Thursday, 23 June 2011

Chores and Underlings: What Works


Surrender works so well in so many areas of parenting (and life) –it is when we stop struggling with reality that we find ease and peace.

One note for clarification: surrender is not sacrifice. Sacrifice is for martyrs, not people who seek happiness, effectiveness, joy, peace, connection or love. Martyrs may get admiration . . . maybe. But what they will get is resentment, avoidance, criticism (which is ironic, because they seek to avoid it) and derision.

Regarding chores, there are several aspects of surrender necessary to create a peaceful and healthy home:

Surrender to the reality of time constraints

You can do it all, just not all at once. Priorities need to be evaluated so you’re not wasting your life –or trying to waste anyone else’s—on things you don’t genuinely value

Surrender to the necessity of the task

Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water
After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water

There will be no time in your life when feeding and cleaning does not need to be done, however much modern conveniences ease the work. Accept that it must be done, without end.

Surrender to the real equality

All people need feeding and cleaning: of all the base, common and menial drudgery, none can be less exalted than ‘voiding bladder and bowel.’ We all get to do that with part of our days – 5 cent/hour garbage pickers in Brazil and $30,000/minute superstar athletes, and everyone in between. You can value this real aspect of life or revile it, but no one else is far enough beneath you to have to do it for you.

It is deeply disrespectful of humans to hold the opinion that the work is beneath you but not them.

Surrender to the power of mindless repetition –and hard work

All the effort spent (and technology invented) just to avoid the peace and ease of simple, repetitive work…

The dedication modern folk give to avoiding some of the easiest and most instantly-gratifying work available is amazing. A cleaned plate is clean: visibly, obviously and it is ‘finished.’ So much work is never done, has no clear product or is so complex and involves so many people that our part in it is (or feels) both invisible and impersonal. A clean plate is clean. A planted garden is planted. A cooked meal is completed.

Surrender to the fleeting nature of life

Yes, the meal will be eaten and the plate will once again need cleaning, but such is the nature of life. What is it that, once done, need never be redone or will never be undone? A singer walks off the stage and the song has ended. It can be re-sung, of course, but that performance is over. Even a recording of the thing is not the thing –it was live with a live audience and now it is a recording of both. Why is that less distressing than the laundry that needs re-washing?

Find the joys in doing, not in only having done. Life is a process, not a product.

Surrender to the chaos

Unless you seek to live alone forever, chaos will always be your roommate. Other people are ‘other’ –they see things differently, they react because they have a different perspective. The desire to live in peaceful harmony forever precludes living with other humans at any age.

Even if you did not understand the deal you were signing up for, the decision to have children comes with the built-in guarantee of a life filled with chaos. Will you fight it like it’s an unwanted intruder, or accept it as the inevitability it is, like static or dust?

Surrender, finally, to your own personal preferences

Do what you will, as you will.

It is only within this freedom and self-respect that you can find worth in your work –and free others to see the worth in the work you do, and perhaps even find value in doing it themselves.

The secret of children happily cooperating in their own homes is an atmosphere of joy, worthiness and respect which cannot be found in an atmosphere of dictatorial superiority.

A parent who finds himself sneering at the idea of washing a floor cannot be surprised by a child’s distaste for the task. Equally, a man happily engaged in nurturing his family through meal preparations may well find cooperative bodies eager to share the room and help.

Joy, enthusiasm and a sense of an important job well done are all attractive, and contagious. When you feel resistance from your kids, check to see how you really feel about the work. . . and if you believe it is necessary to do at all.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Debate: Kids and Chores–Part 3

A whole family

Be it resolved that the truth of kids doing chores is: ‘we all need to work as a family.’

How do you know that’s true?
--it’s self-evident: it’s our home and we need to work together for it to be peaceful and healthy

A bit of a circle of logic, there, but how ‘healthy’ is it to put kids in a position of opposition to the people they need to live? How peaceful is it to order people around? How peaceful do you find resistance and rebellion?
--we’re all equal in our home

Y’are not. Who selects which chores are really on the list? Who has veto?
--well, someone has to lead!

Doubtless. Does it always get to be the same person?

‘Leadership’ engages voluntary cooperation. Dictatorship engages ‘doesn’t matter how you feel about it’ obedience (and resistance and rebellion.) What do you do when they choose not to participate?

