Wednesday, March 18, 2009

a question for you about chores

The other day I praised my kids for cheerfully helping out around the house. (Well, they were cheerful that day, anyway. There's plenty of complaining on other days.)

My son said to me, "You know why we're becoming more cheerful helpers, Mummy? It's because we have more to do now."

In other words, you've given us more chores, so we're more used to them, so we're more cheerful about doing them. Hmmm. I'm not sure his sister would agree.

Steve and I have been thinking a lot about which chores to give our kids to do around the house. Vacuuming their rooms? Unpacking the dishwasher? Weeding? Putting out the rubbish? Cooking? Hanging out clothes? Our kids do bits and pieces of all of these.

Here are some of the questions going through my mind:

Should girls be given different chores to boys?
Should kids get rewards, like pocket money, for doing chores?
Should kids be given a say in which chores they do?
Should kids be given unpleasant chores as well as fun ones?
How do chores help build a child's character?
How do chores prepare kids for independent adulthood?
How do chores train kids for adult roles as men and women?

I'm really interested to hear your reflections on kids and chores. Here's some questions to get you thinking about your own experience:

What did your parents do well when they handed out chores?
If you're a woman, did your mum train you to manage a home? How did she do this?
If you're a man, did your dad train you to care for a home and family? How did he do this?
Do you wish your parents had trained you in ways that they didn't?

If you're a mum or dad, what kinds of chores do you give your kids?
Do you give boys different chores to girls, and why?
How are you training your daughter(s) to manage a home, and your son(s) to care for a home and family?
What are you trying to achieve when you give out chores?

Pick one question, or three or four - I don't mind! - but I'd love to hear what you think about kids and chores.

You can comment here.

image is from stock.xchng


Cathy McKay said...

Hi Jean,
With our four year old boy, Winton, my husband spent a bit of time memorising various Proverbs with him about diligence vs. laziness. This has given us a "language" in our household for getting work done. Winton is really excited to have any opportunity to "do diligent hands". Even his pretend play has become about doing hard work.

Steve has also been really conscious of training him in masculinity. A big part of which is that hard work is a good thing that he was created for as one of God's image bearers.

Everyday there is positive talk about taking responsibility, working hard, protecting girls and people who are not as strong as he is, serving others etc. He is enjoying learning to be a man.

We have been trying to focus on a demeanour that welcomes hard work in lots of environments (including pack up at church - which is a favourite!), rather than a list of jobs.

We are going to start an allowance (after listening to a John Piper talk on money), not as a reward for doing jobs, but as training in stewardship.

As our family grows, I am sure it will become more structured.

I am looking forward to hearing what people day about trainging girls!!

Jean said...

Thanks, Cathy, for some interesting reflections.

We, too, deliberately give our sons (and daughter!) "hard work" to do - including yucky messy jobs - to train them towards adulthood.

I like what you've done with Proverbs, that's a helpful approach. Also taking the "hard work" attitude outside the home. And I like how you think about pocket money as "stewardship" training.

You've given me food for thought as always. Like you, I'm looking forward to hearing what people have to say about training girls.

Rachel J said...

Best suggestion I have heard (though am yet to try it with my children as too young) for nexus between chores and pocket money is this.

Children have set chores to do each day/week. Independent of this, they also receive a set amount of "pocket money". If, however, their chores don't get done, then whoever ends up doing them (sibling or parent) must be paid something (from pocket money) to do it. I like this. A nice mix of training in hard work and also stewardship.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
We have four kids, 13,11,9 and 7, two boys and then two girls.
I have not been as diligent as I would have liked (or maybe I should say structured) in terms of chore training. I was more conscious of it when we were home schooling because they were around all day, and it was even more necessary.

Our kids get a small amount of pocket money (really for stewardship purposes) and sometimes they have the option of doing an extra hard or dirty job for extra money (not as often now we live in an apartment and there isn't as much garden work).

But if I ask them to do a chore, the expected result is cheerful compliance.....and it's coming along! :-)
I do like your idea of specifically using the diligence words of proverbs, Cathy. We talk about work being a blessing, and part of God's good creation. Read a post the other day (I think it was Tim Chester) and he said the joy in creating order out of chaos reflects God's creative work and is a way to think appropriately about the cyclical chores of life. I found that helpful!!

Differences between girls and boys. I thought initially that we had lots of differences, but now that I really analyse it, there's not a lot. The boys tend to take out the rubbish rather than the girls, because it tends to be a smelly, and sometimes heavy job, but the girls do it sometimes. I am teaching both the boys and the girls to cook (although the girls help more often), they all clean their own rooms, make their own beds, vacuum, clean their bathroom, put their clothes away. (This is of course, in the ideal world - it doesn't always pan out quite so nicely!!) We used to have a rotating roster for table setting, dishes etc, but it fell by the wayside. I tend to call whoever is closest at the time! I usually hang the washing up, but any one of the four is able to and expected to if necessary. The main difference is that we encourage the boys to ask the girls where they would like to sit in the car, and if Michael isn't around, one of the boys will often open the car door for me. We talk about men looking for ways to serve women at their own expense, and about women graciously accepting help. The boys hang out with Michael if he is fixing something around the house.

I'm inspired to be a bit more deliberate again, having read your posts. Might just go and draw something up now!!


Jean said...

That's an interesting suggestion, Rachel! It could work well.

Jo, thanks for a thoughtful response. I particularly like what you said about boys serving girls, and girls graciously accepting help. I talked with Steve about that idea today!