Back in the early 90s when I had achieved the ripe old age of 10 or 11, my parents bestowed upon me the taxing task of cleaning the bathrooms during our bi monthly redd up. Never have I fallen victim to such well thought out fairy tale princess scenarios as during those Saturday afternoons locked up in the bathroom while I worked hard at not cleaning it for an hour or two. I would imagine that a prince (or anybody really) would scale the outside of the house up to the tiny bathroom window and rescue me. He would take me away from the putrid reality of having to actively scrub the tub, sink and…toilet! Amazingly, this daydream never came true. I’m still waiting for someone to rescue me from the travails of housework. Chores, work and toils make up everyday life for most people on the planet. In retrospect, it would have been much easier for me to soldier on, doing my work cheerfully so that I could move on to more fun activities like playing with friends. But I lacked something; motivation? the right attitude? the habit?

Why am I recounting this childhood trauma? Since I have been blessed with hindsight {{merely by growing older}}, I have come to realize the importance of childhood chores and responsibility. Ah the miracles of age and wisdom.

Why are they so important? Shouldn’t kids be allowed to be kids as long as possible? Things get done more quickly (and better) when I just do them. It takes too long and requires too much fighting to get them to do things around the house. They don’t have time for chores between homework and extra-curriculars.

There can be many impediments to kids taking responsibility for themselves, but the lessons learned from doing so are very valuable. Here’s what they can learn from accomplishing small acts of responsibility:

1) Their environment, their belongings and their pets all need to be cared for.
2) They can show their caring, love and respect for you and your family members through chores.
3) The world is full of responsibility and chores to be done as they grow older.
4) They are CAPABLE of remembering and doing and are TRUSTWORTHY.

In The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children, Dr. Wendy Mogel focuses a chapter on the value of chores and work. She writes that while having a positive attitude can make any task more pleasant, it is not necessary for your child to be smiley about the job(s) that you expect of them. It is OUR responsibility (as being older, wiser and blessed with both hindsight and foresight) to instill good habits in our kids. They may not like to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at first, or even know what they mean, but no one would argue that it’s a bad idea to get them started down that road.

She also writes that is the responsibility of parents to bring up kids to be good people, not just to feel good. Encouraging them to help out in small ways can be a wonderful way of laying this important groundwork. Start small and grow as your kids grow. Hanging up his coat and backpack can be a first step. Setting the table. Feeding a pet. Putting her clean clothes in the closet or dresser. Getting a drink for her younger sibling when she gets one for herself.

As they grow, responsibilities will already be woven into the fabric of the family routine. There will be less grumbling. There will be more spontaneous acts of help! (Can you imagine?) Everyone will benefit and your child will be even more prepared to become a good and trustworthy person in society.

If that idea doesn’t make you want to whistle a happy tune, then I don’t know what will?

NOTE: The link to the book mentioned in this article is an Amazon affiliate link.