Chores, childhood and being adult

clothes line

Due to the fact that I spend entirely too much time on social media, I tend to see a lot of thought-provoking things.

It’s not all cute cat videos and memes about squirrels. Who knew?

Recently a video that was posted depicted young children around the ages of six through 10 years old helping load a dishwasher and sweep a floor.

This video of perfectly innocuous household tasks went viral. Why you ask?

While some people applauded what seemed like a cute video of kids doing what kids should do, there was another mindset that saw this as nothing short of child abuse. Of course, there was.


I am continually amazed when people espouse that their children should do no chores. I’ve been told that “I had children to be children, not to be our maids.”

Also, “school is their job. They don’t have to do anything else.” Finally is the all too common, “it’s just easier for the adults to do it themselves.”

Well of course it is. No one teaches a 4-year-old to make his bed because preschoolers are known for their mad skill with hospital corners. I haven’t mastered that at 10 times that age!

I’m just not sure how to respond when someone tells me that a perfectly capable 16-year-old has one weekly chore.

“So your driving age teen’s sole responsibility is to take out the trash once a week?” I’m so glad our children didn’t run with that crowd!

Ours (and their friends) were feeding livestock, chasing livestock, repairing fence in hopes of not having to chase livestock, chopping wood, loading a wood burner, learning to shop, preparing food, cleaning up, and so on.

Trust me, they are far from perfect and it’s still a work in progress but then again, so is my energy level and enthusiasm for chores sometimes.


Ongoing commitment aside we are all capable and that, my friends, is what children we hope to turn into successful adults need.

The ability to keep a home and take care of oneself does not magically arrive at a certain age — it is born of experience.

I, and most of my friends, gave children chores because we knew from the start that we weren’t raising perpetual children — we were raising future adults.

Adults who will have to take care of themselves, and others.

None of us are perfect, of course, someone, who shall remain nameless, has recently “forgotten” to load the wood burner on a very cold night.

Let’s just say his initials are MW (*cough* Mr. Wonderful *cough*) and his Yelp rating lost a star.

The upside of raising capable children? If we are away, Boy Wonder can pick up the slack.


When I hear about teens and young adults who can’t manage even basic household chores, or who still need “permission” to be adults, I wonder when and why we try to keep childhood going well into adulthood.

There are, I am sad to admit, a small sampling of parents who think adulthood is somehow subject to parental approval.

At 18 one is old enough to vote, sign a contract and go to war. I do get that “we provide financial support,” is a popular rallying cry of parents who don’t want to relinquish control.

On the other hand, I know grown adults who actually cannot support themselves. That doesn’t somehow make their adulthood null and void.

I swear to you I’ve read comments online claiming that people aren’t adults until age 23. They cite studies that the “frontal lobe” isn’t fully developed in 18-year-olds.”

Probably not, but as a wise friend said, “brain development hasn’t changed since our parents or grandparents grew up.

If the “Greatest Generation” could go to war at age 18, 19 and 20, I think ours can probably handle doing their own laundry and taking a short trip with friends.


Boy Wonder started taking road trips and trips with his friends and girlfriend at 18 years old. Just a few weeks ago he wandered around Canada, New York City, etc. I say “etc.” because while checked in periodically because he is thoughtful, the truth is that I was in the dark the whole time.

They had to scramble to find a place to stay for the night when a winter storm made it impossible to make it to their reserved hotel.

Great stories

Great memories. Great growth and learning. He’s an Eagle Scout who has been trusted with both fire and firearms since he was a pre-teen.

We figure if he can handle an ax and polar bear campouts he can probably handle a trip itinerary.

Now if we could just get him (and his dad) to pick up his shoes. That probably comes with age, right?


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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