Growing up, chores were not always my favorite. And according to research, I wasn’t alone! The millennial generation values work less and leisure more than previous generations.
This aversion to work is evident by get-rich-quick schemes, gambling, and more. Even the motivation to work hard is often fueled by a desire to have fancier toys, better vacations, and earlier retirement.
In a culture that has devalued work so much, why should it be a part of our family life?
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” work is listed as one of the nine principles essential to establishing a successful family. While working may seem like a chore, we can gain a little more insight by looking to the example of our first parents, Adam and Eve.
When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, things changed pretty drastically. Instead of getting to live in the care-free Garden of Eden, they were cast out into the lone and dreary world. Not only that, but the Lord made life a little more complicated for them. He said, “cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” (Moses 4:23).
While it can be tempting to look at working as a curse, remembering those last words can help us keep a proper perspective. Work, like the rest of mortality, is an opportunity for us to grow. At times we may long for those care-free days of Eden. But in reality, wishing away work is wishing away our progress.
What’s more, it’s not just the Lord who said work is “for [our] sake.” Research backs up the principle of work as a beneficial and important aspect of healthy family life.
What are the Benefits?
1. Work is a bonding opportunity.
A lot of work that goes on at home can seem pretty trivial or mindless. And really, it is! But that mindlessness can also be one of the greatest benefits.
Because so many household chores can be done with just muscle memory, those chores give us a chance to really connect. We can work side by side, having meaningful conversations while doing something as simple as folding laundry or washing dishes. Research shows that this time to talk and connect can really be vital for kids.
2. Work helps kids develop confidence.
Allowing kids to have some responsibilities can help them feel like their contributions are needed. The chance to help out lets them see that they are an important part of the family!
Not only that, but as parents teach their children to successfully complete household tasks, kids can take pride in the work they do. These feelings of competence build self-esteem and help children feel capable.
3. Work gives us a chance to serve.
An article from the BYU Magazine says, “Family work is a call to enact love.” Household work gives us a beautiful opportunity to show our love through serving family members.
This opportunity to love and serve has lasting benefits for our children’s moral development. Research shows that family-care household work (not just cleaning up after yourself) helps kids develop more concern for others. When we do work for others, not just for our own benefit, it helps us look outside ourselves.
How Can We Change Our Family Culture?
Knowing all these benefits, what can we do to better implement a culture of work at home? While it can be hard in such a pleasure-focused society, it is possible.
An article from the BYU Magazine shares a few great ideas:
1. Have a garden.
We can’t all live on farms to develop that work ethic our grandparents have! But a garden is a great way to create opportunities to work together as a family. Whether it be planting, weeding, or harvesting, cultivating a garden brings great benefits.
2. Teach by example.
If we expect our kids to enjoy and participate in family chores, then we need to do it to! As we work alongside our kids, they’ll come to see just how great it can be.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught,
Children need to work with their parents, to wash dishes with them, to mop floors with them, to mow lawns . . . and to do a hundred other things in which they will learn that labor is the price of cleanliness, progress, and prosperity.
3. Expect kids to help.
This doesn’t mean you should coerce your kids into helping out. (Dr. Tim wrote about how dangerous that can be!) But it does mean that your kids should know that family members take care of each other, including doing family work.
No matter what your family culture has been, it can be different than the worldly culture that devalues work. We can start today to create that culture, a culture that will will help us bond with our children and develop moral character.