Responsibility, contribution and connection

“What if, instead of being behind, these kids are ahead?

What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read and express themselves in writing?

What if our kids are the ones to learn to cook, organise their space, do their laundry and help keep a well run home?

What if they learn to plan shopping trips and make meals at home?

What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good in sharing the small delights of every day?” (from a COVID related viral post - Jaime Ragsdale)

As I have indicated previously, research has demonstrated that the early years are critical for the development of character. They can set boys up to thrive, to love life, to deal with challenges and to contribute meaningfully to the lives of others.

I can recall Michael-Carr Gregg saying (in a seminar I attended) that as parents we should never do things for our children that they can do for themselves.

As your children get older, their contributions need to increase appropriately, both within and outside the household. Children need to own two kinds of responsibilities:

    …….. their own self-care, and

    …….. contributing to family welfare. 

While there are many ways parents can nurture responsibility in their children, Steve Biddulph proposes that one way is to make them feel useful and to experience their capabilities.

“Something remarkable happens in families where boys are given this chance to be useful in cooking. If a boy gets hold of the joy of being useful, it will affect his values for life.” 

Research also indicates that children who help around the house are also more likely to offer help in other situations than children who simply participate in their own self-care. Perhaps invite toddlers to put napkins on the table, three year olds to set places. Four year olds can match socks, and five year olds can help you groom the dog. Six year olds are ready to clear the table, seven year olds to water plants, and eight year olds to fold laundry. Again, notice that you're inviting and empowering your child, not making them feel guilty or burdening them.

"Skills of ironing, vacuuming and preparing food should be learnt during the formative younger years, lest serious learning disabilities like ‘kitchen blindness’ or ‘dyslaundria’ begin to develop." (Steve Biddulph)

Abigail Norfleet James suggests ….. “children need to feel that they are part of the family, and having chores helps that attachment. Parents who require this kind of involvement know that it takes time to learn to be responsible and that the responsible person is happy”.

What an opportunity we have during this time of online learning to establish such routines, if they are not yet in place, and to develop responsibility and character!

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”  Philippians 2:4-5 

Peter Grimes | Headmaster 


Raising Boys in the 21st Century p116 - Steve Biddulph - renowned psychologist, author and educator of parents.

Aha! Parenting - Dr Laura Markham trained as a Clinical Psychologist at Columbia University.

The Parents Guide to Boys p98 - Abigail Norfleet James - World-renowned educator, speaker, and thought leader on teaching children well.