November 09, 2009

One Thing That Gets My Goat

I recently spoke with a friend from my Moms' group via FB. She's got 4 kids, all girls, and she stated how tired she was, and how much there was to do...I asked what was up, and she just said that cleaning up after all 4 girls, doing the laundry and various chores, in addition to taking the kids to their various extracurricular activities along with caring for her husband and the like she was pooped and having a hard time making her appointments with herself for gym and haircuts and groceries.

I asked what the girls were doing around the house, and she told me nothing but making the mess.

Turns out that her girls are up to date on the latest and greatest Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Glee, fashion, and hair styles, and can do a wicked impersonation of Demi Lovato, but none can make a bed, sort dirty clothes, put away clean clothes or carry their dishes from the table to the sink and/or dishwasher...

In what I truly hope and pray was a kind and loving manner, I asked her when she was planning on introducing chores and responsibilities to the girls...she was surprised, and asked me what I meant. I answered that I meant just that - when would the girls start to have things that they'd have to do...make their beds, put their clothes away, help with setting/clearing of table...not even going into things like emptying trash, sorting laundry, carrying laundry to laundry room, helping fold, helping clean up the house by dusting, tidying and the like. She was amazed that I would think "little kids" should be doing those things. I answered that Capt and DG are already responsible for picking up their toys, putting away or getting their shoes and coats, and carrying their empty dishes to the counter by our sink to be rinsed and loaded into dishwasher. They help set the table for meals, and help empty the clean dishes from the dishwasher. They also listen (mostly) and therefore enjoy a much freer childhood than most kids I know.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for child slavery or child labor...I am, however, advocating teaching children life skills, regardless of gender.

I, for example, could have run my parent's household, by the age of 13. I knew, by that time, how to cook a meal, take care of the laundry from start to finish - including ironing a military crease into a shirt and slacks, strip and make a bed with hospital corners that you can bounce a quarter off of, sew a seam that would rival a sewing machine's work, shovel snow, rake leaves, mow and trim a lawn, pull weeds, change a diaper, change oil in most vehicles, change a flat tire, change a spark plug (pre-gapped or not), change batteries in most anything that has one, rewire a small appliance, and change a furnace filter.

This is not because my parents forced us to do these things in order to allow them play bingo every night, or lounge around the house all the time. Everyone in my house knew house knew how to do these things...we were all given responsibilities as we got older.

From putting away our toys and sorting laundry, to setting and clearing a table, preparing a meal, doing the grocery shopping, cleaning a bathroom, to yard and car work...as we got older, we were given more and more responsibilities.

Rest assured, there were no harsh punishments for doing things "wrong"...or for not doing them. We were disciplined with love, never with anger. But, we were also expected that we would all contribute to the running of the household, happily and willingly...

That sounds harsh in black and white, but it was in no way harsh.

We were still allowed lots of time to play and have fun, riding our bikes, playing in the yard, going to our friends' homes, having our friends over...sleepovers, birthday parties, Church, many things that were fun...but it was tempered by being taught that the fun came after the responsibilities were met...

I know my parents had a dual reason behind this. First was to teach us how to do things that we'd need to know how to do, making us independent and responsible. Second was that there were 5 of us kids, and my folks both worked full time out of the house, and there was no way on this planet that they'd be doing all the work while we kids just did our own things!

I have a tough time with parents who say their kids need to focus on being kids, or they "can't" do their school work and chores too...and I wonder where that mindset comes from.

I know my friend is not a bad parent or a bad person...I just think she's doing her girls a huge disservice in not teaching them that there is a balance between fun and work...what will happen when those girls get jobs, or go to college and are on their own?

I think it goes along with the new show I found called "Bank of Mom & Dad" where parents come in and "rescue" their daughters who have out of control spending...these girls just spend and spend and spend without thinking of consequences, and their parents come in and help them learn about budgets and how to live without the things they think they must have. One episode showed a young lady who took her clothing to a Chinese laundry in San Francisco, because she didn't know how to do her own, and her friend did it because it was easier to just take it there and pick it up the next day...

It is just one of those things that I think is WRONG with society today...we somehow have gone from teaching children to be a part of a community by GIVING - be it to their own family or to others of time, service, goods, into these selfish, self-absorbed little monsters who must have anything and everything yesterday, if not sooner...

Feel free to disagree with me, call me out, whatever...but that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

3 comments:

Inkling said...

Yeah, that gets my goat too. I am trying so hard not to judge other parents I see, because I don't want it coming back to bite me, if you know what I mean. But I saw a little boy - probably about four - at the hotel restaurant this last weekend eating breakfast in his footed pjs and snow boots. He had eggs, french fries, and coke for breakfast. Aside from his food choices, his manners were lacking and he was just a bit disrespectful to the staff and to his folks. It left me realizing that I better work hard so I don't ruin my own child, teaching him instead to have manners and responsibility, not to mention a desire for actual breakfast food.

Woman In The Midst: Raw said...

I am SO with you on this. When I saw that my kids were old enough to pull ALL their toys out and scatter them about I knew they were old enough to drag them all back to the playroom and put them away. Not slavery just teaching responsibility and I totally agree that your friend is doing a HUGE disservice to her daughters, who, let's face it, as women, we are the keeper of the homes, the husbands, the children, the appts., the everything and delegating responsibility is not only wise it's needed. We're not slaves either! I went on strike once and that sure got everyone's attention! As it turned out, teaching my children responsibility from a very young age came back to our family in a million and one ways when I was diagnosed with cancer. No one could believe that my 4 children had it together and knew exactly how to run the house and it made them feel good about something when everything in their world, at that time, seemed to be crumbling.. It was a horrible, horrible position for them to have to be in but they did it, I couldn't be prouder and I will be eternally grateful to all of them..

Penny said...

I agree with you..kids NEED to know how to function in life besides the fun stuff. I was a single Mom of 2 boys and I always said that we all lived in the house, so we all needed to take care of it. They did laundry, cooked meals, cleaned their rooms, mowed grass, planted flowers, just whatever was needed to be done. Now as adults, they both can keep a great house, my youngest is a fabulous cook, my oldest lives alone and keeps a very clean apt..they are responsible adults. If you dont teach your kids responsibilities, who will?? When my youngest went to college, he had to teach his friends how to do laundry!! When my oldest got his first place and had roommates, he had to explain to them about taking out the trash and doing dishes...so dont ever apologize about giving your children instruction on how to make it in this world...they need to know all that we can teach them and that includes cleaning, cooking, auto repairs, mowing...etc!!