Teaching children to work

“Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

A few questions about kids and chore charts prompted us to begin a little series on the subject. Rather than just jump into how to arrange certain jobs and match them with the right little person, we thought we’d start here: The Why.

The biggest reason to have your kids doing chores and learning to help the family function is to teach them the foundational truth about work: it’s a good thing, and we were all made to work.

Contrary to everything they’ll hear around them (and from inside them; let’s not forget how much our carnal natures love work!), work is not part of the Curse, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s not something we survive so that we can deservingly kick back on Saturday morning. Adam himself, the prototype, was made and then given a job. In fact, let’s look back even farther than that. God Himself, in whose image we are created, is working from the very opening of Genesis. We were made to work! When we get to heaven, I don’t think we’ll be floating on clouds, eating peeled grapes. In fact, I think we’d all die of boredom if that were the case. (Die? In heaven? Well, you know what I mean!)

Work gives a sense of accomplishment. It stimulates our energy, our creativity, and a right sense of pride. It just plain old feels good, and we’re responsible for showing that and teaching that to our children.

The other great reason to have your kids start pitching in is that, well, I’m sure you could use the help! At first, yeah, it’s easier to just do it all yourself while they hibernate and do whatever they feel like doing. But you’ve actually got valuable help, right under your nose, if you’re willing to train their hands and hearts. While you’re preparing them for a life of joyful service and good attitudes, they’re actually helping to keep things moving. What a great deal!

So as we launch into a little discussion about chores and such, don’t worry that you’re about to steal the innocence of childhood away from your kids. Not at all. Trust me; there’s still plenty of time to skip around in fields of dandelions after having picked up and set a table or two. You, as a parent, are training these little people, and training them to understand the goodness of work, and how to do it with the right attitude, is invaluable. What a gift you are giving them!


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  1. Awesome! It reminds me of the picture you took of Jameson helping you bake the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Muffins (if I remember correctly?). By the way, I tried those and they were great! I’m looking forward to hearing more in Part II. I can just see Eleora covered in flour now! =)

    Posted by Jen Trelease | August 20, 2008, 5:08 pm
  2. Great subject. I’m looking forward to hearing more. Thanks!!

    Posted by Michelle | August 21, 2008, 5:28 am
  3. It is so much more helpful then I ever thought it would be. I don’t have a designated “chart” for each child so to speak, but what I do is when I am working on chores, I ask them each to do one chore that needs to be done at that point in time. It ends up being one chore for each a day. I’m a working mom so it’s a little difficult trying to stick to the chart when we’re not at home every day. Beleive me…I have tried. It is SO helpful! It has gotten to the point where when I get the vacuum out…my 9 year old say – “Mom, would you like me to do that for you?” It’s awesome!

    Posted by Angela Agans | August 21, 2008, 12:17 pm
  4. Great thoughts, Danica! I’m looking forward to hearing more!

    Posted by Abby Daniels | August 22, 2008, 10:49 am
  5. I tend to forget how much Elena enjoys helping me and how good a job she does on certain things! She truly does love to help and now I just have to find a way to make it a bit more structured and intentional to help nurture that in her, so this series couldn’t have come at a better time!

    Posted by Keila | August 23, 2008, 5:59 am