Teenagers and Chores: If your kids don't work, you're robbing growth opportunities from them.

Teenagers should do chores!

Putting teenagers and chores in the same sentence doesn’t sound like a revolutionary thing, but in many families you would think that it was. Too few kids help out around the house–and too few even know how to! Today Joanne Kraft, author of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids, issues a call to arms for all parents: let’s equip our kids–and that means requiring some work out of them!

Here’s Joanne:

What does the average week look like in your home? Do you make all the meals, do the laundry, clean the house with little help from your teenager? If this sounds like you, you might just be robbing your teenager.

The definition for the penal code of robbery is: To take something by force or fear. When we steal hardworking opportunities from our kids because {force} we can do it better or we’re {fear} afraid they can’t handle it, we rob from them.

I worked for years as a 911 dispatcher and I received more calls from parents of teenagers robbing from their kids than I care to recount. They spent their parenting years doing everything in their power to make their child’s life fairy-tale perfect and problem free. They now had teenagers who were disrespectful, lazy, and borderline narcissistic– Because they were allowed to be.

When the world revolves around your kid--they'll act like it!

When I do for my teenager what he can do for himself I allow my teen to stay a child. Here’s the good news: there’s a magic remedy for their success and it’s called good old fashioned hard work.

How to Grow Your Teen Into a Hardworking Adult:

  • Don’t pay for a cell phone. A smartphone isn’t a need, it’s a want. Put that money towards their college savings, instead. Or, better yet, let them get a job and pay for a cell phone themselves.
  • Turn off the TV/Video Games/iPads. Entertainment only after responsibilities. Is homework done? Is the house a mess? If it is, hand them a broom. They’re a part of the family. A family is a team. There’s no reason they can’t get in the game and do a big chunk of the chores.
  • Schoolwork isn’t a forever excuse. I can’t say, “I have a 40hr a week job, so I can’t be a mom this afternoon.” Begin training your teens now because life won’t care if they’re in graduate school or married. They need to be able to work hard no matter what is going on around them.
  • Driving isn’t a right it’s a privilege. Just because a teenager is old enough to drive the family car doesn’t mean they get dibs on it. Let them get a job and start saving for one. Our daughter, Grace, has been saving for a car since she was 13. She’s now 16 and almost all her babysitting money has gone into her future car account. She now has over $2500.00. She is just tickled she’s been able to do this. I could buy her a car but I won’t. Why rob her of this joy? She will appreciate her future first car so much more.

A few weeks ago, one of my girlfriends’ sent her seventeen year old son to stay with our family for a week. We had a blast. We showed him all around Nashville and took him out for BBQ. We treated him to dinner and a Civil War tour. Each morning after breakfast I gathered my two teenagers and wrote down a list of house chores and tore off a piece of the list for each…Nathaniel, too.

Teenagers and Chores and Part-Time Jobs

“You’re a part of the family this week, Nathaniel, so here you go.” I smiled and handed him his own chore list. I cranked up some tunes and the kids and I got to work. They had the lion’s share of chores but still laughed and sang along to the music while they swept, vacuumed, cleaned dishes and dusted. I told them, “Give me an hour of your time and I’ll give you the rest of the day.” Nathaniel still wants to come back and stay with us again.

Scripture one mom hangs in her kitchen: If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Give your teenager a job. Allow him or her to feel good about themselves. Too often, I hear mom’s say, “If he gets a job I’m the one who will have to take him to work.” Let him get a job that’s a bike ride away! Or, drive him to work for a little while. Weren’t you the one who drove him to baseball or football practice three times a week? So, why are you holding back from helping him get to work now? Other moms say, “She will have all her life to work. I want her to enjoy her school break or summer off.” I like to answer this with my own question: Why hold your teenager back from adult success?

A study released last year by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program said finding a job when you’re older is harder if you haven’t worked during your teenage years.

In addition, “research shows those who work in high school have wages 10 to 15 percent higher when they graduate from college,” said Ishwar Khatiwada, a co-author of the study and an associate director of research at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.

As a mom, each time I steal a hard work opportunity to grow my child into an adult I rob character-building moments.

Parents agree that their ultimate goal is to raise independent, hardworking, God honoring adults, yet still we continue to rob opportunities from our teens to grow them into these types of adults.

Don't rob your teen of opportunities to grow!

Mom, stop robbing from your teenager.

Stop making excuses for doing things they can do. It’s not mean to make your teenager do chores. It’s not mean to stop paying for his wants and to say no to designer jeans or video games and smartphones. It’s not mean to make her do her own laundry, or to put her to work around the house before she spends the day with friends or plops in front of the TV…it’s not mean at all.

Have you been robbing your teen? What do you think about teenagers and chores? Let us know in the comments–and tell us about your own experiences working when you were a teen, too!

joannekraftJoanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her recent bookThe Mean Mom's Guide to Raising Great Kids_medium_image_attachmentThe Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s a favorite speaker at women’s conferences and has been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN.

Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.

Download your FREE Mean Mom Bill of Rights at JoanneKraft.com.

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