- Reliable Bob building a chicken coop at home.
I spent the morning helping Reliable Bob, my “starter husband” of 29 years, install a laminate floor at a customer’s house. Bob left the golden handcuff of corporate America six years ago and founded a home renovation business.
Bob likes to work with an apprentice, and he’s had a few since he set up shop. As his apprentice this morning, my job was to help him — by sweeping the floor, going for coffee and supplies from the truck, sawing pieces, and recycling materials.
My objective was to make myself useful doing menial work — which requires the right attitude, interest and some aptitude.
Not all of his helpers have displayed the right attitude, interest and aptitude.
As Bob went out to the truck for supplies and left me alone, I joked, “Now that the boss is out of sight, I don’t have to work until he comes back.”
Some helpers had that poor attitude, and Bob couldn’t stand them. They took no initiative, showed up late, called in sick often, were poor listeners, and looked forward to cigarette breaks. They got eventually got fired.
Chores are the best way to teach children a work ethic – starting when they are 3 years old and continuing until they leave home. My upcoming book, “Raising Able: How Chore Empower Children,” touts the long-term benefits of a childhood regime of chores.
Children and teens don’t have to:
- Like the chores,
- Want to do chores or
- Get up at dawn to milk cows.
They just have to do a few chores around the house for the common good, and be held accountable do them regularly. The chores can be as simple as sweeping the floor and taking out the garbage daily.
Notice I didn’t say acceptable chores are ”to clear their own dish and clean their own room.” The chores must be done for the common good. Do not pay them for the chores, other than a weekly allowance unrelated to the chores.
In the rushed lifestyle of today’s families, many parents don’t want to burden children with chores. If your lifestyle is so busy that children don’t have time to sweep the floor every night, re-evaluate your choices and consider making some changes.
Chores develop a host of beneficial personality traits, such as strong self-esteem, responsibility and confidence. Children learn practical skills and project management. Children who do chores can feel valued, connected to their families and capable.
Being held responsible to do something as simple as sweeping the floor every night creates myriad long-term benefits.
Next: how to use family meetings to get children started doing chores.