Friday, June 26, 2009
As I mentioned before, I'm a big fan of Dr. Wendy Mogel and her parenting philosophy. One thing I remember from her lecture at Seattle's City Hall a few years ago and from her book is her convincing argument on the value of household chores for kids.
From the chapter "The Blessing of Work"
In addition to giving children a sense of their obligation to other people, doing chores gives them survival skills. By teaching our children a habit of responsibility at an early age, we give them the confidence to take on ever more complex challenges as they grow older. And helping out at home raises self-esteem: when parents insist that children do their chores, they are letting them know that they're not just loved, they are needed. Ordinary chores are the foundation of our children's character and spiritual well-being.
My daughter is not yet two, so she's still quite a handful during "the bewitching hours". I'm generally preparing dinner between 5:00-6:00pm while she is tearing apart the house and trying to get my attention. It's tough on both of us. So with Dr. Mogel in mind I started to involve my daughter in the dinner making process. I taught her how to snap the asparagus. Of course, she doesn't always snap it in the right spot and we end up with more little pieces than long spears, but who cares - it all tastes the same. Afterward, I ask her to help mommy throw the ends in the garbage and she is always eager to help with that too.
I also taught her how to pull the string on the salad spinner. I hold the bowl and she pulls the handle. She loves it and is eager and excited to help. She is in and out of the kitchen but it's nice to have some ideas of ways she can help and be involved. When we eat dinner we tell her daddy what she did and you can tell she is proud of herself.
In her lecture at City Hall, Dr. Mogel explained the importance of age-appropriate chores so you can help the child succeed and not give them more than they can handle. While at the same time she reminds us that things don't have to be perfect, using the example of the young girl who wants to wash the soap from her hair. She won't get all the soap out the way mommy could, but that's okay, and how else will she ever learn if you don't allow her to do it herself?
If you haven't picked up her book, I highly recommend it. I got so much out of it and continue to go back and get inspiration on how to be a better parent.