Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cathy on boys and chores

You might remember my question about chores a couple of weeks ago. Today I'd like to share one of the responses I received from Cathy, of The Best Book Co-op, about how she and her husband train their son. Here's what she says:

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 say about training girls!!
I was particularly challenged by Cathy's encouragement to teach kids the why as well as the what of chores, and by her suggestions about training boys to care for women.

And I agree - I'd love to hear your ideas about training girls - or boys!

image is from stock.xchng


Cathy McKay said...

Hi Jean!

I have been stringing together a couple of disconnected thoughts about girls.

Our daughter Audrey is 2. The level at which her "training" is different so far from her brother's is not the tasks in themselves, but the language we use to talk about them.

When she takes initiative to help my standard phrase is simply "good helping Audrey!" (with gusto and jubilation). I am keen for her to develop her view of herself as a helper, Genesis 1-2 style.

When Winton does the same thing (same initiative, similar tasks), I will praise his leadership in taking initiative to serve others (and talk about that as a very manly thing, like Jesus and Daddy...)

We want Audrey to learn to do a lot of the same tasks Winton does, not so she can compete, but help.

In "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood", John Piper's opening chapter* illustrates how his mother necessarily did many of the jobs that his father would because his father was away a lot. The difference was the way she "loved" her husband's leadership and work when he was home.

It wasn't a difference between skills and strength, but disposition.

I guess the training has a lot to do with seeing the connection between chores and relationships.

I guess other things we would want to teach are the value and dignity of doing chores and how they are connected to serving Jesus.

Still thinking...


Jean said...

Thanks, Cathy, you really should be writing these posts for me! Those are very helpful and wise reflections.

I like the way you major less on the different tasks and more on the attitude and disposition - helping vs serving and leadership.

You are giving me a language to talk about these things with my children!

Do you think there will be any differentiation in tasks as they grow? I assume you'll probably train them both to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and clean.

Will you put more emphasis on learning to manage a home for Audrey - or will you train them both in this?

Thanks again for being so generous with your thoughts. Once again, I might share them with everyone, if you don't mind! :)

Cathy McKay said...

Two weeks later, I finally reply - sorry Jean!

Yes, I think they will both learn to do the same things, but will perhaps get more experience in some tasks than others (ie. the degree of competence might vary, although I expect there will be some skill in most tasks).

As they grow, I imagine there will be some differentiation in responsibilities, but still a wide range of skills developed.

My comments are yours to do with what you want Jean!!