‘Chores’ no more

By Laura K. Silver

This week, I decided to make my kids a chart so that they could keep track of what is expected of them each morning, after school, and evening. The expectations are not new to them, but they were having trouble keeping track of everything so my husband and I thought that a chart would be helpful.

As I went to look for one on the internet, I was struck by how many of them used the term “chore.” To me, a chore is a burden and has a negative connotation. I wondered if I was alone in this, but as I consulted the online dictionary, I found that I wasn’t.

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I didn’t want to put the word “chore” on my chart for them. To me, there’s a big difference. I’m not trying to raise Cinderella–I’m trying to raise children with a sense of responsibility. When I looked up “responsibility” instead, I found that the definition in Mirriam-Webster included the phrase “mental accountability.” That’s exactly what I wanted. I want them to own it, not me.

I see parenthood as a shift of mental accountability from me to them, and I believe that kids rise to the occasion if they are given ownership of their tasks. I’ve found that raising kids is a lot about taking things off of my own mental accountability list and putting it on theirs. In my house, if the kids are able to do something, it becomes their responsibility rather than mine.

I wound up creating my own chart because I couldn’t find any that looked right for us. It’s entitled “Responsibility Chart” and when I gave it to them, they were excited to use it and have taken pride in checking off each item daily.

I imagine that I wouldn’t have received quite the same reception had it said “List of Chores” instead.