Are You Giving Your Child Enough Responsibility?


responsibilityMy daughter loves to cook with me. And clean, and basically any household task I’ve got going on. She’s super helpful and I know I’ve been failing when, in the interest of getting it done quicker, neater, better, I reject her help and tell her to go play {I know, I know. Shame mama!}.

She just wants to learn and if I don’t let her help at her own pace how is she going to? It is my job to “train up a child”, and I admit I struggle with my urge to get it done and her need to learn how to do it well.

A good friend of mine recently reminisced how her mother never taught her to cook. All the cooking she does she had to learn on the fly as a newly married woman. So as you can imagine there were many inedible meals and frustrated days in the front of the stove. Her husband eventually taught her too cook.

As parents, we all say we want our children to grow up to become responsible adults. But then we also don’t want our children to grow up too quickly so we thwart the growing up processes by never letting them spread their wings and learn.

But there is a balance.  There are many clues we can use to let us know whether we are giving our children enough responsibility. And where to possibly step back and let go.

Here are some things I’m trying to pay attention to as I help my daughter grow into a responsible young woman.

  • A Request to Be More Involved. Has your child asked you for more chores? Believe it or not my daughter did and does ask for more chores repeatedly. Today in fact she asked me if she could peel the potatoes for dinner. I’ve been a bit neglectful in the fine art of peeling veggies but a quick tutorial and she was off. It took her longer than it would have taken me but she got it done and I was able to work on other parts of dinner while she helped me tackle that chore. Children are smarter than we give them credit for and sometimes (sometimes) they know best what they can handle. A child who feels a need for more responsibility may you ask for it. Trust your child’s natural intuition and work together to find some more responsibility.
  • Reactions to Responsibility: How does your child react to responsibility? You know setting the table, making their bed, feeding the pet. Does your sweet one cringe when you ask for this extra help or accept it and go do it with enthusiasm? If your child resists then maybe they are not ready for more responsibilities in those particular areas. If your child is happy to accept more responsibilities then by all means go forth!
  • Is Your Child Bored: I wrote an article on this recently. A bored kid may not have enough responsibility. Are Amish children ever bored (I read Amish fiction)? I think not. Okay maybe but they certainly have enough to do. Children love a good challenge, take pride in their accomplishments, and love that accomplished feeling (who doesn’t?) Case in point. My best friend in grade school high school was ubber smart. But she was not challenged in school. In fact it was so boring for her she ended up dropping out! Isn’t that sad? She ended pursuing her interests and eventually went and got a GED and a few college courses under her belt. But how much further would she have gone had she been allowed to spread her wings and move on past our current grade? She was stifled in pursuing her interest because it required a college degree which required a highschool diploma or GED. By the time the finally went and got the GED she was pretty disenchanted and moved on only half heartedly. If a child is not being challenged enough, they may get bored and act out (dropping out of high school). Often, a child labelled with bad behavior is just seeking fulfillment.
  • What do other parents do?: Do you have any friends with children the same age as yours? If so compare notes on responsibilities. Now we know every family situation is different so carbon copy what other parents do. Get a general idea of what may be age appropriate chores for your child. Are your friend’s kids making their beds, cleaning their rooms, and helping with dinner? Do yours do these same chores or play all day? Have a family discussion and create a chore list that each family member . Have your childrenís peers recently begun getting a small allowance that is monitored closely by their parents, while you have been giving unlimited amounts of money to them for years? Then perhaps too much responsibility is at play here.
  • Responsibility Should Match Privilege: When my daughter started asking for a pet we came to an agreement that she had to grow in some areas to show us she would take on the care of her pet. We set a time period for her to show us she was ready for the responsibility. Well then yes unfortunately we chose a hamster which notoriously didn’t live long and even though we’re still grieving over Fluff the Sweet Peanut did extremely well in her care of her first pet. As your child grows and becomes more responsible,  privileges should expand to reflect that as well. And likewise, as your child grows old enough to receive more privileges, you will know that you can hold him accountable with more responsibility.

Teaching our children responsibility is an area where there is not always an easy answer. All children progress at different rates, and not one approach fits all. But try this list to give yourself a general idea of whether or not you are giving your child enough responsibility for their growth and development.


With great power comes great responsibility. ~Voltaire


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