Monday, March 31, 2014


What are MFO's? Mandatory Family Obligations.
A friend of mine coined the term years ago and I instantly adopted it! "Imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery!"
MFO's are those non negotiable things that a kid has to do when being a member of your family. Everyone's MFO's vary from family to family, here are some of ours:
Learning to swim
Learning to ski in ski school (ski school, that's the key) through middle school!
Learning to sail / boat handling
Eating dinner with the family (you parents of teens know what I'm talking about)
Going on family vacations (another familiar tune amongst teens' parents)
Taking and passing the American Red Cross Babysitting course... (whether or not your kid ever babysits for others, it's a great thing for each child to know when they are left home alone or watching little brothers or sisters.)
As your kids are growing up, just think about some of the struggles you have, getting your child to do something. The power of an MFO is that there's no argument. Once you state this is an MFO, that's it. The importance is how you implement it and then your follow through. No wavering, parents, stick to your guns! We used MFO's sparingly, more bang for the buck.
We live on the coast, water is everywhere and when our kids were growing up we lived in California and pools were everywhere... learning to swim was non negotiable. Did we have tears, absolutely. But once over the hump, swimmers!
We ski and we wanted our kids to learn to ski so we could vacation as a family and participate in something together. There aren't many sports where you can do that. And going to ski school is the only way. They're with their peers, they learn the correct way, not Mom's Stein Erickson's method, and they actually have fun, meaning they want to get back out there the next day or the next time. Now our kids can tackle anything, with anybody, and they have a ball.
Boating skills? Since we do live on the coast, there are many times when there's an invitation to go sailing or boating and to have knowledge and (some) skill means another invitation because you're helpful, not to mention it's much more fun.
The eating together as a family is a tried and true MFO, always! There were definitely times when it became a real challenge with sports and extracurriculars, but MFO dinners were ever present at least twice a week.
MFO vacations, I've never understood those family friends that gave their kids the option of whether or not they wanted to join the family on a trip to wherever. It was always an MFO in our household.
And as for the American Red Cross' Babysitting course,I highly recommend it for any 11-15 year old. It gives your kid a real self confidence in knowing how to handle an emergency and feeling more comfortable if left on their own or in charge of younger kids. Not to mention Mom's piece of mind.
Now that the kids are older and living on their own in college or really on their own, it's harder to use the MFO moniker, but I'll confess, though I probably didn't have to, I did resurrect it for a wedding not long ago.
MFO gets their attention and they realize and understand the importance of something. It's been a very useful tool over the years.
What are some of your family's MFO's?

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