The Value and Benefits of Cleaning

Question

We have two boys, 9 and 12, and we’ve had a hard time getting them to pitch in and help with basic household tasks.  How can we encourage our boys to see the value and benefits of actively contributing to our family life?

Answer

The crucible of family relationships is one of the main places God helps us learn how to move from the selfishness that was a result of original sin to the selfless servant heart that characterizes the heart of our Lord and is a manifestation of our “becoming conformed the image of His son” (Romans 8:29a).

In Proverbs 10:4 we read that, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”  In Gal 5:13 we’re told to “serve one another through love.”  In Gal 6:2 we exhorted to “Carry one another’s burdens” and in I John 3:18 we’re taught that “we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”

One of the best times and places to teach children how to love and care and be a servant is in their own home.  But it can be easier said than done.  One of the best places to start is to both parents to model it.

Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have shown the tremendous imbalance in the amount of time and emotional energy women invest in doing basic household tasks in comparison to the husbands.  This is not how it should be in a Christ-centered home.

That’s why it’s especially important for us dad’s to be proactive in this process.  You will teach your sons how to nurture and care by modeling that for them.  We teach them how to listen by how we listen  . . . how to love by how we love . . . how to serve by how we serve . . . and the list goes on.

Have a “Family Meeting” and make a list of the tasks that need to be taken care of for the family to function, and then figure out what contributions each person can make.  No service is too small.  I have a friend whose son is too young to do his own laundry, but she has him push his laundry basket to the laundry room which is a lot of work since it is twice his size

Don’t just give your boys the stereotypic “male” tasks like mowing lawns and washing cars.  Show them that no task is to mundane, routine for any man or woman if it contributes to the quality of family life.

Share in all of the work that is necessary to be a family, including doing dishes, dusting, vacuuming and folding laundry.  Teaching them how to contribute to the family in a meaningful way will increase their respect and appreciation for themselves, for the family and for each other.

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