Chores

Chores are a necessary part of life, especially in a place lived in by more than one person. Even more so when that place is your home and it is shared with your wife and children.  Age appropriate chores helps your kids become responsible. As they grow and become more responsible, deadlines for chores make them more diligent. As they increase in responsibility and diligence then your confidence in them grows as well.

More confidence results more trustworthiness which in turn results in more freedoms and privileges. There is a domino effect that leads to them being well adjusted adults instead of self-entitled crybabies. And it all starts with age-appropriate chores.

First question: is assigning chores just a matter of making a list and handing it to a child. Perhaps, if they are old enough, but what about your small children? Just like your toddler isn’t capable of brushing his own teeth until they can write their own name because they don’t have the coordination. The same is true of chores.

Small children need simple chores

What is a simple chore. As the Dad in the family you need to discuss with the Mom in the family what they are capable of completing. And they assign chores they can complete 80%. It is not 100%, it is only 80%. Children are inconsistent and immature so expecting them to fulfill a given responsibility 100% each and every time is unfair to them and will create disappointment in you. As a ‘for instance’ a 2-year old is not capable of taking out the trash, period. A 5-year old could possibly handle that chore 10% of the time. A pre-teen should easily be expected to successfully complete that task 80% of the time, if not more.

Taking out the trash is a good example, because it demonstrates the fact that stated chores have unstated follow-through. Yes, the can in the kitchen needs have the bag removed and tied. The trash has this been “taken out” of the can. However, now the bag is on the floor hopefully not leaking out disgusting juices. The expectations for the task need to be understood by all so you may have to delineate it more: the “out” in “take out the trash” is all the way out of the house and into the bin for the garbage man to pick up on Friday, and a fresh bag put in.

As an adult you get that, but your child may not see the follow-through. So they need help. Now here is the second question. How do you help them? Let’s use a football analogy:

Are you the coach?
or
Are you the quarterback?

Both of those people help the players on the field perform at the best of their ability. Both of those people are completely familiar with what the players are capable of. Both of those people have expectations for the players performance. Both of those people are leaders. So what is the difference.

The coach helps from the sidelines, and the quarterback is on the field.

I’m going to let that soak for a minute.

The coach helps from the sidelines, and the quarterback is on the field.

Are you getting the sense of it now?  The coach looks from his perspective far away from the action and tells people what to do/what he expects/how to perform from over there. He leads his team with his words. The quarterback, on the other hand, stands on the field with the players and also tells them what to do also, but he leads his team with his actions.

The quarterback may not run as far or fast as his wide receiver, nor take hits as hard or as frequently as his lineman, but he is right there in the middle of the action leading his team.  The quarterback stands in the middle and the coach stands on the sidelines.

It is far more effective to lead your family from the center, rather than from the side. Which do you think will have better results for a messy room? Which will go faster?

  1. Standing in the middle of the messy room picking up stuffed animals yourself and telling your child to grab all the shoes and put them away. Then picking up all the blocks yourself and telling your child to pick up all the cars.
  2. Standing at the door watching and telling them to pick up the stuffed animals, collect the shoes and put them away, pick up the blocks, pick up the cars.

One of those strategies builds relationships with your children, and demonstrates by actions that keeping a room tidy is important and that the job is not too complex when it is broken down into pieces. The quarterback Dad is essentially helping the child understand there are separate jobs and he is sharing the chore with him.

The father who stands at the door gives all the same steps but doesn’t help his children be successful through active participation. Active participation is how children learn because they imitate the behaviors they see you modeling good behavior.

So model the behavior you want your children to have when they become adults. The sooner you start modeling good behavior in their lives the better your results will be. If you play the coach role for 16 years then suddenly realize you needed to be the quarterback then you are going to have a really hard time correcting bad habits in a way that builds and strengthens relationships. If you do all this when your children are 1 or 2 then they will only learn to be the person you want them to be.

Remember:

A Dad is the quarterback for his family
A father is just a coach

So if you want to make the leap from just being a father to being a Dad, lead your family from the inside and use chores to build strong enduring relationships with them.

Because any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Cover photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Author: Phillip

Phillip is a dad of three boys married to a beautiful dedicated woman. An aspiring artist and science fiction author. He has been an IT professional for the past 15 years. He is currently working on a full-length sci-fi novel, but he also makes small drawings/watercolors for his school-age son's lunchbox and occasionally pretends to be a comedian. He also still struggles with putting two spaces at the end of sentences.