Parenting Questions, bring them on! I mean we’ve been on the Today Show, we have some clout, lol. It’s not often, in fact, it’s incredibly rare that I get a question from a reader that doesn’t have to do with homeschooling, RVing or food. These are a dime a dozen and I love corresponding and offering advice. If I can help, I will certainly try. And while I love homeschooling, RVing and food, what I love more, or I should say most, is parenting. So, I’m coming to beg for more of those questions. I’m dying to weigh in on discipline, faith, sibling rivalry, biting, schooling, sex ed, extra-curricular activities, vacation, babysitting, room sharing, etc. This is not to say don’t ask about RVing, homeschooling and food, but rather, ask those things AND ask me parenting questions. Don’t be shy.
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I’ve dedicated my entire life to raising my plethora of children (12, if you don’t know) and while this doesn’t make me an expert, by any stretch of the imagination, it does mean that I’ve probably encountered every issue, every joy, every worry, every judgment, every everything and I can tell you what I did that worked and what I did that didn’t. And while our lifestyles and focus in life may be cataclysmically different, we have the one thing in common that matters … we love our kids.
I write this as a lead-in to one of maybe 4 parenting questions in the 9+ years that I’ve been blogging and it’s about chores! I mean I am inundated by the open ended question, “How do you do it?”, but upon receiving the below question, and as I pondered my answer, I found I was honored and excited to respond. Sure I’ve written a book, I haven’t read it since the day I published it, so I truly don’t know if it’s relevant to my parenting today, but a book vs direct communication … it’s not the same. Many MANY of you readers feel like family, yes, even (especially) the haters, lol. And to those who read, but don’t comment or email, I would love to hear from you, even if it’s just a hey!
The Question: Chores
We were visiting with family last week and had a whole conversation about chores for kids. My husband’s aunt and I were talking and she said, “Uhm, I asked Lucy what kinds of chores she does around the house and she said, “None.” I immediately became defensive and looked at her. She was judging me. Of course my kids do chores, we just don’t call them chores, or jobs. There are many expectations in our home due to the number of kids I have (6) and I just don’t verbalize them as “chores”. We have experimented with chore charts, but in the end it simply didn’t work. My husband’s aunt told me I was raising entitled children. They don’t act entitled, they are well mannered, courteous, kind and grateful, but I’m curious, with 12 kids, how do you do handle chores? – Thanks Becky M.
Hey Becky! This is crazy because I just had the exact same experience with a friend. He had asked my youngest what chores he is responsible for and, of course, he said, “We don’t do chores.” When he asked me about it, I was like, dude, you don’t even know. Families with a lot of kids operate completely differently than those with only 2 or 3. I’m not even sure, with a large family if it’s possible to raise entitled kids. But operating under the assumption that it is, let’s examine my own household.
Like you, we tried the chore charts, too, but bailed. It’s not that they didn’t work, it’s just that I cannot micro-manage 12 people, it’s not who I am. But I do need a ton of help throughout every day. I need help teaching math … older kids assist. I need help picking up poop in the backyard, younger boys help. I need help cooking dinner, every interested body helps. I need help bringing the compost to the compost pile, my youngest helps. Unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up outside, making fires, digging ditches, landscaping for a hot tub,building bookshelves, putting up the Christmas tree, putting together the pool table, shoveling, gassing up my car, flipping our house, holding the baby, babysitting, helping with bathtime, running errands, sweeping, mopping, cleaning, organizing, bathrooms, raking, building walls, planting, watering plants, feeding the dog, washing the dog, painting, giving the animals their shots, setting up a mouse trap, checking the mouse trap, building a shed, laundry, repairing holes in the wall, electrical outlets, plumbing, chimney sweeping, chopping wood … literally the list goes on and on and on. And as they all grow, their skill sets build!
With big families, money is often tight and we don’t typically pay anyone to do anything. We do it, with our kids and then eventually they do it on their own. This is something that took me a long while to appreciate. I fought it for a long time, but as a result of my husband’s DIY nature, our kids are incredibly talented in a broad spectrum kinda way. And, if they encounter a task they haven’t had experience with, they can 100% figure it out! And you know what else I fought? The idea that my kids would be different because they grew up in a large family. But that’s for another blog.
It’s impossible to explain to someone unfamiliar with the dynamics of a large family how we function. And it’s unrealistic for us to think that others should see it. In large families, every adult and kid plays a crucial part, it’s a beautiful mini society, really, in which everyone works together to be productive and functioning. I’m sure your family is the same … it’s a fascinating chaos. And this issue of chores is not unlike many many other issues that will arise … you will find you do things, or label things, differently than nearly everyone else. Being different, going against the grain is the norm for big families.
Thanks for reaching out, Becky! Your kids sound great and like I said, I’d be willing to wager they do more “chores”, aka helping out, than most other kids. <3