Should Our Kids Do Chores?

“We don’t have chores because school is our job,” announced my 10-year-old niece as my son cinched the overflowing trash bag in the kitchen to take it outside.  Never mind that it was summer and school was not in session during the season my nieces and nephews came to live with us. At first my nieces gloated and waited to be served while my kids poured their own drinks, washed their own dishes, made their own beds, cleaned up their messes, did their own laundry, took care of the dogs, and mowed the lawn. To compound the difficulty, their sweet mom said she didn’t believe in chores because “serving them is the way I show love”.   

Maybe I appeared as selfish and unloving, but I didn’t give my kids chores out of selfishness.   Most of the time, it would be easier to do it myself than to teach, remind, and follow up.  As a working mom, I need my kids to help, but even if I did not work outside the home, I would still have them doing the same chores. It’s just a part of being in a family and learning to take care of your space.  Work is not a curse; it's a gift. Besides, play is more relished after working hard.

In Kay Wills Wyma’s book Cleaning House, (see my book review), she says that when we do everything for our kids, they receive “a big fat load of free time, reinforced expectations of being served, and confirmation that they belong on the sidelines of life. We made it easy for them to assume that many doable tasks fall outside their realm of competency or responsibility.” (p.168)

Could you hear me cheering as I read that?  I have felt much in need of reinforcement that I was doing the right thing by assigning chores to my children, especially when they perform their tasks grudgingly, while recently my nieces and nephew actually get excited about pitching in and helping out joyfully for no compensation.

“We should view daily household chores as a necessity because the kids themselves need to work. Our kids need to know how to persevere. They need to know that no job is beneath them. They need to know what it takes to operate a home. They need to know that sometimes you have to get dirty to get things clean. They need to know how to serve. They need to know that a family operates as a unit, everyone pitching in. They need to know that they belong, that they are a part of the group, that they are needed.” (page 169)

The best part – my kids actually have started to feel a little good about the fact that they have chores. I think maybe deep down they like being entrusted with responsibility, and they are becoming aware that it is building their character and preparing them for adulthood. Yes, our kids should do chores. 

Linking up with A Pause on the Path and Finding Heaven


  1. I believe part of "training them up in the way they should go" involves investing in teaching them how 'life' works. Life isn't handed to them while they lie around on the couch texting and gaming. Life isn't served to them just because they attend school.
    And parenthood isn't about serving our children's every whim. It's about 'training' them to live life. And yes... call it chores, call it responsibilities, call it helping around the house - it's all preparing our children to live responsibly and possess the character to contribute rather than take from society.
    A resounding "YES!!" kids should do chores.

  2. I just made the kiddos a chore chart yesterday. I expected moans and groans, but they loved it. B kept adding more chores because he felt I didn't give him enough. :) I don't think this will happen when the newness wears off...but the day ran a lot smoother and the kids were proud of their work.

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  4. I began working a paying job outside of the home at the age of twelve. My responsibilities included cleaning the bathrooms--men's bathroom at a gas station, need I say more about no job being beneath me?--picking up trash, taking the trash to the dumpster, hand drying cars as they came out of the automatic car wash, and vacuuming cars. Basically, the same stuff I learned to do at home.

    Chores at home are excellent for teaching necessary life skills, work ethics, and choosing the right priorities that will never be taught in schools. A parent does a terrible disservice to the child when not giving chores according to his ability. My daughter began picking up her room at two years old: if she was capable of getting the toys out, then she was just as capable to put them back where they belonged. She was setting the table for meals at four years old, the same age she began taking piano lessons.

  5. Yes kids should learn to do chores. Kids are very sheltered these days not through their own fault of course, it's just the way the world around us has evolved.
    Discipline is hard to enforce concurrently while trying to motivate expression which they need for their higher level of intelligence. Striking balance of all things necessary is tough when academics makes such tough demands and everyone else is just racing to keep up and not loose out.

  6. My kids did most of the chores in the house. Even my two autistic sons had chores. When my daughter was carrying in the groceries one day and saw that I wasn't helping, I reminded her that that was her job. She said, "What's your job?" I answered, "Making the money to buy the groceries." I never paid them to do chores. It was part of their responsibility as a family member.