Perhaps more importantly, what are they allowed to do when you choose not to participate?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Debate: Kids and Chores–Part 2

I need a break…

Be it resolved that the truth of kids doing chores is ‘mom/dad needs a break.’

How do you know that’s true?
--I/we work hard

Good. Hard work is good for people, especially their mental health.

What’s mom/dad ‘needing a break’ got to do with kids?
--they can help, so they should

Sorry, that’s a syllogism: you can, too, so you should do it.
--there aren’t enough hours in the day, they have to pitch in

There are 24 hours in every day which you can spend any way you choose. Your time should be spent on your priorities: if it’s important to you, do it. If it is less important to you… why should anyone else do it?
--my skills and talents are far superior to the work, someone whose time is less valuable should do menial work

Therefore, let’s not be coy: a child’s time is less valuable to you than yours is, so they can do the less valuable tasks to free you up to do the more meaningful and valuable and rewarding tasks with your much more worthwhile life, yes?

Could you demonstrate how your time is more valuable to your children than their time is to them? Or perhaps argue simply that your life is more valuable than theirs, and with it you are entitled to leisure time that they are not?
--well, I pay them for chores, so I clearly value them

Do you pay them what their time is worth to them or what your time is worth to you? Or a couple of bucks? Or a quarter?

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Debate: Kids and Chores --Part 1

They need to learn it…

Be it resolved that the truth of kids doing chores is ‘they need to learn how.’

How do you know that’s true?
-- because all adults need to know

Okay, without referring to all the adults who hire out that work to pros, let’s pretend that’s true: how long would it take an adult to learn to sweep a floor or wash a toilet? Ten minutes? Fifteen if they had to add a lecture on cleaning supplies and tools?

How long do you think the training is for a professional maid to be completely qualified? A week? Three days? Half a day? How is this an argument for eight-year-olds doing the same task even once a month?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Chores & Underlings: Attitude

Question 1. How can I improve my kids’ attitudes toward helping out at home?
Answer 1. Check your attitude. The odds are excellent that your kids are mirroring, venting or just showing you yours.
Question 1.a. My attitude is excellent: I know it needs to be done, I know it’s ‘work now, play later.’ I know it’s important to get things done.
Answer 1.a. I’m not hearing ‘I enjoy and value this work while I’m doing it –I plan it and look forward to it.’
Question 1.b. What kind of nutcase feels that way about cleaning toilets?
Answer 1.b. You’d be amazed –but it’s the attitude you want someone to tell you how to install in your kids. If you can’t find it within reality, how on earth can they?

Chores & Underlings: Drudgery

Question 1. I really need kids to pitch in (write in reason of choice: single parent, busy schedule, ailing parents, demanding job, kids waste time, they have to, it’s their turn…)
Answer 1. Uh-hunh. How much of what you do in a day is optional? TV, computer time, re-organizing organized things, cleaning clean things, pampering, socializing…
Question 1.a. I deserve a break.
Answer 1.a. From what?
Question 1.b. From all the drudgery and hard, menial work I do for them –laundry, cleaning, tidying, picking up after them, shopping, cooking…
Answer 1.b. So, because you’re you and the work you do is beneath you, you’re entitled to free labour from ‘not really people’ because that’s what you had kids for: slaves?
Question 1.c. No, no, no! Not at all!! They need to learn to do it and I need a break.
Answer 1.c. Popular answers, but failing to address the issue: the work is beneath you, not them?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Chores & Underlings: Obedience

Question 1. How can I make my child listen?
Answer 1. You mean 'obey.'
Question 1.a. No, no, no, not at all.
Answer 1.a. Oh, yes, you do. You just shy from the word 'obey.' You still mean 'how can I make my kid do what I want my kid to do?
Question 1.b. Well, okay... maybe. But how?
Answer 1.b.  Go back to the beginning and order a child with the Voice Command Software pre-installed. Sorry, it is not available aftermarket. There is no app for that.

Question 2. 

Why do my kids do what the teacher (scout leader, neighbours, etc.) tell them to do and it never works for me?
Answer 2. Because your kid trusts you. You can destroy that, if obedience is more important...
Question 2.a. No, no, I don't want obedience, I just want them to _______________[fill in blank]
Answer 2.a. Yes: you want them to obey orders.