Sunday, September 06, 2009
Children forced to do dishes can get carried away with the suds!
The other day I asked Grace whether she wanted to unload the dishwasher or load it. She brought me a copy of an article she read for English class. It was by Jane Smiley, the author of A Thousand Acres, and made a case for not requiring kids to do chores. It turns out Smiley never did chores as a child. Her mother followed her around cleaning up until they could afford a cleaning lady.I'm sure this is similar to the life many of us led. Smiley learned work ethic by taking care of horses, which she really loved. Smiley also isn't making her children do any chores.
The case she made was that children are asked to do the worst chores. For instance, Mom will cook dinner and the daughter will be asked to do dishes. I have no problem with this, if Grace wants to cook dinner, I'll be happy to wash dishes.
Smiley also claimed that it takes four hours maximum to keep a house clean these days, I guess that was her reasoning for why children shouldn't have to participate. I'm flabbergasted by that suggestion. On Friday I did not do a lick of cleaning, but probably still spent four hours after I got up to make lunches (hate making lunches already), went to the grocery store, and made dinner. And this was in between working from 9-2 then 6-9:30. Why shouldn't my kids help out?
I think it would be nice if we could all have someone to take care of the chores we don't want to do. I would be happy to cook a few times a week, but that isn't my choice. I have to cook every day if I want my children to eat something other than chips and salsa.
I'm not certain if I would ever say, "I really could get into cleaning the toilet today," but, face it, it needs to be done.
Simply put, kids should do chores because everyone lives in the house together and we should all contribute. They don't contribute nearly as much as my husband and I do, but some small token is required. Unloading the dishwasher, scooping the kitty pan, running the vacuum. This will not kill them and will help them realize what is involved and necessary to keep a house running at a minimum level of cleanliness.
So Jane Smiley, I disagree with your essay. I'm not sure what advantage children get from not pitching in, other than more time on their facebook pages and the inability to figure out how to run a vacuum when they're older.
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