Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Clarifying Why the Chore is Assigned

Ordinary chore: put away shoes; don't leave
them for others to trip over.
My daughter objected when I told her to put away her laundry before playing. She pointed out that she had not "earned" any extra chores but had instead been responsible and obedient. I agreed, but explained that she has certain chores, including a portion of putting away clean laundry, that are hers regardless of other circumstances, and named to her which chores are everyday and which come and go depending on whether she needs to practice putting things away, obedience, hard work, and so forth. Understanding now, she cheerfully (she's pretty obedient most of the time) folded and put away her laundry.
The conversation got me thinking about how important it is to clarify for our children what we expect of them and why each expectation is there. If I expect my daughter to take out the compost each morning, she should understand that it's one of her responsibilities as a member of our family, not a punishment or a time waster. She should also understand that it's not expected of her sister because the garden compost is in a difficult spot, beyond what we can reasonably ask her younger sister to reach on her own. Her younger sister should understand, eventually, that this particular chore is one to grow into, and she may someday be asked to do it once she is old enough to do so.
Part of being a member of our family: help with the dishes.
On the other hand, when I tell one of my daughters to vacuum their bedroom, they should know that this particular chore is an unusual situation brought on by their own choices. I need to make the connection clear for them between their irresponsibility and the additional chore. They need to understand that their poor decision has caused themselves extra work and they could have avoided that extra work by making better decisions. By making the connection clear for them, hopefully they will learn more quickly to make those good decisions than they would if they thought they were getting away with irresponsible behavior. Hopefully they will also understand that certain chores are not meant to be disciplinary, but their responsibilities as individuals and as members of a family.
Linked with Works for Me Wednesday and Fellowship Friday and Modest Monday

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