In the past, children fulfilled a significant role in the survival of the family. Before supermarkets and washing machines, families were burdened with a tremendous amount of work. Food had to be prepared from scratch, clothes had to be handmade, wood had to be chopped, and crops and livestock had to be tended to. Washing the family’s clothes was an all day affair. The extent of the effort required was more than parents alone could accomplish. Children were a necessity for keeping the family going. The enormity of this responsibility forced children to grow up quickly.
In today’s world, children are not needed to preserve the family. They have a much lower level of maturity and sense of responsibility compared to earlier generations. Children now spend much of their time uninvolved in the family. They are involved in sports, lessons, the Internet, video games, TV, and phone calls with peers. They have become “me” directed rather than “we” directed.
Doing chores is a way for children to increase self-confidence, internalize values, and become cooperative family members. Parents who do not have children do chores are missing an opportunity for character building. There are three valuable benefits of doing chores.
1. Chores build responsibility.
One job of a parent is to prepare children for the real world. Thus, children need to learn to be accountable. By the time they reach their later teens, they should be well on their way to having the skills for assuming responsibility and functioning independently. They should be able to wash their own clothes, prepare meals, manage money, and be responsible for the consequences of their choices and actions.
2. Chores strengthen moral development.
Doing chores teaches family beliefs and values. Children learn to be cooperative, considerate, and contributing members of the family. They learn everyone pulls their weight and does their fair share. This promotes reciprocity, a sense of belonging, and good citizenship.
3. Chores enhance self-esteem.
Positive self-esteem is one of the most important factors for success in life. Doing chores well creates feelings of accomplishment. When children know their efforts are regarded with value, their feelings of worth and self-esteem grow. The child sees his or her efforts contributing directly to the well-being of the family. Praise and appreciation for a job well done helps children to feel valuable and worthwhile.