Kids and Chores

Household jobs will help your kids master the mechanics of running a home, and the skills needed for responsible living. Here's how to get them started and encourage their cooperation.
Four Big Pluses

Chores are for everyone.

Some parents are reluctant to encourage their children to take on chores. "The job gets done faster and better if I do it myself," you'll often hear parents say. Sadly, the children of these parents are being shortchanged. A child learns much more from chores than simply how to change the dust bag in a vacuum cleaner.

Household chores help children in four areas:

Independence: By the time they reach their late teens, children should be equipped with the skills they will need for self-sufficiency. In this regard, domestic skills are no less important than any other. By the age of 18, your children -- male and female -- should be familiar with and practiced at every single aspect of running a home. They should be able to wash and iron their own clothes, prepare basic meals, run a vacuum cleaner, disinfect bathrooms, replace furnace filters, mow grass, weed planting areas, reset a tripped circuit breaker, and so on.

Self-esteem: Chores create feelings of accomplishment. When your children know that their contributions of time and energy are regarded as important to the smooth running of the household, their feelings of worth and self-esteem grow immensely.

Good citizenship: President John Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." A responsible citizen looks more for opportunities to contribute to the system than for opportunities to take from it. This philosophy applies to families as well as to the nation. Chores teach children that the reward of membership in a family comes more from what's put into the family than from what's taken out of it.

Values: Chores bond your children to your family's values. Throughout our nation's history, the children who were most likely to carry their parents' values into adulthood were those raised on farms. Among farm families, chores are as much a part of daily life as three meals a day.

For a farm child, the family and its values take on importance not simply because of parental modeling and enforcement, but because the child performs a valuable function within the family. The child's labors contribute directly to the family's well-being. Because the child invests in the family, the family becomes more important. When farm-raised children grow into adults, they cash in on that investment and use it to create success, stability, and happiness in their own lives.

Continued on page 2:  Common Questions