Before I begin this post, I want to go on the record as saying, I am not talking about anyone in particular, and I do NOT claim to have all the answers. I was just pondering these things.
When I was a girl growing up in my parents home, I had responsibilities and chores. There were things that were expected of me and if I had to be reminded all the time, there were consequences. Now, I am not saying that I never acted up and rebelled against things. Just ask my Dad and he will set you straight on that one. There was just more of a sense of giving a child some responsibility and expecting them to do it. I had set chores that had to be done each day like setting the table and helping with the dishes. There were also weekly chores around the house involving dusting and vacuuming. I had to practice my piano and just generally help out. Helping in the kitchen was allowed and expected. I was never not allowed to use a knife that I remember. I would be given jobs to do for big holiday meals. I am sure my Mom probably kept an eye on what I was doing, but I knew I was expected to get it done and in a timely manner.
I have observed people in restaurants with their children. Go get an ice cream cone and listen as people interact with their kids about what they are allowed to order. There is often a lot of sassing, pouting, threats, and ugly faces. I don’t know about you, but I would have gotten my hide tanned and not been allowed to have anything. The same would have been what would have happened to my son. I heard a story once and I loved it. This woman took her 6 children into the mall and while there, they stopped to get an ice cream cone. She got them each a small cone and they were enjoying their treat. A man came over and asked how she managed to have happy children when they only got a small ice cream cone. His children were not happy unless they got a banana split. I loved her answer. She told the man that if and when her children were no longer happy with a small ice cream cone, that they would not get anything larger, but they would get fewer small ice cream cones. Gratitude goes a long way.
I know this is not a universal statement but somewhere along the line, something has changed. There are many children who are whiners, complainers and very disrespectful. They have few if any chores at home and not only do they not help, but they expect to be served and sadly, that is what often happens.
If children are expected to help out and they work along side dad and mom, it gives them a sense of belonging and being important in the family. I also feel that expecting them and allowing them to help you in the kitchen gives them life long skills that will be very valuable. Teach your children how to use knives to cut things up. Start them with something easy and small. It often takes longer to get things done with them in the kitchen helping, but it will truly pay off over time. Many of the families I know have younger girls of 10 or 11 that can step in and whip up a meal if mom is sick or something happens. Not only does this make her a great helper, but she is a giant step ahead of many of her peers when it comes to getting married.
This also will give them the skills of cooking with real foods and putting meals together that are healthy. You can share why you are serving that salad along with the meat and rice. By the time she or he is on their own, they will know how to put together a balanced diet and to cook for themselves or their family. Because of all the illnesses and all the news articles about what they are doing to our food, more and more people are wanting to eat healthier. They are listening and trying to input changes. You can give your children a head start. By starting with our children, and realizing they are very helpful and resourceful people and allowing them to contribute to the family by helping, will help to change the next generation.
Lets start changing things back to where they were. Give your children responsibility. Work along side them and give them a sense of accomplishment. Let them use some of the tools that belong in a household. Many kids are thought to be too young to handle these tools when in fact they are not. Teach safety. Show them exactly what you expect. We lived next door to a family with 6 children. I watched their 5 year old boy sweep the kitchen floor one day. He did a better job than I would have done. He moved chairs, got in corners, etc. He had been trained and did what was expected of him.
Do your children help you in the kitchen? How old do you allow your boys to split wood? I would love to hear some feedback on this.