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Child labor at home

Teaching responsibility.

I am a big proponent of child labor – in the house and within the family that is. My kids were given chores from a young age and expected to contribute to the household. This is in direct opposition to what I see in many of my contemporaries homes. While I do firmly believe that kids should be allowed to be kids, reflected as one of the many reasons we homeschool, I also believe kids need responsibilities. In fact, I believe in this so much that I think many of the issues faced by the youth of today aren't a result of growing up to fast, but not growing up at all.

A close friend of mine has several kids, ranging in age from 9 to 17. Her house is always a mess. When she comes over, she always oohs and ahhs over my (relatively) neat home. She can't understand how I can have a fairly clean and organized home when I work, school and live in the home. I've tried to explain our methods, but she waves it off and says her kids would never help out around the house.

Fortunately, my kids don't know they have a choice. From the time they can walk and understand simple directions, they have had at least one chore. My 11-year-old now does the dishes daily, takes out the trash, manages pet food and cleanup and is in charge of keeping the bathrooms clean. My 7-year-old is in charge of setting and clearing the table, dusting, emptying the compost bucket, and keeping windows and walls fingerprint free. Every evening we take a half hour as a family to put away our messes from the day and clean our rooms, so large messes are never a problem.

Another trick is we perform our weekly cleaning chores all at the same time, and on the same day each week. Thursday mornings work best for us. Within two hours, the four of us – two adults and two kids – get the house cleaned from top to bottom. Some weeks it takes even less time. Since both kids and adults have both weekly and daily chores, my kids have never seen it as unfair. We are a family and we work together, plain and simple. Hopefully this will help my boys to grow into responsible men someday.