Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 27 2011

Give them chores

Let’s talk about the number of times I’ve had this exact talk with a parent:

Me: “Your child needs to improve something. She/he is not turning in homework/getting good grades/staying for tutoring/whatever.”

Parent: “What?! That is ridiculous. Child, you know you don’t have to do anything else at home. You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to do dishes. You don’t have to clean. You don’t have to take care of siblings. You don’t have to make your bed. I do all of that for you so that all you have to do is study. What could possibly be going wrong?”

Without fail, the child is sitting there silently, head slightly bowed, with nothing to do but wait until they finish getting berated. I’ve watched this go down about six million times, and never once has it resulted in even the slightest bit of change. No child has ever responded, “Oh, Mommy, I’m so terribly sorry! You’re right, I am blessed with no chores and can’t believe I’ve wasted my free time with anything but studying!”

I’m not sure the parents’ purpose in saying this. Do you really think your child was unclear of the chore situation and is now about to appreciate it? Or are you just trying to prove to me that you’re a great parent?

If you want to accomplish either of those goals, I actually have some advice: start making your kids do chores. Stop yelling at them to appreciate you, because I’ve watched it over and over and I promise it never works.  Stop spoiling them with free time, since they’ll actually get better at managing their time if you give them more to do. Teach them some responsibility and teach them some time management. It’ll be awesome for everyone.

In the mean time, please don’t mind me rolling my eyes while you put on this ridiculous show for the teacher.

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