6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6
It is one of my goals in life to raise my children, particularly my son, in such a way that my future daughter-in-law (or son-in-law) doesn’t hate me. In other words, when both my daughter and my son leave home, I expect them to be able to cook, clean, do laundry, pick up after themselves, fix minor household problems, keep the household “books,” etc. In my house, there is no line of women’s work and men’s work.
When Mike and I first got married there was a definite “unspoken” line. And asking him to clean the bathroom crossed it. We have worked through those issues (mostly), but I want to make sure that we aren’t the cause of another generation of misguided gender issues, particularly regarding housework.
So, I was a bit surprised as I was discussing this with some friends recently when I felt chastised for teaching my daughter and son how to do their own laundry at the ages of 10 and almost 8. And expecting them to make their own lunch for school if they want to take it. The reason given for not doing these things was, “it’s too much work to go behind them and clean up the mess,” and “I’m too anal about the way I like things done.” And yet, all I could think was 1) I don’t have time to do everything for my kids; 2) I don’t want my kids to see me as some kind of maid that does everything for them; 3) how will they ever learn to do it right and well if you never let them do it; and 4) if I, Miss OCD herself, can learn to let some stuff go for the betterment of my kids, anyone can :).
Yes, it is a super-big pain in the rear to constantly have to walk around and remind them to put the bread and peanut butter away. I do sometimes think it would be easier (and I am tempted to come in behind them) to clean the bathroom myself. I get annoyed when they don’t put their laundry away in the right places. And I would love it for their rooms to be clean all the time without having to go in and point out the places they have missed. But I feel like I wouldn’t be doing them any favors by doing it for them. And I would be setting myself up to be hated by my future daughter- and son-in-law.
When we read the verse that I put at the top of this post, much of the time we think in terms of raising children up to live life for Christ, which I believe is true and very important, but I also believe that it is true about the stuff we encounter in everyday life as well. And I think there is a feeling that there will always be time to teach them those things. But to me, the truth of the matter is I only have so many years where I am the primary influence in my children’s life before their peers start taking over that spot. I only have so much time before they start spending more time away from the house than in it and I feel very strongly that by teaching them responsibility at a young age, it helps them as they grow up to accept new responsibilities as they encounter them.
Would I like my house to be cleaner than they get it when they clean? Yes! But not at the expense of them not learning to clean.
Would I like my counters not covered in crumbs, peanut butter, jelly, pancake batter and other various food items? Yes! But not at the expense of them not learning to cook.
Would I like it if there weren’t items of clothing on the floor by the washer and their clothes were not so wrinkled? Yes! But not at the expense of them not learning how to do laundry properly.
So, here’s what I would like from you on today’s post: where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you do it all for your kids? Are your kids expected to do everything themselves? Or do you fall somewhere in between? Is 10 and 8 too young to be doing laundry and mopping floors? If your kids are grown, how did you handle these things? If you don’t have kids, how do you think you would handle these things? Let’s start a discussion in the comments section below. I will moderate comments, so be kind. 🙂