Usually, when I write about something I take into account the fact that there are so many different life situations and different people. I usually consider that everyone has his or her own special needs so I try to not be too dogmatic about what a person should do in a situation.
But when it comes to injustices towards children, I do tend to be more – hmm, what’s the word? — As much as I hate to use the phrase, I’ll say "more narrow minded." In the same way I would react if I saw a child being physically abused, I’m afraid I do get upset when I see parents who are emotionally hurting their children, too.
One of those areas where I am seeing this problem more and more is when parents don’t expect their children to do chores or to help at home. The sad thing is that parents think they are doing something nice for their kids by not asking them to do chores and "forcing" them to work.
The reality is that many parents, even though they do love their children, don’t love their children more than they love themselves. Before you start screaming, clicking the delete button or having a heart attack let me explain what I mean and see if you might end up agreeing with me just a little, even if what I said sounds harsh.
Here are some reasons why parents don’t make their kids do chores.
- I get tired of fighting with them and telling them to do their chores.
- I’m afraid the kids will be mad at me and not like me.
- I’m too busy to keep track of things and remind my children to do their chores.
- It is easier for me to do the work myself.
- I don’t know how to teach them.
- I feel guilty because of my divorce, moving, job loss…..
Do you see how all of the excuses are things that will cause some kind of physical or emotional discomfort for the parents? It isn’t easy being a parent and I, like many other parents before me and after me will at one point in their lives do one or all of the above things. What’s important is to be aware of when you’re doing it and to try your best not to let it happen too often.
Having to do chores, or work at home, is one of the main builders of life skills for kids. Everything including learning how to wash dishes, cook and clean are things we, as parents, are responsible to teach our children.
At risk of sounding harsh, if we haven’t taught our children these lessons we have failed in one very important area of our parenting. Teaching kids responsibility and how to perform daily tasks is an area where many of us have become very relaxed and it’s something we have treated with little importance in the past couple of decades.
If you think I’m being overly dramatic, think about this:
- Not knowing how to clean a home or wash dishes can lead to poor health for your kids and their families.
- Not knowing how to cook can be financially devastating. When times are hard and your grown kids can’t go out to eat, they wouldn’t begin to know how to save. How many of you have had times in your lives when you couldn’t afford to go out to eat and needed to cook at home but found that you didn’t even know how to go to the grocery store and shop, let alone cook? How many of you, when you first tried this, had shell shock when you went to pay for the groceries. I know one young woman still living at home who said, "My mom pays very little for groceries – only about $300." The mom looked at her and said, "Uh… more like $750." The bottom line is that many older kids don’t have a clue about how to cook and shop for groceries or about many other things they should be learning…
It would take too much room for me to list all of the physical reasons kids need to learn practical life skills but I think you get the idea.
More than anything, though, I get concerned with how lack of responsibility and knowledge of basic life skills impacts kids emotionally. My heart breaks to see young moms or dads struggling to learn how to do things for their families that should have been second nature to them by the time they reached their early 20’s.
How lack of practical training affects children:
- Lowers their self confidence and self esteem.
- Can be very embarrassing, humiliating and painful, especially in the case of a young man his ego.
- Adds more stress to an already stress filled life. At a time when young people are having to learn to live on their own, they are often trying to deal with all the difficulties of being newly married or new parents. If they are also having to learn life skills they should have been taught when they were 10, it can be much more difficult for them.
No wonder so many 20-something young people are struggling, have low self esteem and don’t want to leave home. How can they leave when they don’t know how to take care of themselves?
These are some of the repercussions of not having kids do chores. And so many of us thought it was no big deal. Now do you see my frustration in this trend?
I know it is hard. We are tired and overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, but we must teach our children. Being responsible for your children and their needs goes way beyond making sure there is enough money for food, shelter and clothing. You need to be responsible for their many other needs, too, no matter how much work and sacrifice it is for you as a parent.
In closing, there is nothing more frustrating than to hear someone tell you what you should do but end before telling you how to do it, so here are a few more articles from LivingOnADime.com that include practical ways to help you learn to teach kids’ chores and follow through on overseeing that the chores get done.
Organizing Kids Rooms – Detailed information about how to teach kids chores and how to manage and motivate them.
Sample kids’ chore charts to make assigning responsibilities easier.
One other thing that is important is teaching kids about money.
P.S. Even my baby Jack (Tawra’s youngest in the picture above) is trying to help mom sweep. Not because he has to, but because it makes him feel good.