Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chore Wars

I'll admit to the fact that I'm a chump when it comes to chores. But I blame it on my mom. I was raised by the world's best Catholic Mom in a home where we didn't do "chores". I never washed dishes or did laundry until I moved out of my parents home, and even then, I tried to avoid it if I could!

My mom had (and still has) a certain way of loading the dishwasher and and doing laundry that worked for her and kept her household filled with five kids running well. I fear I've inherited my mom's propensity for wanting to do these tasks myself, and thus my kids don't wash dishes or do laundry either.

They do help out quite a lot in other ways, and have actually become some of the major cooks in our home. But I'll admit that they are likely very spoiled when it comes to chores.

That's why I was very interested in this article from the Wall Street Journal about the virtues attached to making kids do chores. The article's emphasis on housework as a teaching tool and as a means of serving others has me rethinking my boys' lack of chores.

I'll report back on whether or not this new found knowledge results in someone else getting to load the dishwasher in the Hendey household. My guess is, it's doubtful!


Barb, sfo said...

I don't share the dishwasher loading either. Or the handwashing of what can't go in the dishwasher. Much as I detest dishwashing, I hate finding "rejects" even more! (And no one can pack as much into a dishwasher as I can)

Anonymous said...


This is something I have thought often. The first time I cleaned a toilet was at age 29.

What I think of though was that I don't even remember being aware of mom cleaning the house, but it was always clean.

By the way, I'll be cleaning our bathrooms tonight after the kids go to bed.

Your brother,


Anonymous said...

I think i should mention (as MOM) that you kids had your "Jobs" - they were to do your best in school and all the activities I had you involved in...I think you all turned out to be successful, hard-working adults! And I think you all learned how to do laundry and dishes! Love MOM

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm as obsessive compulsive as the next pathological perfectionist... but when it comes to little people's immortal souls, we have to give in a little. Just like all the performers (Faith Hill, Bruce Springsteen, etc) pre-recording their Super Bowl performances, we might give our kids the impression it's not okay for us or them to make a mistake or be one of God's works in progress. Can you let them help you load the dishwasher? (Tell them WHY you put the tall plates to the sides of the middle water spout.)

My point is that our job as parents isn't merely to provide our children with the perfect home, spotless toilets, and orchestrated meals -- our job is to mold them into helpful, willing little souls and teach them to become part of the family team that gets stuff done for each other. This enables them to be self-suficient (not isolated or too independent)and able to run a household on their own when the time comes -- or if I were to get hit by a beer truck, before that time.

I sure like my towels tri-folded, unscented Downey added during the rinse cycle, and the closet lights turned off. My way of arranging the pillows on the bed IS right :-), but having the comforter thrown up over all the pillows sure beats the train wreck my neighbor would have seen when I jumped in the shower, had my husband not pulled it straight. He is not real keen about the "alien craft landing marks" I make when I pivot the lawnmower, but it beats having to mow when he gets home in the heat of the day.

Children NEED DESPERATELY to see their parents helping each other do the other's jobs when necessary. They also need to have the self-confidence that they can do things appropriate to their age. Being trusted with chores builds valid self-esteem. When there's a job to be done, if everyone helps, then everyone can enjoy recreation TOGETHER, and preferably not just at the same time in separate activities.

Set a great example, trying to be the fine person you want them to be... but help them try on those responsibilities as they grow into that fine adult you hope for them to be.

Your children are very lucky to have a loving mother who wants to provide them a warm, welcoming home. My prayers and best wishes to you.