Wednesday, March 31, 2010

what's missing here?

King and I have just had a long talk... he is upset that we are constantly having to nag our children anytime we need them to do a chore. We have quit paying them to do chores, because that wasn't working. When you do ask them to do anything even slightly more than their "baseline" chores, they do any combination of grunting, groaning, rolling their eyes, slumping their shoulders, or sighing. So much so that he is to the point of not wanting to ask them to do anything at all.

And now, he feels sorry for #2. "I think he is bored. He never wants to do anything except throw a ball into the air over and over again, or sit in front of a book, the TV, or the computer."

I, on the other hand, do not feel sorry for #2 (nor any of the rest of them), because I am not his social director. He has various activities throughout the year that we get him involved in that I think he, and the other children can be referred to as very fortunate (dare I say spoiled?).
To help prove my point, I added the following:
  • These kids are being raised with a strong, devout, faith-based belief system.
  • These children have two parents who are married and who love each other. They see these parents work out any disagreements in a respectful way. We do not smoke. We are not drunks.
  • These children have a nice home in which to live.
  • These children have clothes to wear.
  • These children know that they will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner not to mention snacks in between. They never have to hear their tummy gurgling or feel pain because of hunger. They even get to eat out a fair amount.
  • These children are privileged enough to be able to attend a private school in which they are not only allowed to pray, but the faculty prays with them. They do not have to go to school fearing for their lives. Their teachers are not glorified babysitters. They do not have to ride Satan's minivan: the school bus.
  • These children are involved in dance, music, sports, and social activities all outside of school.

There is not a "need" that is unmet. There are very few "wants" that they go without.

Then we discussed how he and I were at this age. Did we roll eyes, slump shoulders, sigh, etc. when we were asked to help? I specifically remember many times I would say to my sister, "Let's surprise mom and dad and clean the house." I remember vacuuming, dusting, changing sheets, and cleaning bathrooms. In fact, I remember that my dad's shower was a tiled walk-in shower. He was a smoker and when he would get out of the steamy shower, there would be nicotine "nipples" hanging from the ceiling in the shower. Gross, but true. (And if you ever lived with a smoker, you know what I am talking about.) I would have to get into the shower and scrub the walls, ceilings, marble built-in seat, and floor. Because I am mildly OCD (I don't check the lights a million times) I take pride in the job that I do and doing it correctly is its own reward. I mean, why do something if you aren't going to give it 100%? Of course, pleasing mom and dad was a perk.

King said his mother asked that they keep their room clean and they had a few rooms each that they were expected to vacuum. She never had to nag. Although he remembers grumbling about having to do chores a little. He agreed that pleasing parents and taking pride in the work was and still is part of his make-up.

So what is missing with our kids. Is it a generational thing? Do they have too much? Is "work ethic" genetically missing? Have King and I not done something right? Should they spend the summer in a third world country? Are we expecting too much possibly? Do we let our children continue to see that we love them all the time, or should we start withholding some of the affection and praise until they "have earned it?" Is "work ethic" something that comes with age/maturity?

I gotta tell ya, this is frustrating. I truly do not have any answers at this point. I would appreciate parents of older children to share their wisdom.


vcrick said...

As a mother of older children, I can tell you...just hang in there. You are both doing a GREAT job of raising your children. They don’t have to like doing chores; they just have to do them. None of us really like doing chores but as adults we know they have to be done. As far as work ethic, it will come later. Even the laziest of children, Zac, can grow up to have an unbelievable work ethic.

lizzerd said...

i'd be happy to take them to mexico the next time we go so they can see what they are "missing."
our kids are spoiled & never do chores either. they are beginning to realize that the laundry doesn't wash itself & certainly will not get washed if they don't take it in the laundry room. also, a little embarrassment at how their rooms look when friends come over is a great incentive!

Bia said...

i hope you get lots and lots of comments about this . . . i'm interested, too.

Anita said...

vcrick is right on it!

Keep the chores coming. I suggest a family meeting to talk about why have chores and how it helps the whole family operate. No rolling eyes. No complaints. Just every member of the family playing his/her part of the team.

Also,I think when we look back (for me any way)I don't always remember my own faults, just feelings like you described...wanting to please the parents I loved so..etc. BUT if you asked my mother...well, she might have a different story!

Second suggestion, as a family for Lent next year instead of giving up something maybe you could pick up a holy habit. All of you could serve others. Maybe one weekend you clean an elderly neighbor's yard. Maybe another weekend you serve at a soup kitchen or help to organize (hang up clothes, fold things) in a Salvation Army store, etc. Serving as a family does help children understand there is more to life than them and their stuff.

Last, you mentioned #2 being bored. Perfect! I always told my thing one and thing two, "Smart children don't get bored they get busy....SO get busy!"

Anita said...

P.S. You are doing a great job. Raising kids is the hardest job in the world. Keep up the good work!