Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Great Chore Debate
Someone posted the chart above over on Facebook. I found the comments interesting and illuminating. First let me get the 'Carry firewood' (under 2-3) out of the way. Is the intention for the child to lug an armload of wood into the house? No, of course not. But any kid can help by carrying a smaller piece of wood. People! Use your heads!

Now. I don't propose to debate the list. Mostly, folks get all snarky if their kids can't/won't do the things on the list because they feel they've failed. Phft! If you as the female parent--and let's just confess, it's ALWAYS the female parent--decide it's more convenient or practical or any other excuse you want to claim for you as the parent to do all the work, then go for it. That has nothing to do with your child's capabilities.

In another era, in a different part of the world, children do all the things on the lists and more. From the time they can walk they have responsibilities--responsibilities appropriate for their age and culture. If we, in our culture, choose to believe our children are less capable, then that's our shame.

My mother was the ideal mother. She did everything. Hah. If the Stepford Wives had been around in her era, she would have fit right in. Then she died in a car accident. I was ten.

I have a vivid memory of my father handing me a can opener, a can of tuna and a loaf of bread and instructing me to fix my younger brothers some sandwiches. Gentle readers...I had no clue how to open that can or what to do with the tuna if I ever solved that conundrum.

As I struggled with my appointed task, I determined my children would never be in such a situation. Over the next few months I was faced with numerous situations I could have been prepared for, but wasn't, because my mother had resolved to be a GOOD mother and therefore did everything herself.

The skills on the chore list above are not just time fillers to occupy our children. They are skills designed to prepare our children for adulthood. We can't wait until they're sixteen, then suddenly demand they learn how to be an adult. Work skills are acquired all through life.

And there's something else I think a lot of parents fail to consider. When your child has acquired the skills appropriate for his age, he had confidence--confidence in his capabilities and he knows he's contributing to his family's welfare. Oh, he may never admit such a thing, but underneath...yeah, he knows.


  1. We always had chores and were expected to help around the house. It teaches kids responsibility.

  2. My brothers and I had assigned chores year round but during the summer school break my Mom took things to a different level. We each had a chart on the refrigerator with our assigned tasks. Nothing was too difficult or took too long but of course we complained at times. I vividly remember how many of the tasks were fun and a source of pride when completed. When I was very young and finally mastered making my bed by myself I was thrilled. The first time I was given the coveted chore of feeding the dogs and making sure their water dish was never empty I knew I was "a big girl"!! One summer, my older brother and I took turns helping to make the grocery list. Then he, Mom and I would go to the store every two weeks and try and keep the shopping within budget - it was a friendly competition between siblings along with one hell of a learning experience!

  3. I think everyone can pitch in-- to the best of his or her ability.