Recently, one of our Your Voices bloggers, Liza Schwab, wrote a post about kids and life skills entitled "Are we cheating our children by not teaching them life skills in school?" (You can read it here.) It generated a lot of comments and got me to thinking about life skills I taught my two daughters at home - and the weekly chores we gave to them.
Have I done a good enough job preparing them for an independent life with the ability to handle all sorts of challenges?
Just this week, my older daughter had to deal with some car repair issues and I realized I had never shown her the basics of checking the oil and other fluids in the car - or how to deal with a car repair issue. I walked her through it over the phone but was regretting that I did so many things for her as she grew from young child to adulthood. I taught her some basic sewing and ironing skills, but should have spent more time on the cooking basics.
Her weekly chores, cutting the grass, emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the bathroom, were done with some complaints and accompanied with continual prodding. When she was a busy high school student, it became more of a contentious situation.
With daughter number two, we're learned to be more clear and firm with our expectations and we're letting her be a LOT more independent. I have learned to stand back and let her figure out some things on her own. She has a natural curiosity about tools and household repairs and she likes to help her dad in the workshop. I have more patience the second time around and will wait to jump in and help her.
At 7, she cleans her room, helps empty the dishwasher, feeds the cats, folds laundry, puts her clothes away and will get out in the garden with me for spring cleanup. She loves gardening and I let her pick out her own plants to care for during the summer. We've told her everyone pitches in to keep the household running. And we don't tie her chores to her allowance. Some things are just expected in the family.
When she's older, I think she'll thank me.