Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are Chores a Thing of the Past???

Joy helping me clean the tops of the cupboards
I hung out with a few of my girl friends last night as we helped a friend pack up her house in preparation for moving.  We started talking about how we needed to expect more from our kids after one friend shared that her children stopped telling potty jokes while Grandpa and Grandma were visiting.  Obviously they were capable of curbing their humor for Grandma, therefore they should be able to all the time.

Another friend said that as a culture, we have low expectations for our children.  We discussed examples from classic literature--In Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Farmer Boy, the children went to school and then came home and did farm chores.  I mentioned reading a book to my children where a ten year old pioneer girl had to stay alone over night at her cabin in the middle of the wilderness and take care of her eighteen month old brothers while their dad took their mom to the doctor eight miles away (by horse).  In today's society, she isn't even old enough to stay home alone, let alone babysit.  And she had to cook their meals over an open fire, cooking from scratch (does anyone even do that anymore these days???), and her dad left her the pistol which she ended up using to scare away a bear.  Imagine what would happen to that family if this were to occur today--the kids would be in foster care and the parents would be in jail for neglect.

This morning this article was posted on Facebook.  Rural kids, parents angry about Labor Dept. rule banning farm chores.  "The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families' land.  Under the rules, children under 18 would no longer work 'in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.'"  If passed, this rule would make the chores done in Farmer Boy also illegal.  

How is a parent supposed to teach their children a good work ethic in a society that tells us that all kids should be allowed to do is go to school, buy stuff, plug into all types of media, and act rebellious and misunderstood?  Where chores are now regulated by the child-labor laws?  

Well, I am here to say that my children do chores and they will be doing chores until the day they move out of my house.  Whenever I am tempted to think that they are too young for something, I let my children decide.  I hand them a tool and if they can't handle it, they're too young.  Last summer Hubby attempted to show David how to mow the lawn.  He wasn't strong enough to turn the mower, so he wasn't ready.  This year David mows the backyard on his own.  I thought putting new sheets on the bed would be too difficult for Lizzy, but last week I asked her to try it herself and she did fine with a little help from me (she sleeps on the top bunk so it's more challenging than a regular bed).  

David pruning a pine tree
If you want to raise dependent children who aren't capable of taking care of themselves, go ahead and do everything for them.  Listen to the people who tell you that you should let kids be kids and not expect anything from them.  If you want to raise children who grow into independent young adults who can manage a home, hold a job, and make wise decisions with their finances, have high expectations for them now.    

I have a list of chores/skills that I want each of my children to master before leaving my home:
-Cook and bake from scratch and use the grill
-Laundry (including sorting, water temperatures, folding, putting away, and ironing)
-Grocery shopping (including menu planning, shopping list making, couponing, and stockpiling sales items)
-Basic mending/sewing (if not more)
-Basic home repairs (plumbing, electric work, how to use tools appropriately, etc)
-Basic auto maintenance 
-Financial planning (including budgeting, how to balance a checkbook/rectify a bank statement, how to avoid debt)
-Lawn care
-Garden care
-Home care (how to clean an entire house, not just one area)
-Childcare skills (how to change a diaper, feed a baby, babysit, etc)

There are many more chores/skills I plan to teach my children, but this is a starting point.  There will be no nose wiping of teenagers in my house.


  1. There will be no nose wiping of teenagers in my house.

    I love it!

  2. Even though it takes more time initially to train children in what to do for various chores, it's well worth it in the long run. I have (older) children who are able to and do cook dinners most nights at our house, but it came about from working with them. And also, the older ones can share in training their younger siblings!