Why your spawn should be cleaning up after itself as soon as it is able to walk. 

Way back in the day, before I entered dinosaur-dom, I remember hearing peers and certain family members make mention of the fact that they didn’t have to clean their room (or anything else in the house for that matter) because their mother did it for them.

Keep in mind that the general tenor for families back then was that both parents worked. That’s right: not only did mom have to have a part time job, but she was still in charge of making sure that the homestead didn’t go to pot.

I knew then, as I know now, that that is an incredible load of bullshit. No kid, anywhere on the face of the earth, should be exempt from cleaning up after themselves and pulling their own weight around the house. The only thing that a parent accomplishes when they absolve their child from cleaning or any other household duty/responsibility is the creation of an entitled shit who expects things to be handed to them and will most likely live a large portion of their life in this state.

I’m not advocating whip-cracking. I’m not saying that your children’s lives should play out like the first act of Cinderella. Or that your children should identify with the drama Roots.

What I’m getting at is that you, as a parent, are solely responsible for making sure that your child is armed with the knowledge that they can, and should help out around the house. 

Want to make it easy on yourself? Start them off young. 

For my kids it started off with simple things: putting away toys and picking up around the house. Eventually they graduated to dusting and wiping stuff down. Vacuuming eventually came to all of them despite the fact that we lost a lamp or two during the learning process.

By the time that they were 8, they were doing their own laundry. Yes, 8. They loved it.

This might make you pucker at the thought of having Little Johnny or Susie Shitpants do their own laundry. It shouldn’t: If you are with them every step of the way and you are teaching them correctly, your child ought to be able to do their own laundry. Look at it this way: if they’re doing it right, it’s one less thing you have to  worry about.

For the record, I started them on their laundry when they were 8 because they were at a decent height in order to get clothes from the bottom of washer and into the dryer.

Since my family and I have relocated to Florida, I have taken to using a chore board. It doesn’t waste paper and it establishes culpability (e.g. they can’t “loose” something stuck to the fucking wall). 



It’s nothing fancy. Just a cheap picture frame I picked up from the local department store.
Also for the record, I typically stick with one chore. As barometers I use the collective behavior of the group and what may be going on during the week. Summer time is a little different since they have “so much time” on their hands.

In sum, keep in mind that raising a child is a process. When it comes to showing them a new skill or teaching them the proper way to clean ‘a thing’, it will take some time for them to get it as right as you want them to get it. They are also going to cut corners. Kids are sneaky as fuck.

Also please do the world a favor: make sure you are creating an individual who will contribute to society, not drag it back to the stoneage.

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Accidents happen.

As a parent you should not be operating under the illusion that your children are perfect little angels who are whip smart and have nothing but respect for you. 

‘Smarts’ and ‘respect’ are both learned intangibles. Your children are people. More importantly they are people that you brought into the world and whom you are solely responsible for. If they are lacking in anything, there is the slim chance that it is the result of a genetic deficiency. Short of that, who they are and how they behave are the direct result of your own interaction with them. 

With that said, as a parent you should also be operating under the idea that some days are just going to go tits up. 

It might happen at the end of the day. It might be a slow burn throughout the whole day that results in you reenacting the ‘bathtub scene’ from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. It might even happen before you get out of bed. 

A week ago, I was coming home from dropping off the oldest child at her gymnastics class. As I was turning onto my street I received this Skype message from my son: 

  

That’s no exaggeration
: I was turning onto the street when I got the message. 

For the record, my son is 9 years old. His little sister is 6. In the event that someone somewhere reading this should get their panties in a bunch given their young age, here’s a few facts for you

  1. We live on government property. What that means is that our neighborhood is beyond safe. 
  2. My children are the epitome of responsibility within their respective age groups. While that may be a bit presumptious, it is a fact. I know it’s a fact because my wife and I have been imbuing them with responsibility since they could demonstrate critical thinking. 
  3. Children are never ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to learn the values of responsibility. 

FYI the ‘red stretchy thing’ he was referring to was an exercise band that someone left out and did not put away. Also, the tv wasn’t an old ‘tube’ television with the rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil that only works if your little sister with the braces is in the room touching it. It was the family television, a 38″ Vizio. 

Of course, I was a bit peeved. Firstly, I wasn’t gone that long. 25 minutes tops. Secondly, I’m a notorious tight wad. While my family is by no means ‘poor’ we certainly aren’t wiping our asses with dollar bills. Televisions aren’t cheap. 

I get out of the car and enter my home not knowing how bad the damage was. My son immediately began to inform me about the message he sent me. I cut him off mid-sentence with “I ALL READY KNOW” and I survey the damage. 

  
I was hopeful. “That doesn’t look so bad,” I thought. Then I turned the TV on. 

I’m not going to show you what it looks like turned on. It still works, the screen is just fucked and essentially beyond repair. 

It was an accident. I knew that before I walked in the house. I knew that before I surveyed the damage. I tallied the collective ‘accident report’ of all 3 of my kids immediately after reading my son’s message. I could still count the previous accidents on one hand. 

Sometimes, stupid things happen regardless of your age. 

Them not being able to watch their favorite shows, or play Minecraft, would not have driven the lesson home. There’s a time and a place for horse-play. Specifically and preferrably when they are not latch-keyed.  

After my blood pressure normalized, I made sure that they were fully aware of the ramifications of what they had done. They knew how much the television was, how long it took their mother to  work for the money to buy the television, and how their little faux pas was disrespectful to their mother (e.g. If they consciously knew all of that before they picked up the exercise band, it wouldn’t have happened). 

Accident or not, they still got grounded. As the saying goes, the punishment needed to fit the crime. I gave them reasonable parameters for the grounding and told them that they would get ungrounded if they stuck to the parameters and illustrated that they learned their lesson. 

My son was ungrounded after 2 days. The youngest took a week (which is understandable because she’s only 6). Since then they have been on the straight and narrow. 

Have a lesson-filled horror story? Sally forth in the comments, please!