Chores Teach Helpfulness

I do understand that in our modern world of many school hours, lots of after-school activities, and busy work schedules, it can be hard to ask your kids to work when all you want to do is relax or play with them. But what is this teaching children? It's not teaching them good work ethic or life skills. And perhaps it is teaching kids that work is something boring or awful, to be avoided at all costs. If this is the case, what kind of adults will these children grow up to be? 

The Bible says "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." (Proverbs 14:23, NIV). I believe the poverty spoken of here is not just monetary, but spiritual. The Bible abounds with praise for hard workers - which you know if you've read Proverbs 31.

Recently, as I perused an old household manual from 1907, I was struck by a section on children and chores. There are so many wonderful secrets in the text. Here are a few: 

* Children love to work, as long as they can do so with their parents. 

* Allowing children to do chores, starting at a young age, helps them feel useful and helpful - qualities you'll want them to pursue as they grow older. Chores helps kids understand the importance of helping others. 

* Chores can be as fun as play - if parents have the right attitude. 

* Children don't need to do chores all day long, or even for hours a day, in order to benefit from them. 

* Idleness invites sinfulness. Read the passage from Home and Health yourself and see what you think:

"Children, when very young, should be taught the A B C of common work as an index to lives of usefulness. There are few sights more pitiful than that of boys and girls growing up to the strength of manhood and womanhood without a practical knowledge of the most necessary employments... It is a shameful thing, which is altogether too commonly seen, for parents who have toiled for their children from their earliest infancy, not to receive any help from them as they grow to maturity. Boys spend their entire time in school and on the playground. Father can work from morning till night to give them food and clothing and all the comforts of home, and provide them with bats, and balls, and bicycles, and they go on with their play without a thought of how they might help father, even with the lightest of his burdens...  
Parents are chiefly to blame for this condition of things. They labor hard, and bear almost any expense that the children may be well educated in book knowledge; but why neglect instruction in these fundamentals of daily duties, thus permitting the children to grow up...wholly unfitted for the stern realities of life, which they must soon meet? By this neglect, parents are doing their children a serious injustice, which prepares the way for failures, sorrows, and regrets in after years.

Children should be taught early to bear responsibilities. At first very little tasks can be given them. They will need much instruction and help; and here is where most fathers and mothers make a mistake; they find that they can do the world better and quicker than if they 'bother' with the children; and so the education of the little ones in neglected, just when they most need patient instruction. 
But it will pay, oh, so richly, to take time to teach the boys and girls how to do little duties, and to do them well...Tasks should be assigned which will require daily attention at a definite time, and they should be held responsible for doing even the smallest things carefully and well... With wise direction the child will come to enjoy the work more than his play, and will gladly leave his romping if he can work with papa or mama. Let some of his playthings be articles with which he can learn to do useful things... 
It is surprising how they will watch mother, and learn to imitate her...Their work will be imperfect at first, but it will rapidly improve under patient instruction. If at all possible, provide a little shop for the boys, and give them a saw, hammer, and hatchet...There is nothing finer to interweave into a boy's education than the use of tools. They teach him to think, to persevere, and to plan; and, as he works, you will see that his mind is being drawn out and developed along the line of work at which he may be the most successful in after years... Such work will soon become the children's delightful play, and you will discover to your great joy that, little by little, they are dropping the notion that they must be all the time with their playmates... 
Through the door of idleness the devil finds the most ready entrance to children's hearts. 'The devil finds work for idle hand to do,' and 'an idle brain is the devil's workshop,' are sayings as true as they are old...To relieve the children from healthful, useful employment is the very worst course parents can pursue. They will not long remain inactive and natural tendencies to stray into sin will soon lead them to indulge in thoughts that are not pure and beautiful... 
To an alarming extent the solitary vice is sapping the morals and yourself strength of our little ones, and parents with their own hands open the door, and let the despoiler in, when they permit their children to grow up in idleness. A successful man once said that he believed that his enjoyment in work was largely due to the fact that his father nearly always said, 'Come, boys,' instead of, 'Go, boys...' Father should say, 'Come, boys,' when he has work to do that they can help him with. In a positive, joyful way, show them just what to do and how to do it right. Then let them try. Do not find fault nor scold. They are learning, and the little hands are not yet as skillful as yours are and as theirs will be soon, if you are kind and patient and preserving... 
Keep showing, and soon they will do it better, and will be proud of their first achievements, particularly if you give them a few words of praise. 
What opportunities mother has for this kind of teaching! The little girls can help with all she does. Teach them that they are to be their mother's companions and helpers in all the work, and keep up the idea and practice all through the years while they are at home... 
The tasks set for children should be moderate. Over-excretion is hurtful both physically and intellectually, and even morally, But it is of the utmost importance that they should be made to fulfill all their tasks correctly and punctually. This will train them for an exact and conscientious discharge of their duties in after life."
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