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Children and Household Chores - I

Wednesday 02-02-2011

During a holiday: "Ahmad, you can clean the dining room." "Faatimah, you can clear up the kitchen." "Mahmood, you can clean the living room." "Mu’...

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During a holiday:

"Ahmad, you can clean the dining room."
"Faatimah, you can clear up the kitchen."
"Mahmood, you can clean the living room."
"Mu’min, you do the bathroom."
Children: "Mother! This is a holiday. We want to play with our friends."
Mother: "Don't go out to play until you have cleaned the house."
Ahmad: "But the dining room is big."
Mother: "I asked you to do it because you are the eldest."
Fatimah: "The kitchen is difficult."  
Mahmood: "The living room is boring."
Children: "We hate these chores!"
Mother: "There is no way you will play until you are done with these chores."
Mother leaves the children feeling angry, as she has spoiled their holiday and they have lost half the day cleaning the house.
Parents and household chores:
When the family grows bigger with the addition of more children, the household duties increase correspondingly. Mothers would be burdened beyond their capacity if they undertake all the duties on their own. Therefore, many parents assign these duties to their children, especially in the families which cannot afford to hire a servant. Rich families can easily hire a servant to do such duties. However, families that bring servants to their homes lose a great deal, because they make their children dependant and do not bring them up to bear responsibility, by assigning all the tasks to the servant. Hence, members of the family lack cooperation and the feeling that each of them is responsible for the household and for each little thing that needs to be picked up from the floor.
The question is: Should parents make their children do household chores?
Encouraging children to participate in carrying out household chores plays a great role in forming their character. Their participation also contributes to teaching them how to bear responsibility. It fosters close family bonds among family members and makes the children accustomed to helping their parents and being dutiful to them. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to serve his family. When he was young, in the home of his uncle Abu Taalib, he would help with the household chores. He would contribute provisions to maintain that poor home, since his uncle, Abu Taalib, had limited financial resources. Therefore, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, worked as a shepherd to help his uncle, even though he was his uncle’s guest, so that he would not be dependent on anyone. The right attitude is that children should help with the household chores. They may also work for their homes in the summer and on holidays, in order to contribute with their own hands in building their home, and this is especially so for the boys. This should not be a source of shame, because the real shame is to be idle and having nothing to do.
Teach responsibility to your children:
According to Michele Borba in his book Responsibility and Trustworthiness, responsibility is one of the most important and strongly desired personal characteristics, which means to be trustworthy, dependable and to bear the consequences of your actions. Once you acquire this attribute, it enhances other features of your character such as respect, cooperation and concern. Responsibility is the backbone of friendship and self-reliance, and the collapse of this attribute in young people motivates us to do everything that we can do to rebuild it in pupils.
As a parent, you might ask, “When should I teach responsibility to my child?” The answer is there is no certain age when children start learning responsibility. Parents and teachers should encourage their children to bear responsibility in any place and at any time they show the readiness to do this. A smile or a word of encouragement from the mother to her child when he raises his arm to be able to put on his shirt easily can be the first lesson to give to the child in cooperation or bearing responsibility.
Hence, the first way to the child's participation in household chores is to teach him responsibility and to bring him up to observe it. Through responsibility, the child will not only cooperate and help with the household chores, but he will also learn to take the initiative and be in charge of things, because he deserves to be confident.
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, and teaching responsibility:
If we browse through parenting books and reflect on the words of those responsible for the upbringing process, we will find that they all believe that developing a sense of responsibility in the children should be the goal sought by upbringing, and teaching them in the different experiences that such an upbringing provides them with and the multiple methods that it uses.
Do you know why? Because the idle person who does not assume responsibility will never offer anything to his Ummah (nation), nor will he provide it with anything that is worthy, let alone provide himself with anything that is useful during his life or after his death. Therefore, Islam is keen on implanting the feeling of brotherhood and its obligations in the souls of its followers since the dawn of Da‘wah. That is because a feeling of responsibility towards others cannot not be formed unless it results from bearing responsibility in a serious and effective way, through participation with other Muslim individuals in studying and facing the problems that connect and associate them together. The following is an example of the guidance of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, leading us to the method of building the character of youngsters. Allah The Almighty Says in the story of Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, (what means): {And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast."} [Quran 37:102]
Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, was not hasty with his son to execute the order of Allah The Almighty. Rather, he consulted him so that he would respond willingly. Respecting the child’s character and making him feel confident is the best means to help him shoulder responsibility and be capable of bearing its consequences.

Children and Household Chores - II

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