Recently a woman who does not really know me or my family remarked that my children seem to have “too many chores” to do and that good parents have children to love them….not to use them for child labor.
It is at moments like this that I think God is right in not endowing me with supernatural, mutant-type powers like Cyclops in the X-Men series. Because if I was Cyclops, that woman would be a 2 inch high mound of ashes on the floor right about now.
After I stopped seeing a red fog and ceased hyperventilating from repressed fury, I took a few moments to think: “Does this woman have a valid point and it makes me uncomfortable so I am incredibly upset? Or is this woman completely off her rocker and what I’m feeling is righteous indignation?” Because, honestly, if I get this mad after conversing with someone, it is usually because of these two reasons.
After much deliberation, I finally decided that the commenter is, in fact, officially off her rocker.
My children do have chores. Each day they are responsible for cleaning a specific room in the house (either the library/office or the living room) and vacuuming the poor pathetic covering on the floor that one might call ‘carpet.’ They must also make their beds and tidy their bedrooms. I don’t feel particularly bad about all this work because 94.8% of the mess in these rooms are caused by the two children responsible for cleaning them. So really, I don’t call this chores, I call it justice.
However, we are a homeschooling family. This means instead of my children having 7 or 8 hours of schooling, they typically have 4 hours. This leaves a lot of time for playing, imagining, and exploring, which is fantastic and one of the reasons I enjoy homeschooling so much. However, I feel it also gives our family opportunity to train our children in various domestic duties around the house. I picture it a little bit like a trade school in the household arts.
So, additionally, my children take turns learning how to set the table, clean a bathroom sink filled with toothpaste graffiti, empty the recycling, or some other small domestic chore.
The four year old is not exempt from chores either. Right now, she is in charge of picking up her toys and emptying the silverware out of the dishwasher, preferably when it is clean. Next week after she starts preschool (prepare yourself for a heart-wrenching post about babies turning into actual people <sob, sob, beat my breast> ), the four year old will be taught how to make her own bed and feed the cats.
Does this make my children out to be little modern day Cinderellas, scrubbing their life away in an endless cycle of chores? That thought had never crossed my mind before, but evidently that is how a few people would see it.
I see it as my children learning to gradually take care of themselves, so that one day they will eventually be able to live by themselves away from me, and not die of scurvy, hantavirus, or the bubonic plague. I want them to be independent and know how to cook good food. I want them to take more than one set of sheets to college because they will know how to change their bed and wash dirty linen. I want them to be able to balance a checkbook and write a grocery list.
I don’t think this is too much to want.
Lately, as I stare out at the world in my own admittedly myopic glasses (this is a figurative metaphor, I actually wear contacts), it seems that everywhere I look there are overly indulged, under worked children. Children who take parents and nice things for granted.
I don’t want my offspring to be among their number.
So I am putting it out there. Do you think children today do enough work around the house? How much work is too much? Do we really need to teach our children any type of household chores because in the future we are going to be taken over by our computers and live a repressed life in the sewers escaping technology?
Rest assured, I have no laser-beam abilities to fry you to a crisp if you happen to disagree with me, sadly. Let’s just keep the discussion clean, civil, and polite.