of the time equipment which is given you to keep you organized, then you run the risk of becoming disorganized.

Logical consequences:

  • If you lose any of the time equipment which we have given you, then you will have to replace it with your own money or go without it.
  • If you choose not to use the time equipment we give you, then we will not buy you replacement time equipment and you will have to suffer the consequences for being late, missing assignments or not getting to the right place at the right time.

6.6. Curfews

Pathfinders utilize the family meeting to set the curfew times for the family. These curfews are set by what is acceptable evening dining times and reasonable times to be home when out on a date or out at a friend’s house or park. There is usually a difference between week nights and weekend nights. The extension or limiting of curfews is used by Pathfinders as logical consequences when necessary for other motivational reasons. The children are held responsible to follow the curfew on their own without parental reminding and hounding. The consequence of being late is then typically the logical consequence of a limited curfew the next time or not being allowed out the next time as a reminder. This area of time management can be greatly contested. Because of this, Pathfinders set curfews reasonably and with the cooperation of their children. The children having a say in the curfew set and then have only themselves to blame if they are not able to keep it in a timely fashion. Children in Pathfinders' families let their peer group know their curfew right up front when making plans so that there is no misunderstanding once they are in the middle of a planned event.

Natural consequences:

  • If you abuse the privilege of going out on your own by always extending or challenging the time limits for coming home, then you will find that we are not able to trust you to be responsible enough to go out on your own.
  • If we are always made to guess about where you are, who you are with and when you will come home it will become increasingly harder to trust you and to believe what you tell us.
  • If you are responsible in letting us know where you are going, who you are going to be with and when we can expect you to return home and indeed you come home at your own announced hour, then there would be no need to impose a fixed curfew on when we want you to get home because we could trust your judgment as to what is a reasonable time for you to get home.
Logical consequences:
  • If you fail to let us know where you are going, who you are going with and not get home at a reasonable time, then we will fix a curfew the next time you go out which could be in a week or two. You are expected to keep us informed about all of the where's, who's and when's and get home at a reasonable time.
  • If you consistently abuse the reasonable time to get home, then you will be given a curfew which will get you home earlier than all of your friends or you will not be allowed to go out at all.