Recently I went to a friend’s house for a long overdue coffee talk. I greeted her young teen daughter. “She just got up,” her mom explained when she responded with a sleepy “Hi.”
“Summer is a great time to go at a slower pace and relax,” I tried to empathize with her sleepiness.
“Yeah, but I have chores to do.” She explained her life was not as easy as I thought.
“Oh, sweetie, you are barking up the wrong tree. I think chores are a good thing.” No longer was I someone to be trusted. I was a mom with a chore list.
Summer is a great time to teach kids how to do basic life skills. Summer also allows more time to help them develop personal responsibility by holding them accountable to do their chores and do them well.
My kids used to hate my mantra, “Work makes fun fun.” But it is true. How much more fun is an afternoon at the pool when it is proceeded by a morning of housecleaning, doing laundry, or mowing the yard?
My kids are now adults—one married and expecting our first grandchild very soon, the other two engaged to be married very soon. They are taking care of themselves and soon they will be caring for others. The skills needed to do life don’t automatically come with a high school or college diploma. Life skills must be taught. Part of our job as parents is to equip our kids for their futures. This includes teaching them how to take care of themselves, their families, their homes, cars, and be personally responsible. Who will cook our kids meals, shop for their groceries, mow their lawns, do their laundry, and change the oil in their cars when they are adults?
Yes, it is work. It takes twice as long to teach your kids how to load the dishwasher as it does to do it yourself. When our girls were home, Saturday morning was clean-the-house morning. No one did anything fun until her share of the cleaning was done to my satisfaction. They also had their daily chores—helping with dishes, feeding the dog, taking out the garbage, etc. It was just the way it was and the girls knew it.
Just the other day Kerry told the story of how she dreaded seeing me bring out my notepad on Saturday morning because that meant the work lists would be made and it was time to start chores. Why did I have to make a list? Because it was a written record of their assigned duties and without it there would have been an argument of what they or their sisters were assigned.
The thing we often miss as parents is that work is part of life. God gives us work to do. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes at length all the responsibilities of this wife and mom. Many, many times in the Bible God instructs His people to work and commends them for doing a good job (Exodus 36-39, Exodus 31:1-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:11). God also has a pretty stern word for those not willing to work. “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such person we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12). Does this sound like anyone you know? Would someone in your family go hungry if you enforced these verses? Maybe your preteen or teen? Are they not willing to work but walk in idleness and are busybodies on social media?
If we do not teach our kids how to work and personal responsibility in their work, we are not only failing them, but we are failing to be the parents God calls us to be. It’s part of our job.
Here is a link to a list of Age-appropriate chores. Use this as a guide to determine what works for your family.
I’m sure my friend’s sweet teen had a much better time at the pool that afternoon because she did her chores that morning.
Let’s encourage each other—how have you taught your kids life skills? What worked and what did you change up?
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.