Increasing Responsibilities

Blog | Raising Arrows 1 1 Comment
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[We’ve been writing and sharing a lot lately about raising our children into adulthood.  This post is part of that series. You can find all those posts here: Young Adults.]

Have you noticed the lengthening of childhood years?  The seemingly acceptable putting off of responsibilities?  Here in the United States children can stay on their parent’s health insurance until they are 26!  This is no joke!  What happened to being an adult at 18?

Soap Box Alert

What is going on in this culture of putting off responsibilities?  We are not doing a service to our children by trying to keep them young longer!  Quite the opposite.  If we expect our children to grow up and be contributing members of society then we had better get on the ball and teach them some life skills!

Let’s consider the bar and bat-mitzvahs in Hebrew tradition.  A boy of 13 or a girl of 12, having gone through the coming-of-age ceremony, is considered morally and ethically responsible for their own decisions.  13 and 12!!!!!  They’re not messing around.  And yet, as a general statement, Americans are running away from the notion of teaching children how to become adults!

Even if you are a family who believes in raising responsible children, isn’t it hard to stay the course when most families around you are not doing the same?  I think so.  I find it discouraging to be around families where mom and dad are completely overworked and the kids feel entitled to do nothing.  Where if you ask the child to do something you would think the world had ended and you had asked them to move a mountain.  What are parents to do?

First of all, behaviors do not change over night.  They don’t.  If you have allowed your kids to do nothing up to this point, it is going to take awhile to retrain them.  But it is so worth it!  Start small and gradually you will have children who are responsible and capable.

When children are young they are so eager to help.  Let them help you!  I can guarantee they won’t do it exactly like you, but applaud their efforts and encourage them to keep trying.  When my daughter was only two she had the best time helping me cook!  And yes, there have been some epic messes to clean up, but that’s learning, too.  Don’t get angry when messes happen, just take it as another opportunity to teach.

Anna Cooking Collage

As children get older they can pick up for themselves.  Moms and dads do such an injustice by picking up after their children all the time.  The easiest way to keep kids engaged in putting things away, is to have the rule of one thing out at a time.  This often is difficult for children and a journey of learning patience for parents, but stay the course!  It is possible to train your children to pick things up!

As children get older give them more responsibility.  Here are some ideas.  (As a reference point, my daughters are 13 & 11 and they do all of these.  Please don’t tell me boys are different!  Boys are just as capable as girls and they need training as much as anyone!  Do you seriously want to raise boys who think their wives should do all the work?  I think not.)

  • Make their own lunches.
  • Make a meal for the family.
  • Do the dishes.  (Wash, dry, and put away.)
  • Do laundry.
  • Make beds, including changing the sheets.
  • Help with meal planning.
  • Prepare the grocery list.
  • Take care of animals.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Mow the yard.
  • Take the trash out.
  • Clean the house.  (I actually pay my daughters to deep clean the house for me once per month.)
  • Help school younger siblings.
  • Babysit younger siblings.
  • Get themselves up for school.
  • Make money by learning to be entrepreneurs.

The list is endless and it’s down right amazing what kids can do!  And for the record, I’m not suggesting children have no time to be children.  They should get plenty of time to play hard and laugh loud.  Just don’t short-change your children by refusing to give them responsibilities.  It will only hurt them as adults.


  1. Daja this is such a great word to share!  Thank you!

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