“Washing the dishes is boring!”
“I don’t like doing yard work!!”
“I hate vacuuming.”
“Why do I have to learn to do the laundry?”
How many times have you heard things like this when you ask your children to do chores? And when we hear that over and over again, we can tend to just give up and do it ourselves! Sometimes it’s easier to give up rather than fight the whining hord. Eventually you can wonder if it is important to continue the struggle. My answer to that delimma is an absolute, “Yes!” In the end, it really DOES matter.
Like you, I have faced those sniffling little beings. I’ve heard their thoughtful pleas and strategic arguments. And though I can’t say that I never caved, I knew their burden of forced labor would, in the end, make them better adults. I knew it was mine and my husband’s responsibility as parents to raise our children to be responsible, functioning, productive adults.
The Bible teaches us that hard work produces blessing and fruitfulness. “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.” (Psalms 128:1-2) So we needed to make them understand that life wasn’t going to always be easy and fun, that there would be many seasons where they would be assigned tasks that were not enjoyable. If we didn’t teach them the discipline of a job well done, we hadn’t properly trained them for life. After all, they needed to learn how to work, provide for themselves, and take care of a family, because God only knows we didn’t want them living with us forever!
Here are some principles we used to teach our children about work and responsibility:
1. Teach them - Make your expectations clear and specific. Saying, “go clean your room” has way too many possible interpretations. Give them specific details of what you are asking.
2. Show them - Cleaning the bathroom may, in their mind, require the use of a dirty sock to wipe down the sink. So show them how you would like to have it done and provide the tools needed to accomplish the task.
3. Work beside them - Do the task with them the first few times so they get the idea of what you expect. Remember, the word “clean” looks different in everyone’s eyes.
4. Supervise them - Have them work at the task while you watch. This gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment and it teaches them to not be intimidated when someone is watching. As difficult as it can be, give them positive input as they work and praise them for a job well done.
5. Inspect them - Remember...little hands cannot do what adult hands can do, so routinely inspect what they have done and be careful not to be too critical. There may even be a few tasks that you'll need to redo when they’re not around. That’s ok as long as they are giving it their best.
6. Thank them - It’s important for you to appreciate what they have done. Yeah, it may not be up to the standard of a trained professional (like you lol), but appreciating their efforts gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.
7. Reward them - Allowances, game time, playing with a friend, going to the park…choose the best motivator for each child. It shouldn't be too elaborate or too insignificant. Find something reasonable that works for you and stick to it. Your words and your rewards should mean something.
It is our goal as parents to teach our children to have a good work ethic, good character, and take pride in what they accomplish. They will either learn it from you, or be unwillingly forced to learn it later. We realized it was more than just doing chores, it was teaching our kids the character traits that we lived by as their parents. The payoff is now I can proudly say my children are hard working, functioning adults who provide for their families.
So give your children the gift of a good work ethic. It is a gift that will reap blessing and reward in the long term. And in the end, there will be an employer somewhere that will thank you for what you did.
Rhonda is a Pastors’ wife, mother and grandmother. She lives in Livermore California, but you can also find her on the back of a Harley taking long rides with her husband, Larry. Rhonda loves God, her family, coffee and chocolate. Her passion is to see people serve God to the fullest and to see them receive every blessing that God has promised. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!