Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Labor For Their Hands

I had a really great conversation the other day with a sister, we were discussing children. How much work they are, and how it really never ends. I mean the challenges just change as they get older. Yet some things in life do ease with age, for instance the help that you can receive from your kids. Don't feel guilty or wonder if you child should be allowed to JUST be a child. Children's lives should be a joy and wholesome, but there is nothing wrong with teaching them how to labor with their hands.

I was thinking about how much help the boys give me on a daily basis. We have the chores all listed out, and the boys are pretty good about doing them. Now this doesn't mean that they don't need to be reminded, but they certainly know what is required of them and how to do it. This has made my life, of raising five sons, so much easier.

However, training your kids to do chores, and to do them right really needs to be started while they are young. The thing is that it is easy to overlook the little ones if you have older ones, at least for me. Sometimes breaking out of the rhythm that the older two finally know how to do a great job on loading and unloading the dishwasher is hard to let go of. I mean why should I have to train Levi all over again? Nevertheless, I have, and I have been allowed to lighten River's load so he can work outside the home. This doesn't mean that River doesn't earn his keep around here. As long as he doesn't have to pay the bills around here, but he gets to enjoy the fruit of Dad's labor, he will have chores.

So this had left me to look at my six year old, Abram. He had learned to be a bit helpless at times. This had worked for him. Everything was too hard, or he was just too tired, but these excuses wouldn't fly anymore. I admit they had me questioning my chore giving abilities for windows of time, but then I realized I was getting milked like a jersey cow. Enough is enough. I realized too, that by allowing his complaints to be heard, and by allowing him to skate under the chore radar that I wasn't doing anyone any good. Most of all him. His brothers didn't like or respect him, and at times would isolate him as if there was no camaraderie between them. By allowing Abram to behave differently, and by allowing him to form lazy habits I was affecting his future with his brothers as well.

So now, when he begins to complain about a chore, I step into the area of the chore, and I volunteer to watch him. You know, see just how heavy that old comforter is that he sleeps under each night. I have been told by Mr. Abram that it weighs a TON, and that he has to take naps in between each comforter corner. So I watch him, and that is when I can see if he is over exaggerating the labor (which has happened), or if he truly needs to find a better way to master the chore. Regardless, he always feels accomplished at the end of the task. Which is when I chime in the familiar old saying "Practice makes perfect, son." Now that he is starting to do more around here I can see that he feels more grown up too. He is looking at Roman as someone that he needs to look out for, and is even hopping up on the kitchen counter to get him a bowl or a sippy cup too. The take charge attitude is making him feel more confident and truly happier, which in turn makes all of us happier with him. Yes, the whining was hard to overcome at times, and it still sings its familiar tune once in a while, but I don't back down. Even if I want to, for this is what is best for him. Not just so he can figure out how to make a bed or put the silverware away, but because his brothers are aware that he has the same lot and are more compassionate and respectful towards him. That has it's own rewards!

So let's not raise children who are dependent, but ones who have gained independence, and hopefully one day, when they are ready to leave home they will be familiar with hard work and respect from their siblings. These are sure signs of success!


Fifi said...

Hi Trina
You are SO right! My boys are quite helpful when I ask them to be, but because we have a fulltime domestic helper, I can see that they are neglectful in MANY areas. It aggrevates me, as I know that we will most likely immigrate and I am worried that when we do,....... the wheels might fall off!!!!
You've made me think!
Love to you

Jenn said...

Thanks for the great reminder. I am finding (not that I have more than 18 months of experiance...ROFL) that right now the training has a lot to do with my willingness to DO it! And what a joy I get out of watching Sarah clean up her toys when I ask her's a lot of work to train up a child, but so very rewarding!

ThoughtfulMom said...

So, where do I start? I have three boys at my house - 4, 1 and newborn.

What chores should I expect my four-year-old to do one his own (with training, of course)? He's expected to do what I ask when I ask it, and he does well with things like "take this pile of underwear and put it in your drawer" but what chores do you start your little ones out with?

Pinks & Blues Girls said...

I couldn't agree more!! Wow... 5 boys! I have 3... we want 5 kids... too!! I'm sure you get this million dollar question all the time... so I'll ask you how you respond since I get this question EVERYDAY! How do you respond nicely to "Do you want a girl?" Please... tell what to say to people!! :)

Trina said...

Fifi: I doubt the wheel would fall off, you seem to be pretty involved with your kids. I didn't know you guys were thinking of moving though. Must see if you have posted on this at your blog.

Jenn: It really is rewarding! When your kids mind and help out then it is a GREAT joy to raise them.

Thoughtfulmom: Well four is just start the jumping off point. Honestly, I would just start with him helping you really. Putting dishes in the sink, setting the table could be fun, and silverware from the dishwasher is fun too. Don't over burden them at this age, but let them know how much of a help he is. I started off with praising the boys when they were being PROACTIVE...doing something without me telling them to. Praise is a powerful thing!

PinksandBluesgirls: I used to get it more, especially when I have been pregnant. Oh my...the comments I would get I explain that boys are a special blessing, and I wouldn't trade one of them for a daughter. I am honest by saying that I would love to have a little girl, but God knows who is supposed to come to me and why. So how can I complain? I love my boys!!

Nadine said...

Trina this was a fabulous post. I totally agree. Both of my children are grown -chores prepared them to live on their own. If they didn't learn to clean the bathroom or do dishes or laundry when they left home who would do those things for them?

You're doing a great job as a mom and have such a wonderful outlook. Your children are blessed.

Michelle said...

Trina ~ I just wanted to pop over and say hello and let you know that I have been stopping by~ Sarah has not been feeling well As soon as I started to post you a comment she started pushing the keyboard away! I will be back when I can "visit" a little longer! Lots of Love

Lori said...

ok - you are going to have to remind me of all this when I have kiddo's of my own! You should write a book!! :-)