Sunday, September 06, 2009

Forced Labor

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.


Linda said...

I totally agree with you. Kids need to know how to clean their homes. You won't always be there to help.

Anonymous said...

Who is this person? You can be sure I won't be reading A THOUSAND ACRES.

Stephanie said...

Wait. Whose lunches are you making? I'm just saying...

ALL chores are the worst chores. Everyone in the house should pitch in. I am right with you on that one.

The reality though, is that asking any one of my 4 kids to do the smallest thing is such a huge struggle. "Why do 'I' always have to do it? 'I' did it last time" and then the ensuing bickering that goes on for the next half hour amongst all of us. It's exhausting and frustrating.

May I suggest the book CONFESSIONS OF A SLACKER MOM by Muffy Mead-Ferro. The book is hysterical and should be required reading for all expectant mothers. Muffy (I know) advocates that parents stop doing everything for their kids and rewarding them for every damn thing that they do.

Paulita said...

I know, I could make them fix their own lunches, but then I find that they are full of chips, or, even worse, they just won't fix lunch and come home starved. So I fix a healthy lunch and don't give them enough money to buy lunches everyday.

Anonymous said...

i see you're trying to employ what little control you have left

Ruth said...

You are so right.

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