Ask 10 different parents for tips on the best way to raise your children, and you'll most likely get eleven different answers. Anything ranging from giving your kids allowance (or not) to letting them attend public school (or homeschool) seems to be up for debate. The majority of these tips stem from what their parents taught them and had them do as children, so none of it is necessarily bad advice since these kids clearly grew up to be responsible adults.
There is one area that most people seem to agree on: having your children do chores around the house is a good thing. Not only does it help you save time, but it also teaches your children the importance of hard work and pulling their own weight inside of a community structure.
I was fortunate enough to have parents who forced me to do chores (albeit begrudgingly at the time), and I believe it made me a better, more well-rounded adult. Beyond developing a solid work ethic, here are a few things I learned.
1. I Learned How To Take Care of My Belongings
When you're a kid, the house you live in, toys you play with, and food you eat just seem to fall out of the sky with little knowledge as to how it arrived there in the first place. I never gave a second thought to where my next meal came from; I knew it would be there when I was hungry.
Only when I was older did I realize that everything I had as a child came from my parent's hard-earned dollars, and vis-a-vis, how important it was to take care of my belongings in order to make them last longer. Whether it was draining the lawnmower at the end of every mowing season when my chores revolved around lawn care or using the right dryer cycle so that my clothes didn't wear out quicker, I learned that it's much better to take care of the things you have rather than to keep replacing everything.
2. I Learned There is a Right Way to Do Things
Speaking of dryer cycles, one of hardest lessons for me to learn as a child (and even now as an adult) is to separate lights from darks. How "light" is too light? How "dark" is too dark? And why does it even matter in the first place?
It matters because when you do things the wrong way, you only make it harder for yourself in the long run. Despite how much experience you may have about a particular item, if you're unfamiliar with the way something operates, it's better to stop and read the instruction manual than it is to fumble about for a few hours. This especially applies when I need to stop and ask for directions, although having a GPS mostly nullified that problem a long time ago.
3. I Learned to See How Other People Contribute
Sometimes, in my work-obsessed guilt, I tend to believe that I'm the only one contributing to a particular project, whether it was school or work-related. Because I could only see the work that I did, it made me resent the other people who I assumed were doing nothing but freeloading. This phenomenon has even been researched by scientists for decades; it's called a "narrowing" of the cognitive map and results in a lower sense of compassion for those around you.
Doing chores helped me understand that it takes more than one person to run a family, or even a business. I learned the value of teamwork, of everyone doing their share, in order to help the organization run more efficiently. Once I opened my eyes to what everyone was doing instead of myself, it made me appreciate others' contributions more and showed me what true camaraderie is all about.
It may seem silly to us as adults to question whether or not kids need to be given chores at a young age, but doing so taught me a strong sense of responsibility that I doubt I would have received otherwise. Moreover, it taught me the value of hard work - a trait by which I am still thankful for to this day.