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So a couple of weeks ago, I posted a meme on the BCU Instagram account that stated if a child can operate a smartphone, then they can use a household appliance (broom, dustpan, sponge, washer/dryer, etc.) For the most part, a majority of the people agreed with the visual, but we had a few people who had pretty strong objections to the image. Here are a few of the comments in part:
“This is nonsense, that a child can use a smartphone doesn’t mean that they should be using one nor that they should be burdened with the family housework…..”
“….Another post telling parents to use their kids as servants instead of providing and taking care of them as parents should do….”
“…Children are not your maids…The job of children is playing, learning, exploring not being your cleaner…there are no kids chores….forcing jobs on people that are really not their responsibility causes anxiety and resentment.”
“I do not agree with making kids have regular chores….chores that are not normally a child’s responsibility like vacuuming the living room.”
First off, BCU Fam, let me say that everyone is entitled to an opinion, so the fact that people disagreed with me is not point of this post.
Next, I invited all of the respondents to be a part of this post/podcast so we can talk about the image and reasoning behind our responses intelligently, in context and in real-time.
No one took me up on the offer. 🤔
Third, this is not a “clapback” or retaliatory post, rather in speaking to the Lord about it, this is an opportunity to take a deeper dive in what the Word of God says about training up children and where responsibilities come into play.
Let’s begin with our anchor verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
In addition, let us look at the meaning of the word “train” and “child”.
The Hebrew word for train is chanak and it means, “to initiate, dedicate, discipline, or train up” [Strong’s concordance]. Training is a dedicated regimen that directs, regulates, and impresses upon the child, in every manner of life, the path to be taken.
The word for “child” in this verse is the Hebrew word na’ar and it defines a child as a boy or girl from infancy through adolescence. This training is not intended to start at age 5, 10 or 13, but instead from the moment the child leaves the womb.(https://cozortscontemplations.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/train-up-a-child/).
This tells me that as parents/guardians, we are not only responsible for instructing our children in the ways of the Lord, we are also supposed to teach them how to be responsible in other areas as well. Training children includes things such as teaching colors, good sportsmanship, safety, playing instruments, study habits, how to drive AND and yes, age-appropriate chores.
As a matter of fact, most young children LOVE to help do things around the house–I have often had to decline their cute little offers because they were not ready for certain tasks. For example, I would not teach a three year-old to handle bathroom cleaners and a sponge or to operate a hot stove because the of their age, impending danger and obvious lack of maturity. However, that same toddler can be lovingly shown how to put toys back in the toy box or throw away a napkin when they are finished with it.
Something else I thought about—in many Christian education (Sabbath or Sunday school), preschool, kindergarten and early elementary classrooms, children often sing a “clean-up” song as they discard snack papers, put away crayons and push in chairs. These are chore fundamentals that, in time and with age/maturity, naturally progress into other responsibilities, such as folding clothes, running the vacuum or putting away the dishes.
Chores are not about adults sipping lemonade under a shade tree, harshly barking orders while the kids scrub clothes by hand in 90-degree weather! Training is about finding fun and creative ways to walk a child through how to take clothes down to the laundry room or properly load the dishwasher. Parents giving children age-appropriate chores is more about the life-time benefits, challenges and lessons that come with contributing to something and being part of a team.
For example, my daughter learned to play the saxophone as a middle-schooler. In addition to practicing, (we’ll get back to that shortly), she was responsible for the care and cleaning of her instrument, rather than me doing it for her–that was her chore, her responsibility. In addition, practicing daily was essential in order for her to get proficient in learning the sax and to be able to play her part in the band (aka the team). Did she always want to practice and take care of her instrument? Of course not! Very often TV shows, friends, or the phrase”I don’t feel like it today” interfered. (In fact, that “I don’t feel like it today ” stalks me as an adult from time to time! Lol!!) Still, she needed to understand that we don’t just abandon our responsibilities because something more amusing comes along. That contribution/responsibility/teamwork concept was relatively easier to reinforce because it was taught early on, versus teaching it from scratch at age 13. In many situations, that’s where the anxiety and resentment one of the respondents talked about can creep in.
My final thoughts here? The meme did not say nor did my post infer the ONLY thing children should is do housework, there was nothing mentioned that said children should do ALL adult housework, nor did it say children should never play, explore, and have fun. I am grateful for my balanced childhood where my siblings and I learned all about Jesus, climbed trees, and took turns doing the dishes and other household chores. God has blessed us to grow up to be productive adults with no adverse scarring from our time with the vacuum cleaner. Lest you think my childhood was so long ago and my experience outdated, just today I got a chance to speak with a young man from our church, Elijah, age 15, about this very subject.
After presenting both sides of the debate, Elijah admitted he wasn’t always crazy about his chores, BUT he couldn’t see life without them as they taught/teach him valuable organizational skills! This young man attends Sunday school/church with his family regularly, has great grades, excellent manners, is respectful, focused and knows exactly what he wants to do with his life post high school. Can you see Proverbs 22:16 in effect?
BCU Fam, God has made us all (including children) with a certain degree of learning capacity and ability to carry out age-appropriate duties. If a child has the aptitude to operate an $800 smartphone with proficiency, then he/she can also be taught to push a button on a household cleaning appliance or operate a manual one, like a broom with little difficulty. I stand by my post and the Lord stands with me!
So what are your thoughts about this controversial topic? Is it biblically wrong to teach children how to do certain things at home? Should kids not do anything at all from toddlers to teens except play and do whatever they want? Did you have house responsibilities? Let’s talk some more in the chat section below!
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