I belong to a business group and often marvel at the similarities between the skills needed to run a business and those to run a household.
One such skill is delegating. In business, it means assigning tasks to employees, because one person cannot do everything it takes to run a company. It also encourages business skill development. In a household, it means assigning tasks to family members, including children, because one person cannot do everything it takes to run a household. It also means developing skills, the life skills kind.
Why is “None,” often the answer when I ask parents what household jobs their children have? And why is a common follow-up answer, “Going to school and doing homework are their jobs.”
I think I know where that opinion comes from. It comes from the applications and forms filled out by high schoolers and college students where the response to current employment is student.
But when it comes to the household, from preschoolers to live-in college students, the response should not be student to the question, “What is your child’s job?”
Here is my proof. If your child’s only job is really student, then by extension, your only job is whatever your career is (including childcare for stay-at-home parents). If your only job is your career then you shouldn’t have any household responsibilities either. Right?
Do you see my point?
Think of teaching household responsibilities as job training.
From the age of about 2, children can start learning that this is how life works, too.
There are many benefits to this lesson. It takes time, clear instructions, positive feedback, and patience, just like at a company. And just like at a company, when all the members of a family pitch in, good things happen.
The drawbacks come from not teaching it.
5 Drawbacks to Passing Up This Life Skills Apprenticeship:
Children without a household job believe everything is supposed to be done for them. They see themselves in the role of guest in the house, not member of the family.
Children without a household task often leave a trail of stuff wherever they go. They either expect someone else to clean up after them or they do not even realize that someone else has to do it.
Children, especially older children, who aren’t regularly expected to contribute, balk when asked to help out. They act as if they are doing parents a favor.
Children without a household gig, miss out on the opportunity to learn life skills. (That is why there is so much written about what self-help skills kids need before going off to college.
Parents whose children do not have household responsibilities miss out on the opportunity to use their family's human resources to share the load of household tasks. Using the family resources by including children is a win for everyone.
Next in the series How is Running a Company like Running a Household?
Executive Functioning, Part 1