It is quite common for every home and household to introduce the concept of and teach responsibility through house chores. And it is a timeless strategy that has worked over centuries. However, I want to be clear that we shouldn’t just give them random or even specific chores like we would give orders they need to comply with. Responsibility is not simply obedience. It is important that we communicate the necessity of their doing the chore. We need to help them understand that doing it shows that they care. Teaching responsibility or Share-of-Care is the very essence of them doing their chore-set.
A couple of years back, I moved out of our common abode because of the marital separation. I was in a small space, alone with my daughter. I have previously shared how I tried to make each day like a big play-date for us. I did this because she was young, only four at that time. I wanted to buffer her from the possible emotional stress of the situation. It didn’t make motherhood easy. As Kristina Kuzmic says, “Motherhood is messy”. It definitely is!!!! But it made it fun for the Bunny Munchkin. What magically made things bearable then, is her pitching-in some responsibility or “share-of-care”.
Of course she was aware of the sudden change. I honestly told her that I will need a little help from her. I need her to take care of some little things so that I can take care of her better too. There will be things that I will need to do, and so will she. And there will be things that we both have to take care of. The idea of “taking care of something” is generally, an easily understandable concept for a school-aged child.
I first asked her to take care of her toys and stuff. At that age, her sense of ownership is pretty established. She understood the need to need to care for them because she owns them. I gave her a small space to tackle too. Her wardrobe drawers and an ample floor space where her toys are tucked. That small floor space is also a play area. She also had her desk space. That was intended for her books, art, school things and some trinket she may fancy. The nearest walls served as her gallery. We posted her art works there. I could tell then, that she was happy she had “her personal spaces”.
I moved a bit forward by asking her if she was interested and willing to look over some plants too. They are not hers (plants of the property owner) but we benefit from those plants. The plants make our space look better and give us a bit of cheer. She accepted.
I also told her what responsibilities I shares-of-care I had.
It created a zone for each of us. Intentionally, I wanted her to understand personal spaces and respect it. I also showed her how we have common areas. Our space is not limited to our own personal space. I stressed that the bigger importance of caring for the common areas because it affects not just ourselves individually. What she does on the common area will affect me. What I do, will affect her too. It will be nice to think and consider if it will be okay for the other. Soon, she was pitching in and volunteering on tasks outside her responsibility or share-of-care.
Teaching responsibility or share-of-care establishes building blocks for social responsibility. That is important to me. After all, we are not solitary beings. We thrive in communities. And cliché as it might be, the home is always the basic and fundamental community. We teach communal life skills at home. We teach responsibility or share-of-care because we are all part of bigger picture.
P.S. Teaching her the concept of responsibility or shares-of-care was NOT a sit-down lecture. We were chatting about it as we fixed and decorated our small space.