We live in the wealthiest age, by a moonshot, in history. We eat mountains of food, scrape the leftovers in the trash, children have their own bedrooms, families have multiple cars, thermostats are set at 70 degrees, powerful computers are cheap, pocket-size, and mobile,…
But one of the downsides is that all these goodies have insulated the multitudes from the virtues of good, old-fashioned work.
Children no longer fetch water, sweep chimneys, peddle apples, shovel driveways, or even work a paper route!
The tragic fact is, most young middle to upper-middle class people don’t even become faintly acquainted with the concept of work until they are nearly 20 years old.
So it’s now incumbent upon parents to somehow MANUFACTURE a sense of urgency and scarcity into the daily lives of their children.
Kids ought to face high expectations, ever increasing ones starting from a very young age. Ideally, parents should be constantly thinking of new helpful tasks for their brood.
While I may be the best math teacher on Earth….I admit that I’m not exactly the best at extracting helpful, responsiblity-inducing labor from my children. (My wife is worse!) It’s too easy to make the beds for them; to fold their laundry instead of dealing with the sloppy, slow job they’d do; to make their breakfast and avoid spills and broken dishes; etc.
But I’m fully aware of this flaw and I’m intent on self-improvement.
Right now my kids, ages 5.7 and 7.3, are not only responsible for doing all their academic work, 7 days a week, 365.25 days per year, they are also expected to make their own beds (before breakfast!), get dressed and brush their teeth (without being told!), fetch the mail, help carry groceries, clear the dinner table, put their clothes in the hamper, but really not much beyond that and occasional odd jobs. Like I said, I really need to work on this. If I can get my kids 5-7 grade levels ahead in reading and math….I can or should achieve similar precocity on the chore front.
What would be really helpful, for me, and others, would be a generic responsibility checklist – one obviously put in chronological order. I’ll keep my eye out…