Saturday Thoughts...Teaching Kids to be self-sufficient

 Last week, one of the men at our walker’s coffeetime commented that his older sister’s new apartment was “neat as a pin”.  One of the other ladies and I both thought…right, she doesn’t have any kids or cats or dogs or a husband to clean up after like his wife does.  
But both of us had also expected our kids to help around the house when they were at home.  Our son and I used to watch old reruns of Gene Autry Melody Ranch TV shows on public television on Saturdays when we cleaned house together. And my husband avoids making a mess, and helps with cleaning and cooking too.
Today as I was cleaning our home, and was dusting baseboards, I thought about the fact that this was one of the first “chores” I was given as a child; on the theory that a child is “closer to the floor” already, and, I suspect, if the kid missed a spot most visitors wouldn’t notice.  I progressed to scrubbing closet floors and polishing the family shoes before Sunday, (carefully inspected by one of my parents; redoing might be required).  As we grew up, we learned how to meet non-negotiable housekeeping standards, learned to cook, bake and clean up, learned how to do laundry, hang up clothes on the line even in the winter, how to iron correctly, how to sew and do needlework, how to garden and can the results of our efforts, how to fish, clean fish, cook fish…in other words how to be self-sufficient.
Our dad was an equal opportunity trainer…he had been a military cook so he could help us there, he taught us to help in their carpenter shop, employed us in the summers to tape sheet rock and do clean up on their job sites, how to mow the lawn, change tires for ourselves and so on.  He thought girls should know the same things boys did.
Back then, parents felt that they had the responsibility to train their children for adulthood, and if we were housed, clothed and fed, we should contribute to the well-being of the family.  Obviously, television and video games didn’t distract us from our chores. You never whined about nothing to do…you would have a job immediately!
Today, our son and grandson were rewiring our grandson’s garage together…our son commented that he wasn’t just doing the work, he was trying to teach his son how to do it safely and correctly by himself.  I’m proud of them still being self-sufficient today!  You can tell we live in the rural heartland of America.


  1. That's how my husband learned to do all the things he can do. Tractor, farming, electrical, plumbing and building. He can repair most anything mechanical too.

  2. Such wonderful, old-time values to instill in children! Neither my husband nor I grew up in a household where we were taught these "basics" but because of the lifestyle we've chosen we more or less taught ourselves how to do what had to be done. (With lots of mistakes!) Our daughter was taught and learned along the way and in her adulthood isn't hesitant to tackle anything which makes us very proud.

  3. Our kids help clean (they are responsible for bathroom cleaning), they take out the garbage, & water the plants. One makes dinner one night per week. It's not a ton, but I'm happy they take responsibility & understand the balance of chores vs having fun. Our 15 year old is responsible for keeping the solar panels clean, which is a filthy job. Our roof is pretty flat, so it's a safe task for him, and one I definitely don't want! ;-)

  4. New Englander here. As we homeschooled, my kids had the opportunity to learn to do every chore around the house. Now as young adults, they all (2 boys, 1 girl) can cook, clean, garden, do basic carpentry, care for their cars and care for animals.

    1. I expect you don't have to worry about them being successful in adulthood...worth the effort!


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