There are people who criticize (often with good intentions) the amount of assignment we give our children at home–they think that the children won’t have a happy childhood because they only work and don’t have time to play, and that I’m being irresponsible… Perico, my oldest child, has taken the initiative to write this post and present his point of view on this topic.
First of all, I’d like to make it clear that I have no trauma from my childhood due to my assignments, for having to make my bed every morning since childhood, for having to prepare bottles for my siblings or for having to fill the dishwasher on Mondays (although, I will admit that I never really liked the latter). In fact, I’m quite grateful to my parents for the responsibilities they gave me from early on.
In families, it’s important that each child has their set of assignments. One of the main reasons lies in the distribution of the tasks in order to help the parents, because of course there are times when the parents can’t do everything.
Parents put all of their love and care into raising their children and organizing the house and love it when the children also take responsibility for making this happen. Parents never cease to demonstrate their love for the family through their sacrifice, and it’s important to share that ideal with all the members of the family.
Organization is one of the fundamental points that allows a family to move forward. For this reason, some assignments have to be distributed. Assignments can also help the children to grow in virtue and diligence, but the primary motivation is to involve the children in the family.
The parents play a fundamental role in as the example of this mentality of sacrifice: they must be the first to surrender their will and sacrifice for the family. By doing this, the children will see that the parents are also exhausted, that the parents might also prefer sometimes to think about themselves, but instead they push forward in service of the family.
Normally, the first thing a child might think about is playing. However, by showing the children (not just through words, but also by actions) that sometimes the parents stop doing things they enjoy in order to help, it’s possible to teach them in a different way. To be clear, it’s not that the children don’t have an opportunity to play (I played every afternoon with my siblings), but that they learn to do both.
I think it’s good that we took part in these assignments from early on. The kids are able to adapt according to their age, of course: when we were really young we started by making the bed and maybe folding clothes. As we got older we were given other assignments: open the door for guests, pick up the phone when it rang, to go and buy bread for the family (it’s a lot of bread!), to organize the living room, and to prepare and clean off the table once day a week…
And now that we are on Summer break we have a lot more time and help even more at home: some sweep the rooms, others mop, some clean the bathrooms, others wash the clothes, and always someone is responsible for cooking!
In this way, we learn to think of others and not only ourselves, it becomes internalized in the children that the family is made up of everyone.