NORMAN — Q: Our children are in elementary school, and we feel it is time for them to start taking some responsibilities around the house. When we were their ages, one of us had chores and the other did not. What do you think is an appropriate age to start chores, and can you give some ideas as to what chores would be age-level appropriate?
— Ben and Stacey
Dear Ben and Stacey,
We absolutely think elementary-aged children should start taking responsibilities around the house. You need to remember that in the beginning, these chores aren’t going to be completed perfectly, but after a few attempts, they’ll get the hang of it.
Even very young children are able to put their toys away, put dirty clothes in a hamper and put clean clothes in a drawer.
By the time children are in elementary school, they should be able to help with chores such as emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, folding clothes, dusting furniture and caring for animals.
By middle/junior high, kids should be doing their own laundry, getting themselves up and ready for school, fed and out the door on time. They should also be able to vacuum, help with lawn care, help to prepare meals and take out the trash.
By the time students are in high school, they should be preparing to live outside of our homes, which means being pretty much self-sufficient. Once they are driving age, they should be taught about minor maintenance issues such as filling a gas tank, airing up the tires and knowing when the oil needs to be changed.
We feel it is a disservice to our children if they aren’t ready for the real world, whether attending college or simply living on their own. Being able to take care of one’s self instills a sense of pride, accomplishment and self-confidence.
Q: I’m a single parent and am working long hours to help make ends meet. I have two teenagers and, quite honestly, when they come in on the weekends, I’m too exhausted to wait up for their return. I happened to be up on one occasion recently and thought I smelled cigarette smoke on my son’s clothing. What’s the best way to handle this?
If you haven’t read “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Jim Faye and Foster Cline, go buy it today. Something we learned from them that was extremely helpful when raising teenagers is to start a new house rule that requires them to not only awaken you immediately upon their arrival home but to also give you a hug.
If you notice a large quantity of freshly applied cologne/perfume, fresh gum or the obvious aromas of cigarettes, marijuana or alcohol, definite action needs to be taken.
If you find this is the case, there are several agencies that can help. One in particular is Parents Helping Parents. The website is php.com, and the local phone number is 278-1221. This is an excellent resource when you have suspicions and don’t really know what to do about them.
Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district.