Monday, December 12, 2011

Give your Kids some Chores

Here's an interesting excerpt:

Poor kids often have a fire in their belly, a desire to improve their lot and help their parents. Upper-middle class kids can be harder to motivate, especially if they've never been taught to work by their parents. 
You think I'm kidding. I remember once seeing a 21-year-old struggle with how to hold a broom and sweep the floor. It wasn't his fault. No one had ever taught him how to do that chore -- or any other. Whenever I write about young people and the jobs they won't do, I hear from dozens of employers with stories of their own. The common theme in all those e-mails is that we've been too soft on our kids and haven't demanded enough from them, something we hardly notice because we've allowed illegal immigrants to pick up the slack. 
Parents used to make their children work after school, or on weekends, or during summer break, to earn extra money to buy what they wanted. They gave them a list of chores to do to earn their allowances. No chores, no allowances. Today, parents find it easier to skip the chores and buy their kids what they want, which is no good for anyone and no good for society.
(1) I almost laughed out loud about a 21 year old not quite sure how to handle a broom. I have four kids and my toddler has almost mastered how to handle a broom--a full size adult broom 3 times taller than her. You had better believe that my two oldest (5 & 8) know how to sweep the floor.

(2) Children need to be given chores. They need to have increasing levels of responsibility given to them as they get older. This isn't mean; it's life. We don't have to work our kids to the bone or force them to go out to put food on the table--but a little work never hurt anyone. Now I'm going to sound like my parents but: work builds character.

(3) The preference in our family is you have chores without pay. Why? Because life often makes demands of us that offer little or no immediate payoffs. I don't get paid for cleaning up my plate at the dinner table-- why should I bribe my kids to do it? Yes, if you have to pay them to what should be expected of them it is a bribe.

My wife and I see this at our children's public school. Good behavior is rewarded to the point that children are not expected to do what is right because it is right but because they get a reward. It creates a "what's in it for me mentality." Can you saw: entitlement. On top of that there is often a reward for stopping some bad behavior. Try that one in the real world: "No need to resort to handcuffs, honest officer I would have stopped beating the man if you had given me some candy."

What you reinforce is what the child will come to expect.

There is a difference between chores and work. Chores are a form of work but not all work is a chore. Some work has a monetary payoff--(a paycheck); some work is necessary. You do it because it is right and necessary. 

In our home we are a family. It means we live in a mini-community. We all have a responsibility to each other. Yes, mom and dad are the caretakers--and I'm the bread winner. But I pay for the home and we expect everybody who lives in it to help take care of it. You can call that collectivism if you want--but it's just good old fashion family values. 

It also teaches respect for property--which is essential to living in society. If my kids don't keep their rooms clean they are disrespecting the good gifts God has given us. 

(4) Teach your kids the value of money. We do from time to time give our kids some money spending money. For example, my oldest wanted to buy some Christmas gifts so we were gracious. We probably won't do an "allowance" because it doesn't really teach the value of money--that money has to be earned.  By and large the principle is though if you want some money from mom and dad, you simple need to propose some work. Or when they ask for money the answer is: "Great, I have some leaves in the back yard that need raked. I will pay you ________ for ________ amount of work."And guess what: occasionally we say "no" because as they say: money doesn't grow on trees.

I now officially sound like my parents. And that's not a bad thing. 

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