Friday, July 6, 2012

A Chore bin.... Really?

Source: via Pattie on Pinterest

My girls and I were talking the other day about the type of Mom I used to be. 
If my kids forgot to pick up their clothes from my bedroom after taking a shower or bath, I'd have them do jumping jacks as "punishment". Some things, like lying warranted writing a specific statement, like I will not lie, fifty times. If they left toys out, I'd pack them up and put them in a bin in the closet and they'd earn them back by keeping their room clean. I used to send them to their rooms. I gave my son time outs : ( and there were a few horrible times that I spanked him. : ( 

I used to be that type of Mom. Thank God, I'm not that type of Mom anymore! I have an amazing respectful relationship with my kids. Via radical unschooling I learned to get away from that type of parenting. I learned that I never again had to punish, smack, threaten or try to control my kids through force or threats. 

So when I look at the chore bin above from my current frame of reference, it just doesn't sit right with me for many reasons.
  • Taking my children's property is not my right. Their belongings are theirs. Taking their things as a punishment is not okay. Looking out into my backyard right now I see a huge golf net set up with tons of golf balls sprinkled about in the lawn. My husband was outside hitting golf balls last night. I can only imagine how he would laugh at me if I gathered up all the golf balls, took his net and told him he had to earn them back. : ) 
  • Forcing them to do chores, again is not my right. I'm the Mom,  I signed on for cleaning up and keeping the house gig when I became a stay at home Mom. I agreed to make keeping the home my job,  not my kids. All I can do is ask for help and be okay with a no. If my husband asks me to do something I am free to say "no". He's free to say "no" to me also. Therefore the kids should be free to also say "no" as well. Even with the right to say no, my kids help out, from my 3 year old on up to my 10 year old. Every week I have a cleaning day. Sometimes it's Thursday, sometime Friday. We change sheets, clean bathrooms, sweep and mop, wash our dog, change her bedding, wipe down appliances and things of that nature. Many hands make light work, but I'm not forcing them. I ask for help, or it's simply they ask "Mom can I help you?"
  • There is no modeling of how to clean up, cleaning with companionship and making it fun. My Mom used to come into my room with a trash bag every once and again and take my stuff because my room was a mess and she'd get frustrated. No greater torture was there for me than to sit and look at that big mess and think, what do I do? Where do I start? How do I clean up? All the while knowing that the trash bag would be making an appearance if I didn't get it done. I figure that my having a hard time getting rid of stuff now as an adult can be traced back to my fear of having my stuff thrown out or taken away at anytime. 
  • Why would I get to assign them chores? No one assigns me chores. I pick and choose by what needs to be done and I can put things off or decide not to do them at all. Kids don't have the same view point as adults. Having toys put away might not be something of importance to them, not because they are lazy or like to make us miserable. Attribute kind positive traits to our kids. You can't force a child to view the world through your eyes, not in chores or anything else. 
  • A chore bin is manipulation and control over one's children. It's saying, this is my house, I want it clean, you don't get a say, you must follow my rules regardless of your feelings on the matter. 
  • The value seems to be more on a cleaned up mess than the importance of the relationship with the child. 
I showed it to my girls, 8 and 10, and they responded with: It's awful. It would be torture. It wouldn't teach us how to clean up. It would make them feel mad at me. They'd think I was mean. They would hate chores more and never want to do them. They'd feel bad, mad, sad, like they would want to squish my head : ).

Sandra Dodd has a great bit on making kids work on her site.
Jennifer at The Path Less Taken has a great blog post about the chore bin. 

Our house is our playground, art space, crafting space, eating space, sleeping space, it's going to look like we live here and enjoy living here, it certainly should. : ) 


Anonymous said...

You make me *smile*. I love your mama heart, the inner grace that you have found, and your personal convictions for how to raise your sweet children. I do believe we have similar desires for our children in that they are is a safe, loving environment, free to become who God made them to be, etc... yet I read your flow of words, and know that is not for me or my kids. I could point out the 'why's in our circumstance, but I don't want to come across as judging you, because I'm not. =)
shine on, my friend, shine on...

Clare said...

I used to be that type of Mum - up until about 3 weeks ago, lol! Thanks for the post, and for writing about all your reasons for disliking those methods. It's so helpful in trying to get a new perspective on these things.

Luke said...

Interesting. The difference I see between your perspective and that of those on the other side is that they see their children as under their dominion. So, while it's true that they would not say and do such things to their spouse, their children are not at all their spouse or even another adult. Rather, the kids are willful, untrained beings who need firm and structured direction to become a well-adjusted adult.

I hadn't seen such a clear description of the difference between these two approaches. Thanks for sharing!


Melissa said...

Thank you Sheri, Clare and Luke for taking the time to comment : ).