How Have We Changed

Something has changed over time... what is it?

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.    


How Have We Changed — 7 Comments

  1. This is a very interesting topic for me. I am dealing with ungrateful children but I feel I have a unique(ish) situation. My oldest child is recovered from autism but before we could get him to that stage he was very autistic. That meant that much of our life was spent dealing with the challenges that come with autism. Temper issues, gross motor skill issues, fine motor skill issues, executive function, focus, fears, language, etc. The list goes on. And we had two more children after him. Life was crazy and hectic and often there were lots of tears, lots of anger, and lots of lost time an opportunities. We don’t spoil our kids, but because my oldest was often given things, or life was altered to fit his way, and the other children saw that, it has left us in a bad spot. We had to make accommodations for him, it was a necessity for him and us, but now those accommodations must be removed and he does not want that. A very hard position to be in.

  2. Good observations, we have raised our to be hard workers and non complainers and some accomplish it better than others. But the sad part is the reactions from others. No longer is it valued. Folks these days do not value these life skills. Our older neighbors and such value them but most folks look at parents who teach such things as taskmasters. I am not one to really care if I please others or not, I aim to please the Lord with my parenting efforts but it certainly does make me sad for folks who have no appreciation.

  3. We’ve had our children helping in the kitchen for most of their lives. When they weren’t helping they were in the sling still in the kitchen with the others who were helping. My oldest, 14 on Saturday, can make just about anything so long as he has a recipe. He’d been making meals, besides sandwiches, since he was 9. Our middle boy is 5.5 years and knows how to make some sandwich type meals. Our youngest is 3, she doesn’t make meals alone yet. She can go get all the supplies though and be directed in what to do.

    We don’t let any of our children split wood. We live in an apartment in the middle of town so splitting wood isn’t a chore that we have. My parents let me start splitting wood at 12 after showing me how to do it properly and then me showing them I could do it the way they had shown me. I would let my oldest do it after showing him how and him showing me he could do it safely.

  4. I can relate to Maryann; once we discovered the corn allergy, we got our oldest son back. It does, however, carry some baggage from the years of struggle. Hang in there Maryann, it will even out over time. We’ve been without corn for over a year (with some mistakes along the way) and we are finally seeing it all come back together.

  5. Great article! I agree with Penny Raine, that people often think we’re too hard but we are confident in the way we have chosen to teach our kids the “old” style values of respect and gratefulness. Of course, as kids they still push boundaries, want things and have the occasional grizzle but as we say in our household – tantrums get you nowhere so if you want to have one that’s fine but you can have it while you do your chores lol. It’s good for them to learn how to persevere through challenges as it builds character, self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. I know as a kid my mum was fantastic as a nurturer but I was never pushed, gave up all the time and had little chores/responsibilities so now I have trouble completing anything. I am not deflecting the blame off myself but if I had learned better habits as a young person I think it would be easier now to change them. One of my fave sayings is “we are not raising children, we are raising self sufficient adults”. I know that sounds cold and of course we love and play/spend time doing fun things (we just got back from a beach holiday in Hawaii) but sending them out into the world unprepared does them a disservice in my eyes. We are adults and have 20-40 years experience and we have gone through this process so why do so many people let someone with only a few years experience on Earth and who doesn’t know the difference between what they want and what is the best thing for them call most of/all of the shots.. i don’t know

  6. I totally agree. I know as a parent I can / should have done better but my two oldest are in college and they have told me from interacting with their friends how much more capable they are and have thanked me and I know in my own mind all the stuff I didnt’ teach them. I know my own kids have lots of school and many sports and activities so if they are tired , I feel bad and do some stuff for them and then berate myself for doing it. When my kids were little, the boys were asking when we were going on a trip so they could have some MCDonald’s and the other parents looked at me in amazement. For our long road trips I would allow the kids to get a happy meal and those cheap toys that came in the box would entertain them for most of the trip because they considered it a TREAT . Parenting is so hard…. we all want the best for our kids but we all have different definitions of what ” best ” is.

  7. I had chores, but I usually made such a deal out of it or ignored it that my mom ended up doing it so there wouldn’t be any arguments when dad was home. I am ashamed to say, but I was a spoiled girl. I did learn the hard way, when I married the first time. I didn’t cook well at all. It took me a number of years to learn how to cook a simple meal and plan for groceries. I have learned a lot from my own daughter. She gives her children chores and they do them or they lose phones, or computer time, or tv time. They do their own laundry and they may complain, but it doesn’t get them very far. I do think that children should have responsibilities. They will be the wiser for it. And they should be respectful of other children as well as adults. I was taught to stand up and give my seat to an adult…if I didn’t my father gave me a look that would scorch my socks off.

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