Chores - the glue of a healthy family

August 26, 2011

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RE “HOW about a little help here’’ (g, Aug. 20): I remember the twinges of guilt I felt when my now-grown kids groused about doing chores as I sat reading a magazine. I’d been doing laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping throughout the day, and didn’t I have every right to take a break before getting supper underway? But sit while my kids folded laundry or emptied the dishwasher?

Happily, those twinges didn’t undermine my belief that it was important for the kids to take some responsibility for the running of the house and to learn how to do some of the inevitable chores of daily living. But I can still relate to the difficulty of making the case for chores. It got easier when I took a part-time job.

Yet whatever a family’s situation - both parents working or a stay-at-home parent - kids doing chores, including care of their own room and possessions, is essential to raising self-reliant, responsible, thoughtful children. And when they ask that troubling question that the Rhode Island psychologist noted - “Why should I?’’ - I wish I’d had this answer back in the day: “Because in our family we believe in helping each other.’’

It’s simple, it’s short, and it’s true. The first time or two that you give this answer, you may have to point out the myriad ways you parents help them, but after that, keep it to the essential point.

How can they argue with that?

Linda M. Clark