Earlier this week a well known writer posted an article about how her son doesn’t do chores because his only job is to be a child. To a degree, I get that. My five year old doesn’t have any chores either. But Lana’s son isn’t five – he is fifteen. In three years he will be able to drink, vote and be a legal adult. I have no concerns that this boy will grow to be a responsible and contributing member of society. From reading her life for some time now I can see that he appears from the outside to a a pretty decent kid. And so obviously whatever she is doing works for her.
My general opinion though is very different. Worlds apart – if you will. Because the world is hard and nothing is free and everything comes with a price. My children have been raised to help out a decent amount. In fairness – I have six children and for a good chunk of my parenting journey a work away husband – Lana has one child and what seems to be a hands on husband. I COULD do everything myself but I figure if they’re going to be part of a family then they need to understand that means we help each other out. Oh, and I don’t pay them for chores either. Sorry. No one will pay you to do the dishes when you leave home. At what point did ‘childhood’ come to mean ‘super loads of fun with no responsibility’? Being a child means play, school, lack of responsibility for things like rent, bills, taxes, car maintenance and politics. You can have all those things and still load the dishwasher.
In my opinion there is a vast difference between a little child of five and a budding adult of fifteen. Teen years is where you need to start giving them the lessons they will need to know to make it in the world. I’m not interested in making life easier for them, in the blink of an eye they will be out from under my wing, unsheltered and I need to know they can weather storms on their own. It becomes a transformation from ‘raising a child’ to ‘raising an adult’.
It’s hard. It’s much easier to say yes, to do it yourself, to pay that for them, to say ‘just keep it’ when you’ve agreed your 18 year old will start paying board. It is incredibly difficult as a parent to take the floaties off your child and then watch them learn to swim. The desire to throw them a rope is overwhelming. It’s hard. But as a mother, I set my jaw and offer advice instead of aid.
This year my 8 year old will get his first proper chore. He will be expected to unload the dishwasher every day. To begin with, one of the older children will buddy him and then he will have to do it alone. Chores will be shuffled as the littler kids learn other aspects to keeping house. From fifteen I know my eldest daughter could have ran the house herself. At 18 – preparing to leave home (she has just begun collecting items for her own place now) – I know she will do fine. That more than just the mechanics of a task she understand the cost of meals, the time a job will take, the importance of doing it correctly.
I understand that children frequently do not want to do chores. But as my kids know and often sing to each other, “You can’t always get what you want.”