Sitting around with a group of friends last night, the topic of youth entitlement came up in conversation. I had plenty to share about what we’ve learned over the last year and a half… along with the hoard of compelling statistics describing our youth these days.
We talked about the fact that we parents just can’t seem to stop ourselves, even in dire situations, from racing in to save, finagle, coordinate, organize, manipulate, and so much more. In the name of love, because it feels like love, we race in to pave a way to Easy Street for our kids.
As we talked, I shared not only what we’ve learned about work and its benefits; but also the need to present genuine responsibility laden work. Not work just to work, but something that is needed. These opportunities avail themselves every day in every family… if we let them. Everyone needs to eat, so why not let the kids cook. Everyone needs to wear clean clothes, so why not let the kids do the laundry. Everyone uses a bathroom, why not let the kids clean it.
I so admire one of my friends sitting in the group who doles out the jobs on a regular basis. She often posts them on her kids’ doors. They get the assignment and are expected to complete it by the end of the day. Door Chores.
“We could all use a little dose of the Ann’s approach,” I told the group. “Her kids are pitching in on a daily basis.”
My friend shared, “Today I told one of the girls that she needed to clean either the upstairs kid bathroom or the downstairs guest bath. She chose the kids bathroom. After a while, she came to me and said, ‘Just go look. Cleanest bathroom ever!’ … and it was. She did an amazing job. She was so proud of herself… never balked, just did it without so much as a reminder.”
“Yeah,” I throw in for the rest of the group. “All her kids do the real stuff.”
“Out of necessity.” she added.
She said this because the only reason the kids help out in a very real and needed way is becuase they have to. With four kids, my friend can’t do it herself. When they needed to cut back on any non-essential expenses to help ends meet, they have trimmed to the nub. Part of the trimming included saying good-bye to their 2-day a week cleaning help. With the help gone, the kids in this family step up in a real and necessary way. So she would say that “out of necessity” the kids help.
As I listened to her, it dawned on me that it is “out of necessity” that ALL of us should have our kids genuinely doing the same thing. Not as some “work” badge of honor just to do it, but because the family needs it. Because they need it. Out of necessity, the kids need to have daily household chores on their plates so they know how to persevere. They need to know that no job is beneath them. They need to know what it takes to operate a home. They need to know that sometimes you have to get dirty to get things clean and to serve. They need to know that a family operates as a unit, everyone pitching in. That they belong. That they are a part of the group. That they are needed.
Out of necessity, we all need to lighten the load of paid assistance and increase the load of very able bodied family members … because we love them; because they can; because, though seemingly mundane, it equips them to do much greater things.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Kay, great post! I couldn't agree more! I say all these things over and over and OVER to my teen and tween boys, but they still don't get it. And I even throw in that if they want privilege they need to step up to responsibility. AND I tell them that they can help us have more fun by stepping up and doing some of the "boring" jobs around the house. To no avail :-( What is the magic trick for boys as it seems that girls are much more apt to pitch in.
P.S. I am so sharing this on FB RIGHT NOW :-)
Just this morning I was talking to a retired counselor of junior high age kids and she said it is when kids don't feel needed in the home is when things start going awry. It is in these "chores" that they remain connected!
Deborah – I'm with you on the boy thing. I've noticed that if I treat the protests like 2-year-old tantrums (the old ignore it trick), the job gets done – even if they profusely protest. Just tonight I doled out kitchen duty. Major grunts and protests aside, they did a terrific job cleaning up the place. I sure don't know the answer, but I've decided that the teen years are the absolute hardest time to start this stuff. My door chore friend's kids hop to — teenagers and all. She did tell them that in order to get any privileges (literally, b/c they didn't have any extra cash to eat out or anything) the kids had to step up to the plate. Those kids, in years past, have even helped pool their money, stop eating out, work extra jobs and more to be able to spend Spring Break on the beach rather than at home. "Out of necessity"!!!
They get it. They step up. And they enjoy the benefits … together. It has been a tough, but GREAT road for their family.
Great post, as usual! Ben & Margaret usually try to cut a deal……….can I (get on the computer, plan video games, watch tv, etc) if I (do an extra chore, massage your feet, bring you bonbons, etc LOL). They can find something to do that needs to be done. I also dole out extra chores for fighting. They've gone through some major Chlorox wipes this summer and my kitchen cabinets are sparkling!
Hi Kay, I just read a chapter on Entitlement in this book I'm reading called Modern Parents, Vintage Values. Really enlightening to my own sense of entitlement and that particular sin in my life. Then the next day I get your blog about ENTITLEMENT! Is the Lord speaking to ME!?!?!? Anyway, I wondered if you've read or heard of the book and what your opinion of it is? I'm only a little way through it… The first chapter talks about smartphones, gaming, and Internet and has a lot of the same wisdom/advice you and the Ironing Board have been posting for us. Thank You!
Thanks, Melissa … That looks like a neat book. I'm headed over today to the book store today and will check it out. Thanks for sharing.