Childrearing

I’m Not ‘Lucky’ My Daughter Does Chores — I Raised Her That Way

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baby vacuumI have a wonderful, bright, kind almost-10-year-old daughter (as well as two equally wonderful pre-school and toddler aged kids). Somewhere around age seven, an odd thing started happening. My friends with kids would gush over how “lucky” I am that my oldest child does chores around the house. Well, some would gush. Other parents act like making her do work around the house is tantamount to beating her with a piece of barbed wire covered in salt water.

I’m not running a one child, Walmart-esque sweatshop in my basement. She does the dishes and takes out the trash. I don’t think this is too much to ask. But still I will hear “Oh, you’re so lucky she will do the dishes! My little Quinoa won’t do anything around the house,” or “Harrison won’t let me get anything done. He requires eight hours of playground time and an evening massage!” Whut? When did these little pint sized people become the boss?

What people don’t understand is that my daughter wasn’t magically born a little cleaning machine. It took years of work to get her to not only do these chores, but do them without my asking. And it’s not just her. According to this 2009 UCLA study, which looked at children from three very different cultures (rural Peru, Samoa and urban L.A.), kids freaking hate chores. No matter where they live or their culture, kids would rather chillax and play games over tilling a field or walking the dog. DUH. It takes incentive and WORK to get kids to take responsibility.

What I don’t do is coddle my kids. Roald Dahl said it best, “A girl can’t spoil herself, ya know.”

According sociologist Emile Durkheim, children in the west have become “economically useless but emotionally priceless,” and that attitude is turning a lot of kids into brats. Of course, I doubt anyone is trying to raise a little hellion. There are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part we, as parents, are just trying to get through the day in one piece.

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