Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Valori on boys and chores

Here's some helpful thoughts about boys and chores from my friend Valori, who you might remember from all those discussions about balancing homemaking and ministry. She has 5 boys, ranging from young primary to young adult, so she knows a lot about training boys!

I found her observations about teenagers and young adults fascinating. I also found it helpful to hear someone who's complementarian in her views on biblical manhood and womanhood talk about why it's important for boys to be trained domestically. I have a lot to learn from her!

My main thought is -- I am totally FOR training boys to learn how to do household chores. My older 3 boys used to clean the whole house for me (vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms), and they have always helped with dishes and have had an interest in cooking. Plus, they all three know how to do their own laundry. And they have all had to learn to take care of babies and younger siblings, which will definitely serve them in the future! ...

I think that it's important for boys to learn how to take care of themselves ... I think it will help them to appreciate their wives one day and be able to help out at times. ... To me, it's a serving and personal responsibility issue.

As far as how I organize chores is concerned, I have never really been able to stick to a consistent "chore time" -- not that I didn't try. I had charts everywhere and well thought-out plans, but the schedule was never that predictable, especially on Saturdays, and it usually just ended up that they would do basic things like cleaning out the dishwasher, sweeping, taking care of their beds and rooms, etc., and then when it was necessary (like people coming over for a meeting or me just not being able to stand it any longer), I would have them do the other kind of stuff -- just being real here :). ...

The funny thing is, with the older boys, at times you would think I had never taught them anything! It has been interesting to watch how puberty and the teenage years have affected them in these areas. It was as if they forgot how to make their beds, load their dishes into the dishwasher, put away their shoes, socks, books, etc.! They actually don't "see" the messes! (I've heard from some of my friends that this has happened with their girls, too, but I think it's a little less severe.)

Also, during the high school years, there was a natural need to pull back from requiring them to do a lot around the house. The main goal we had during that time was for them to manage their own room and bathroom and to pick up after themselves (they also did yard work). Their school load became very heavy, they had more serving opportunities at church, and they often had outside jobs. For all of them, sports and drama were also big time commitments that we felt were valuable opportunities during those years. So it was kind of a natural transition for them, and they definitely weren't naturally inclined toward the home!

But I guess that some of it has paid off. Now my two oldest live in a house near campus with two friends, and they actually do their own laundry (Kenneth said they weren't allowed to bring it home for me to do it :) ), they cook some, and they have a cleaning rotation. It's not a spotless place, but they do a pretty good job for college guys. Then, for some reason, when they come home for the weekend, they feel they can relax and drop their backpacks, etc. wherever they want :). We try to remind them to put their things away, but I've decided I'd rather have them feel welcome and want to come home than hear me nagging them about picking up their things the whole weekend! So the house is a little messier, and I enjoy my boys and their friends.

... I think training them to do some of these things is not contrary to helping them become men who will lead their families. I think it is helpful to them. What better way to lead than from the attitude and heart of a servant? And I think that because they have seen me and Kenneth function together, where I take the primary responsibility for the home, but he is willing to jump in and serve, they have had a good example to follow in their dad. ... I am concerned that they not think they were born to be pampered and waited upon, but that when their future wives serve them in the home, they will be grateful.

As far as age appropriate chores go, I think that's kind of hit or miss, and each child is different, but overall, I think I've usually been surprised that they can do a lot more than I would have expected!
image is by from a second story from flickr

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