Last night, I did the dishes, all the dishes, not just the sharp knives and breakable hand washables, for the first time this summer. So we made it not quite a month with the kids taking on the daily responsibility for the dishes.
The kids were tired, watching a movie, and one of them had a friend over for the night. I didn’t want to push them to work when they were comfortably watching a movie with their friends.
I felt guilty interfering with their evening relaxation and taking time away from their friends.
Hmm, what is wrong with this picture? I fear I have been contributing more to our growing nation of indulged children than I thought. Time to step back again and let them have the kitchen, while I settle on the couch with a good book.
Regular readers will know that I’m pushing the kids this summer to develop some new, powerful, personal habits. This push has dovetailed nicely with my increasing awareness that like many US children, mine are not contributing much to the ongoing running and maintenance of the household and are failing to become self-reliant.
Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker, suggests that the current generation of US children are perhaps the most dependent and indulged in the history of the world. This topic fascinates and worries me on both a personal level and a societal level. How effective will our kids be in their 20s, 30s and beyond? Will they be the capable, thinking adults that our country will need to get through the 21st Century? While we are striving hard to provide our children with an easy and worry-free childhood, we are bequeathing them a world with crumbling infrastructure, global warming, economic issues, and food pressures that will be anything but cushy. Our kids need to be ready to take on the adult challenges of their generation.
Well, first steps first. This summer in our house the kids are taking care of themselves, their rooms, and some of the basics around the house. Each of them has personal, daily chores and there are also daily and weekly family chores. They are not being paid for the chores. They do not receive allowances. I am trying to get the idea across that money does not magically appear because they made their beds or did the dishes. That isn’t the way the real world works. The work that must be done to keep a household running is not work that they, or anyone else in the house, gets paid to do. I am also not assigning the family chores — allowing them the opportunity to step up and do what needs to be done without being told. When they have done a family chore they get to sign their name on the chart. (Anyone whose name does not appear with enough frequency will have consequences.)
So far, with reminders from me, most things are getting done. Hopefully by the end of summer they will be more proactive.