THE BLOG
02/05/2014 06:21 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2014

Why Not Letting Your Kids Do Chores Hurts Society and Me

My eye twitched when I read "Why I Don't Want My Kids Doing Chores -- Even If They're Age-Appropriate."

The author recounts a tale of when her 5-year-old, on her own initiative, swept up the kitchen floor and then asked the author to get the dustpan for her because it was out of reach. The author's response?

I sighed loudly. "I'll just do it," I said as I swept up the pile of dried peas and other assorted remnants from dinners past.

She then goes on to say how dejected her daughter looked, but she she just can't stand it when her child "cleans" because it makes a bigger mess. She is also tired of everything being a lesson.

This mother's compulsion and her exhaustion from parenting notwithstanding, there is a very good reason why I want everyone to teach their kids to do chores.

Because if you don't, society has to, and I'm a member of society.

Let's go over the first step to creating needy cretins. Little kids love to help, but they don't do it well -- neuromuscular development and all that. By shutting them down when they try to help, you are sending the message loud and clear that it is only worth trying if you can achieve perfection. Well, that's a real "take the initiative" killer.

Here's a little spoiler alert from someone who has teens: Their skills get better, but their attitudes get worse. May Mr. Clean be there to pick up the pieces if you crush their faith in their abilities when they are young. You're not going to get THAT teen in motion without a stick of dynamite and a crowbar.

And this goes beyond cleaning because I don't care if you have a 6 year old or a 16 year old, that clean floor isn't going to last past the next snack. What does last is the impression you have given your child that they are not competent, they shouldn't even try, and there is always someone much better to do it for them.

Those dejected preschoolers turn into lumps of young adulthood who can't wash their own clothes, pay their electric bills on time, or respond to deadlines. And guess what? They don't want to because someone has always stepped in to do it for them.

I have been "teaching" my girls to clean the bathroom for years. Fifteen years later, my daughter is still in denial that the toilet is part of the bathroom. But my response is not to sigh and grab the scrub brush. Instead I tell her, "How about practicing being your best self and do a little better?" Parenting lessons never stop, even when it's just a toilet.

I'm making my best efforts to raise human beings who won't ruin your day with their crushed spirits and incompetence. Society would be a much more pleasant place if we all did likewise.

-Ellen

2014-02-05-PleaseTeachYourKidstoDoChores.png