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Why Do We Think Kids Exist to be Entertained?
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom is talking about The Road to Avonlea television series, now available on DVD, which she just loves. As a Canadian, it's great to hear praise of it!

Anyway, for those of you who don't know, it's set in Anne of Green Gables' neck of the woods at the turn of the last century. Sandra explains much of this, but what I want to pick up on is a comment she made. She said,

Watching the series you see young girls who by the age of 9 or 10 can cook, sew, embroider, take care of little ones and pretty much run a household, which then makes me understand why in the early 1900's they got married a lot earlier and
younger than we do now.

The boys helped the fathers with all of the physical work done in the farms and the ranches and this was all done before school, when today I can barely get Jasmine dressed and out of the house for school, imagine if she had to go milk a cow or gather eggs or clean the stables before hand? LOL

That is so interesting. Children in earlier times, and in different parts of the world, have far more responsibility than ours do. They used to have chores. Many of them! Not just making their beds. They learned to look after themselves. And they were richer for it.

I think one of the reasons that 14 and 15-year-olds in eras past didn't try to "find themselves" in the same numbers as today's teens do is that they already knew they were useful, and they had a purpose. They learned to think outside of themselves.

When kids do chores, they learn that other people rely on them; that they are expected to contribute to the family; that their work is useful. They learn that they can master something important, and that they must think about the effect of their own effort, or lack of effort, on other people.

Our children, on the other hand, live a very self-centred existence. From the moment they're born, our lives revolve around them, rather than the other way around. We take them to play dates, put them in kindergym and kindermusic, and then they go to school where they learn all about self-esteem.

As parents, we need to start getting back to the idea that children need responsibilities. Their lives should not revolve around entertainment. I think kids who do have responsibility and learn to care for the home actually end up less depressed and less rebellious because they are less self-focused. So our kids do a lot of chores. And we expect them to volunteer at church and with caring for younger kids. What about you? What do you think?

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At 9:06 PM , Blogger lindafay said…

I agree so much with your thoughts on this topic. Thanks for sharing them. I recently returned from living overseas for 12 years and am amazed at our entertainment filled society. Many children no longer enjoy the simple and beautiful pleasures of life- the rewards of a job well done, babysitting for others and baking cookies for a neighbor. Children thrive on character building activities IF we don't saturate them with too much entertainment. I sooo long to get this message out, but how many will listen?


At 10:53 PM , Anonymous realworldmartha said…

AMEN!!! It's so hard for them to see it as their peers aren't doing anything but I couldn't agree more.
Debbie aka The Real World Martha(S)


At 7:15 AM , Blogger Terry said…

Yes, Sheila, I couldn't agree with you more. My children have plenty of responsibility and we believe they are better for it


At 8:29 PM , Blogger annemcd said…

What a good point, that kids wouldn't have to "find themselves" if they already knew just how imortant they were to the family, especially through meaningful work. Interesting . . .


At 10:42 AM , Blogger Team Russi said…

You ask and answer a terrific question. I agree that, in the long run, we do our children a dis-service by doing everything for them.

Thanks for the thought-provoking comments.


At 6:09 PM , Blogger Susie Q said…

We do need to work on this with our youngest daughter (10) as she is much younger than the others...8 years. My older kids had more responsibilities (including watching their little sister) and I have to admit that I see some things in her personality that I don't care for. As a new SAHM again, I can take the time now to work on that. I need to get a few things in line but it is definitely changing...and she doesn't like it ;D Tough.


At 10:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Brilliant. It is 7:56 on Sunday morning. My children are playing a toy story video game and whining. This week I pull the plug and start inserting some household tasks and some good deeds. Thank you so much for showing me how off track I am. That I've slipped into the norm. I'm ready to break out. ;-)


At 2:58 PM , Blogger Julie said…

As a college administrator who has seen enough students turn their first load of laundry pink, so much so that a laundry social has been added to the list of Resident Advisor obligations, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for your children's attitude.
While my children can do many things, they are lacking because of an absence of knowledge on my part. I want them to know that food comes from trees and gardens, not just grocery stores, milk was never intended to come from cardboard and be filled with hormones, and there's a difference in taste and calories when you make yourself!
My 16 yo daughter is one of her only friends who can babysit, and consequently, she makes $10/hour.


At 7:26 PM , Blogger Janelle said…

I regret that I became more of enabler as younger ones were growing. I did
and still do.... too much.


At 7:31 PM , Blogger Janelle said…

I regret that I became more of an enabler with the younger children. I did and still do too much for them...things they can do themselves. I am getting better because I really care about them and my doing too much for them is not loving.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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