A study released this month shows three quarters of children do no household chores, despite the majority of parents spending over five hours a week cleaning (and the rest I hear you shout!).
Consumer analysts Mintel found that 76 per cent of children aged 6 to 17 have no cleaning responsibilities at all.
I can’t imagine that this news will come as a surprise to many parents. It is hard enough just to get kids out of bed, away from screens, homework completed and sent off to school at least looking like they come from a clean home.
The thought of adding on extra tasks to be completed often means more nagging, more conflict, and just too much hassle. Then there is the fact that the task often needs re-doing anyway by an adult so you might as well just do it yourself in the first place!
But are we catastrophically letting our children down compared to past generations? Exactly where and when is a child supposed to learn the basic skills of cooking, watering a plant, folding some clothes or making a bed?
Surely we can not pass this on to the over-burdened education system along with lessons on gender equality, sex education and social justice. No the buck with this one must stop in the home and with parents.
Unfortunately in my private practice I see adolescents who would struggle to operate a washing machine and couldn’t tell you the difference between a flat or fitted sheet, let alone prepare a basic meal. I worry for the future of these young adults – and not just because they are short of basic life skills.
I worry because the lack of chores and household responsibility simply contributes to the emergence of a generation who has little ability to delay gratification and has higher levels of entitlement and narcissism.
Basic chores from a young age set the tone for expected contributions, helps children feel connected to the family unit and increases their feeling of competency and self worth. I see children who have been raised with weekly chores as having developed higher maturity levels and better problem solving abilities.
And if all of those reasons are not enough to convince you to start setting chores early, do it simply because your job as a parent is to produce a fully functioning independent human in 18 years – and they are much cheaper than paying for a cleaner!
- Clare Rowe, Child & Adolescent Psychologist, clarerowe.com.au