Monday, February 15, 2010

Kids Doing Chores? Report These Parents To The Authorites!!!!

Oh, it is Framingham. Well, let's just never mind them, and turn back to our Charles coffee.

The Boston Globe says, "Bucking a modern trend, parents - and children - are finding value in chores"

What? Are you kidding me? Who would raise their child and have no chores? Seriously. Are there families with at least more than one child where you honestly look at your kids, and let them sit there like a bump on a log, while you drag around laundry, wash dishes, and bring groceries in from the car?

Every now and then, I have occasion to be involved in some event where some teens are helping out. It is sad and pathetic. These kids are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. And these are good kids, not troubled youth. They have been told, and sold, that good will and enthusiasm are merits in and of themselves. Having the opinion that we should end world hunger, or clean up a littered park, is good enough. Stamps of approval.

And you know what comes next? Take them out to Mac Donald's because they did something great.

Why are all of our kids overweight and depressed?

I have a solution. It is called "being a working member of your family." It is called "we are raising an adult, not raising a child." It is called "You have two good arms, two good legs, and you are not blind. Get to work." If a kid is blind, they should be pitching in anyway. If a kid only has one arm, they should be pitching in anyway.

There is no other way. This is absolute. This is normal. Anything else is debilitating.

If a child is quadraplegic, get them to tell you when the water is boiling. Anything.

As kids grow, one of our obligations is to teach them mastery, and teach them discipline. And stuff like that. Mastery is recognizing a challenge and knowing that if you set yourself to it, you can do it. Nowadays, if you put a rake, or a carving knife, or a trash bag, or a boat oar, or a cake decorating dealio, in a teen's hands, the thing gets held in a wobbly fashion until you give up on how pathetic and worthless the child is, and do it yourself.

A few years ago, I went to carve a Halloween pumpkin with a middle-schooler. The kid was scared of the knife, and did not know how to hold it. I let hte kid START, then I pretended like the deal was to take turns. My "turn" involved finishing a Jack-O-Lantern after the kid knifed an outline.

"Helpful," sure. People, wake up. Where will we be as a society if a middle-school-age kid cannot operate a knife? A knife.

This Boston Globe article notes that in the 1970s, kid started having less chores, and we all started being obsessed with keeping these blobs safe. Safe from pcket knives, bicycle falls, whatever.

We have handicapped an entire generation.

A generation of kids have headed into the workforce with an attitude that they don't clean out the trash cans.

People - if your employer is having a tough time, it is time to sweep the parking lot and empty the trash cans either before the place opens or after it closes.

Thank God I am old enough to remember the old days. we all did chores. THere was nothing unusual about it.



Because we have "mastery." And follow-through. And perserverence. And, we have jobs because we go do our job and finish it, so we don't get fired for being a dead weight on our employer.

And when the money gets tight because of the economy, we know how to cook a meal. Chop vegetables. How much beans, how much water. How much rice, how much water. We can "preheat" an overn even if an over has no "preheat" setting.

In my era, not too many of us know how to iron clothes properly, if at all. To me, that is old school. You would have to go very far to find someone in my era who knew how to make their own "starch." The cleaners have gotten very inexpensive and convenient, plus we have just gotten so casual. But in the old days, everyone knew how to press a crease.

But at least in my era, we are not all overweight and depressed and entitled.


Yes. Like that little Dalai Lama. What do you think the kids are doing if they are not doing chores? They are playing video games. And who is doing the chores? The adults, or a maid.

So, kids grow up believing that life is about playing video games. They actually do not notice that someone does chores for them. They have no clue. They do not see the laundry getting into the waashing machine or dishes getting washed. That is background noise. That is simply interference in the way as the kids ask for another popsickle or Capri Sun or whatever kids drink now.

Some parents follow along believing they are showing their love for their child, or making their child's life so wonderful. They are handicapping their children to a life of worthlessness.

Kids must DO things, and complete them satisfactorily, which means without mommy or daddy tying up loose ends. Kids need to complete the job. Every speck.

They can master it in phases. Getting laundry together could be phase one. Gettintg it into washing machine, and learning the buttons, could be phase two. Sorting, putting away could be phase three. Ironing could be phase four.

I headed off to college from a home where we kids did chores. We did so much that we were driven to go get a teen-ager job to get out of the house, before we were driven to go live on campus. That was our reward for having motivation and gumption in life. Graduate yourself from chores and enjoy. If you quit your job, you are back in the chore rotation.

When I got to college, I was shocked to discover that many of my peers could not do laundry. This is the generation that grew up in the 1970s as kids with no chores. you can't do laundry? And we college freshman thought we were so smart, begin college kids and all. We could not operate a washing machine if our wardrobe depended on it. when SHOULD a kid be able to launder, up to ironing? Ask the older geenrations. Any normal human should certainly be able to do these things early in high school. They can ALL be mastered - including handling a hot iron - BEFORe high school age, although that is pressing it (no pun intended) - you will hear a lot more stories of people burning themselves as they learn to iron from the older generations who did this at the cusp of teenager-hood than those who learned to iron in order to look good at high school functions.

When do chores START? I kid you not - there are tons of discussions on mommy sites and parenting sites on the internet about this: chores START BEFORE kindergarten. Little things. Just cleaning up a mess. A lot of it is "pretend," mimic play. That is the root of our normal capacity and need to do things. That is how civilization rtains the next geenration. With a four-year-old playing with a broom as mommy or daddy sweeps. That is the jump-start. It is not "cute," and a passing phase. That is the beginning, and you should never let up.

Kids need to be doing these things. It develops hardiness. You learn to rely on people coaching and training, you, oyu learn to pay attention, and you learn that, no matter what happens to you in life, you will have the ability to deal with it. But we raise our kids exactly as you might raise a quadraplegic. Lifting their feet to vacuum under them.

In a household, when WE all share the work, it is easiest on all of us. Life is not drudgery. you just do it, knock it out, and move on. Please don't think I am declaring that any kid should do chores 24/7. No. Just be normal.

Our BONES need physical strain to properly grow. When astronuats go into outer space, with no gravity, they MUST do special exercise, or they lose bone mass. Even within 2 weeks. Now, think about this. Only the mose awesome people get to go into outer space. They are not sending old ladies with osteoporosis. They are sending fit, robust adults. The normal way to maintain bone health is WORK. Same with mental health.

This is how it is with our mental health. We must be doing things, and accomplishing things, in order to be normal. This is not a "cure" for depression. It is "normal." Depression is abnormal. Or, it used to be. Now, depresson is normal, and so are the meds. And there is a generational trend to all of this.

Kids need to be doing chores. And completing the work. No wonder Biederman has such an easy time finding childhood bipolar disorder cases in Boston. And preschool bipolar. Here is a "treatment" for ya: a mop and a bucket. Get to work.

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