Tales from the Bonny Blue House

Friday, May 26, 2006

"In this country, we are apt to let children romp away their existence, till they get to be thirteen or fourteen. This is not well. It is not well for the purses and patience of parents; and it has still worse effect on the morals and habits of the children. Begin early is the great maxim for everything in education. A child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others." p.1 The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Marie Childs 1828. Hat Tip to Lissa in the Bonny Glen for this little gem. When I read some of the quotes Lissa posted earlier this month I had to see this book for myself. The above quote appeared on page one perhaps calling attention to how important the author thought the point was. The only thing about this that I would change to reflect modern times is to change the ages from thirteen and fourteen to twenty and twenty-one. I recently read an article in a major New York newspaper that told of parents who are supporting their children into their twenties and thirties so that the these "kids" would not have to begin a career with any student loans or the inconvience of having to work longer hours or have an extra part-time job to make ends meet. I couldn't believe it. There were people close to my age who still brought their laundry home to their mother's house and brought home cooked meals from mom home to the apartment for which dad pays the rent. Several of the parents interviewed were working long past retirement to provide an easier lifestyle for their children. Huh? Shouldn't your twenties and thirties be the time you put in the long hours, work hard and start at the bottom and the sixties and seventies be the time you slow down and start and easier lifestyle? I am hoping that by training my children early to take care of themselves and others that they will naturally take responsibility for themselves and for their surroundings at a very early age. I want them to know the satisfaction of doing a job well and the pride that comes with taking care of yourself. I want them to be independent. Dave and I were both raised this way and we feel that our parents gave us a great gift. To earn your own way and to learn to care for a house are skills that can be taught at a very early age. I remember last year sitting in the waiting area of the girl's ballet class. The ladies were discussing the ever fascinating household topic of laundry. These women were appalled when I let it drop that my children from the age of four on were responsible for putting away their own laundry. I fold and sort (this task has since gone on to Katie with some help from me) and they must get it to their room into the correct drawer. These women looked at me like I confessed to regularly beating my kids with a stick. They were shocked that I would interfere with the childhood experience by having them do a little honest work. It is my belief that God blessed us with this little corner of the world and it is up to us, as parents, to teach our choildren how to take care of it and simultaneously teach them how to care for themselves and each other. So what kinds of chores do your children do? At what age do you start them? Let me know..


  • Our kids do chores from an early age too, and I get the same reactions! (I won't even TELL my parents who think their grandkids walk on water, lol)

    My 3yo has been bringing us the room (small) trash baskets nightly for at least a year now. She hangs her own clothes on hangers we give her (someone is always keeping her company). I think we start other things around 4 - putting more laundry away, being responsible for an area of the house (my older girls - 6 and 8 - each have a "zone" a la flylady), making beds, etc. I know there is more, but for some reason I'm brain dead today and can't think!

    By Blogger Amy, at May 26, 2006 1:04 PM  

  • I've gotten the same reaction.

    Someone once reminded me that we are raising adults, not children.

    I guess you could view this the other way around as well. I mean, children need to have a childhood at the same time we're raising them into competent adults but...

    ...look at our ancestors who were given chores and duties well before the age of 10. They grew up better because of it.

    Too many today are lazy and self-centered. We're just trying to raise good, responsible adults--- not perpetually self-indulgent children. Nothing wrong with that. Right?

    By Blogger Cajun Cay, at May 26, 2006 5:08 PM  

  • Let's see:
    6yo: Unloads the dw and puts the dishes away, makes own bed, breakfast prep with mom, cleans a bathroom sink daily

    5yo: Sets table for supper, supper prep helper, feeds dogs, makes own bed, cleans a bathroom sink daily, helps little sister bring down dirty clothes

    3yo: Puts away ALL the laundry for herself and two sister (and does a great job!) Transfers laundry from washer to dryer and from dryer to basket. Lunch prep helper. Mops two bathrooms and a laundry room once a week (with mom's help)

    More chores will be added this summer. My girls enjoy helping out around the house.

    By Blogger Jennifer, at May 26, 2006 8:26 PM  

  • I agree Cay. If we allowed nothing but fun what kind of adults would they grow up to be? My kids chores work out to be just a few minutes here and there. Plenty of time left for a fun childhood yet they are learning to be reponsible first. At least we hope they are. Some days there are battles but for the most part they are helpful for the right reasons.

    By Blogger Mary Ellen Barrett, at May 27, 2006 4:36 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home