Helping with chores makes kids more generous

Parents in the US are giving up the struggle to get their kids to help with household chores and in doing so they are passing up an important way of cultivating virtues in their offspring and preparing them for a successful marriage later on. These are points made by Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger in her column this week. New research, she reports, shows a drop of 25 per cent in time spent by children aged 6 to 12 on chores since 1981. Kids of that age now spend on average only 24 minutes a day helping with housework. One immediate result is that kids going to college for the first time have no idea what to do with their laundry -- apparently they “destroy” it.

Partly the decline is explained by the fact that parents are doing less housework too. In any case, we may be missing something out on something of value here, says Shellenbarger:

“Pitching in at home has become a crucial marriage-preservation skill for young men. Studies show parents still assign more housework to girls than boys. Yet these same young women hope as adults to find men who will help out; 90% of 60 women ages 18 to 32 studied by Kathleen Gerson, a New York University sociology professor, said they hoped to share housework and child care with spouses "in a committed, mutually supportive and egalitarian way." After controlling for other factors, U.S. marriages tend to be more stable when men participate more in domestic tasks, says a study of 506 U.S. couples published in 2006 in the American Journal of Sociology.”

Other research has found that doing housework as a child was a major, independent predictor of whether a person chose to do volunteer or other community work as an adult. Says one father who started his kids as toddlers, “It helps them realise the world is not all about them.” ~ Wall Street Journal, August 27


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