Monday, August 22, 2011

Only 1 Out of Every 4 of You Make Your Kids Do Chores? Seriously?

Could the article in this past weekend’s Boston Globe possibly have been correct when it reported on the results of a study published in Psychology Today which “found that fewer than 25 percent of American parents compel their kids to perform chores?”

As if that wasn’t dismal enough, the article elaborated:

“In several cases, children staunchly refused to do chores when asked or ordered by their parents. And one father who was observed for the study so frequently withdrew his requests for chores and performed them himself after his children refused that researchers described him to be functioning as his child’s ‘valet.’”

Which led me to this question: Who’s in charge, the parents or the kids?

Don’t get me wrong, getting the Picket Fence Post kids to do their chores (walking the dog, feeding the dog, cleaning up the yard from the dog, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc.) isn’t easy. At all. In fact I often feel as though I need a nice cool adult beverage after I’m unwillingly thrust into the role of the nagging mom in order to get them to do their assigned work. Even my attempts to short-circuit the griping and my having to nag by clearly assigning said chores next to a kid’s name on the family calendar don’t really work. I still receive guff even when they recognize that it’s their turn to walk the dog. But they know if they don’t do their chores, they won’t get paid. (Yes, The Spouse and I pay them.)

Sometimes it seems as though it’d be a whole lot easier, and that there’d be much less shouting and bickering in my house if I didn’t insist that the kids help us out and work as a team by doing chores. I wouldn’t have to nag them as much and things would be done the way I want them done. (For example, The Youngest Boy doesn't always "clean" the bathroom the way The Spouse and I think it should be done, but he's only 10, so we cut him ample slack.) If we didn't have them pitch in however, I’d be condemning myself and The Spouse to forever doing everything around the house while the children act like spoiled, pampered little princes and a princess while their environs are taken care of by their indentured servants. (I already cart them around places and organize my life around their activities, so I already feel like their valets.) By not enforcing the do-your-chores mantra, The Spouse and I would be sending kids out into the world not fully comprehending the notions of responsibility, self-reliance and teamwork.

I’m completely on board with the Los Angeles psychologist/author who told the Globe that: “Parents are doing themselves, their children and society a disservice when they don’t assign chores and make sure they’re done. Yes, it does take time to supervise kids in the beginning, but later on, they’ll make your life easier and save you money, as well as know how to take care of a home and family when they’re adults.”

If you go by the stats, the Picket Fence Post family is in the minority here. What about your family? Do you make the kids do chores, if so, do you pay them? If you don’t , why not?

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