I was talking with some other moms and we were talking about what chores our 10 year old sons are responsible for. Right now, my son makes his bed, sorts his clothes and brings the basket downstairs to the washer, and makes his own breakfast. For granted, he’s limited to a few quick things. He can toast waffles, make a cup of instant oatmeal in the microwave, and prepare a bowl of cold cereal.
But I already have a plan forming. When he’s a little taller I’ll teach him how to load the the washing machine. And when he’s a little older he’ll get his first cooking lesson on the many ways to prepare eggs. I figure if he can make eggs, he’ll never starve, right?
I’m teaching him to be self-reliant, I tell myself. I’m not pushing him to grow up, too fast. I’m not asking him to do meaningless tasks, I’m expecting him to be able to take care of himself. There’s a certain amount of pride that goes along with taking care of oneself, of being self-reliant. I think it’s important that psychologically he understand the difference between “chores” and the things we do that may seem like work but instill confidence and competency.
But self-reliance does not mean excluding others.I want him to be thoughtful and helpful of others. And here’s the thing, he does try to help others in school. He’s good at math and when a classmate is stuck on a problem he likes to help them. Sometimes the teacher appoints him class tutor during math. He comes home and tells me all about it. He’s all lit up inside. He’s thrilled the teacher picked him and he feels good helping others.
So, how do I instill that same feeling in him when I need him to clean his room? Or fold his laundry? (Yes, I started in on that chore.)
Good question, Bert.
Perhaps, I could tackle it from an organizational and planning standpoint. Knowing that our things have been put in their designated spot is helpful, a tidy room is calming, and knowing our favorite shirt is clean and in the drawer is always reassuring.
I could try to instill a feeling of… preparedness. (yeah, right!)
I have to laugh. My son is great at being prepared for things he wants to do. If he’s going to a baseball game the next day, his backpack is packed the day before.
I guess there are some things he is going to have to do regardless if he wants to or not. And that’s an important life lesson, right?