Living With Children by John Rosemond
"Living With Children" by John Rosemond
January 2024 Issue
Chores are for the Entire Family… that Includes Your Kids
Q: Concerning chores, another expert recommends giving a child a certain number of chips, like poker chips, every month and if he or she fails to do a chore or doesn’t do it properly, you take a chip away. The chips can be used to purchase clothes and other things the child wants but doesn’t necessarily need. The child can also regain lost chips by doing extra chores. My wife and I are searching for a way to get our kids, ages 6 and 9, to do some light lifting around the house. What do you think of this system?
A: I’m not for paying children to assume responsibility in the home. A child of capable age (beginning around 3) should be carrying his or her fair share of household responsibilities. The chores in question should be done because the child is a member of the family, period. Tying chores to reimbursement creates the impression in the child’s mind that he isn’t obligated to do his chores if he doesn’t want, at least for the time being, the reimbursement that’s being dangled in front of him.
Today’s parents are generally uncomfortable with exercising what I call a “Because I said so” authority in the home. That hesitation/aversion traces back to early-1970s parenting pundits like psychologist Thomas Gordon, author of one of the best-selling parenting books of that decade. Gordon maintained that parents who adhere to a traditional parenting model will inflict apocalyptic psychological damage upon their children.
Gordon’s contentions, none of which were supported by research or historical evidence, were taken up by the entire mental health professional community. Aided by the mainstream media, Gordon and his disciples completely altered America’s approach to childrearing. Fifty years into this social engineering experiment, it should be obvious that the paradigm shift in question has been nothing but bad for children, families, schools, and culture.
“Because I said so” authority is nothing less than legitimate as affirmed by the fact that since the paradigm shift in question—from “Because I said so” to “Will you do it, okay?”—every marker of positive mental health in children has declined, and significantly so. The children who are doing the best—emotionally, socially, and educationally—are those whose parents are not playing by the new rules, which boil down to “Keep your children happy at all cost.”
My wife and I awakened to common sense—which had been coaxed into submission during my graduate school experience—when our kids were 10 and 6. One expression of our revived common sense found two children who had been on “family welfare” doing nearly all of the housework and for no reason other than we told them, in no uncertain terms, they were going to do it.
Did they like the new regime? Absolutely not! They complained bitterly. But they did their chores, and they will tell you today that their household responsibilities were indispensable to their successful adulthoods.
By the way, when one of our children asked, “Why do I have to do this stuff?” we answered, “So that you will have that much more reason to leave home when it’s time.” And they did!
Q: When I give my 5-year-old daughter a chore, she does it, but all the while she is muttering under her breath, huffing and puffing, and so on. Do I discipline that behavior or just let her vent?
A: Let her vent! She may have a “bad attitude,” but she does what she is told. She’s just being petulant, which in this situation doesn’t qualify as misbehavior. It’s mere childishness. In fact, I would predict that if you began punishing her petulant outbursts, she might swing true rebellion. Count your blessings and leave this issue alone.
John Rosemond is an American columnist, public speaker, family psychologist and author on parenting. His weekly parenting column is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers, and he has authored 15 books on the subject. His ideas revolve around the ideas of authority for the parents and discipline for children. For more information, visit www.johnrosemond.com and www.parentguru.com.