Kids/Teenagers Responsibilities at Home

Recently, in a number of threads, I’ve seen mention of what children/teenagers are required to do at home and it seems to vary significantly so I wanted to start a discussion about it.

What responsibilities/chores did you have growing up?

What kind of daily responsibilities/chores do your assign your kids?

What do you think are reasonable expectations of your kids in terms of helping out around the house?

Did laundry (washed, dried, folded), cleaned the kitchen (dishes, mainly, brother and sister took on other parts of that), cleaned my room (vacuumed/made bed every day, sheet change once a week), yard work (raking, shoveled snow till I messed up my back when I was fourteen and my parents never let me do it again), anything else that was asked of us…

I didn’t have to do too much growing up, set the table for dinner, helped clear it afterwards…fold laundry on occasion. I grew up with my sister (who raised me) doing most of the work, or we had a cleaning person come in now and again. I think when you grow up like this, it is easy to pass such ‘‘traits’’ on to one’s kids. :blush: I am better, but I don’t force a lot of chores on my kids. They are responsible for their own rooms, they help fold laundry, and my son empties the garbage, and they clean the cats’ litter boxes. My husband on the other hand, feels they should be doing way more, and gets on me about getting on them. :rolleyes: I try…but, when he’s home from work, he gets them mopping, vacuuming, dusting, doing windows…it’s quite impressive. I don’t know what it is about this, but I feel ‘‘bad’’ forcing them to do a lot of chores…:shrug: They are not lazy per se it is really me…I just do the things for them, and don’t ask for help. Just this past weekend, my husband flipped about this with me. He gets very angry as he perceives the kids ‘‘walking over’’ me. I don’t see it that way, though.:o

*Just a question too for the group, since you started this thread Jay–I guess I don’t understand how doing tons of chores around the house, helps a kid later on? I get the work ethic thing, I do. I believe kids should take care of their rooms, bathrooms…basically clean up after themselves. But, I have a hard time with the concept of getting them to mop floors, and clean windows…and clean out the family car, etc. My husband really puts the kids ‘‘to work’’ when he’s off from work, and I say nothing, but I disagree …he is a neat freak as they say, and things have to be completed to such ‘‘high standards’’ according to my daughter. lol (the lil reporter) I do stay out of it…I don’t want to usurp my husband’s ‘‘authority’’ when it comes to this with them, but I have a problem when he creates unncessary arguments with me over this…If I want to do the chores myself, so be it. If I want to serve my kids in this way, so be it. They will be out of the house someday soon enough (they are 13, and 17) and so, why not allow me this?

Second, I don’t think the sum total of how well you handle life boils down to how well you can clean a house. I clean, I like a clean house. But, I don’t think that kids need to be bogged down with a bazillion chores…to learn how to have a good work ethic. Use your minds, get good grades, get into college, get a good job…and most importantly love God, and put Him first. My husband thinks it is very necessary for kids to learn how to take care of household chores…I dunno. Just wanted to throw that out there, and see if I’m alone in my thinking or not. My husband and I have a great marriage, very loving…but when it comes to this? That’s where our arguments come in. It’s kind of an old scene. :frowning: *

it is very important that children be responsible for chores that keep the family home running smoothly – trash, garbage, table washing, dishes, fill-run-empty dishwasher, laundry, bed making and room cleaning, general dusting and straightening and vacuuming, meal planning-preparing-clean-up, pets, yard and garden work. yes, it is easy to do it yourself many times and let them not do much, but then they don’t feel as needed and responsible and are likely to get the ‘gimmies’ and the entitled attitude. there should be daily jobs, weekly jobs, seasonal jobs – and every thing done for the house, vehicles, garden, etc should be done at least occasionally by everyone old enough to do it. let them be capable, responsible people, like you would want them to marry – if you want them to marry someone capable and hardworking, don’t you think their future spouses, bosses, friends deserve the same? prepare them for life so it is not a shock and hardship when suddenly they find themselves in way over their heads in all that they must do to succeed!

*Agree with the basic premise, Rachel…but I didn’t do much in the way of chores growing up, and I had a great work ethic in college, and when I had jobs, and at my current one.
I DO think kids need assigned chores…I do. I think that otherwise they could be entitled, and lazy. But, my husband’s version and my version of that, are two very different things. Anyways, I understand your point. *

I still have pretty young kids… but we still have them help around the house.

We don’t have a “set” of chores or anything defined, but just get the kids involved in whatever housework we’re doing at the time.
General pick-up (the kids have to put away their toys), garbage (kids can take garbage and recycling out to the garage), being responsible for all their school stuff (kids have to bring everything in from the car and put everything away), laundry (kids help pull stuff out of the dryer and push baskets around - still too young to REALLY help fold)… etc…

This is such a great thing to start with your kids EM! I think this is where looking back, I might have ‘‘failed.’’ I always picked the toys up for my kids, when I was staying at home, and not working. I always brought their book bags in, etc…:blush: The habits start when they’re young, so by the time they are teens, they are acclimated to the idea of chores. That’s really good, EM. I like how they help you take the laundry out of the dryer, and push baskets around…that sounds so cute. :o

i remember how when my youngest was just 2-3yo, he would help me sort the clean laundry into piles of mommy’s, daddy’s, mine, baby’s and have such fun! at 18months old, my kids all get a knife to help mommy chop veggies for soup. as soon as they start wearing underwear they get to join the ‘panty party’ and find their own underwear in the laundry basket to put away. at 2yo, they get to help knead bread and pizza dough, etc. my tag-a-long kids got to do chores right along with me and loved it. everyone is responsible for taking their things out of the van after each trip, etc. good habits started early carry on right thru adulthood.

Growing up I did a lot of things around the house, but I don’t really think I ever had a formal list of things I had to do. If something needed to be done my parents would ask my brother or I to complete it, and me being older, those duties usually fell on me.

I kept my room clean, had to mow the lawn once a week, rake leaves, shovel snow, vacuum periodically, set the table, cleaned up after myself. I folded laundry from a young age and once I got into high school I did my own laundry 90% of the time.

From 8th grade onward, I was responsible for cooking dinner a 2-3 nights a week since both my parents worked full time.

There were some things I didn’t have to do often because they were done by my parents or assigned to my brother. For instance, my father always took the trash cans out to the curb since he woke up the earliest and my brother or I would take them in from the curb when we got back from school.

I don’t think excessive chores are truly beneficial. I don’t think kids are meant to be ‘laborers’ but I do think all children should have some responsibilities and be required to do things on their own so they become independent and don’t get a sense of entitlement where they expect their parents to do everything for them.

I think that an up bringing and responsibilities around the house factor into how good of a roommate one is when they go off to college. I had a couple roommates in my apartment during college that had no idea how to do very basic cooking. Fortunately they all pitched in equally for other things that needed to be done (like cleaning). However, I would see other groups of friends complaining to one another because one person would just leave plates on the table or pots in the sink after using them because they didn’t care much or would ‘get around to cleaning it eventually’. They knew that if they left it long enough one of the roommates would get fed up with the situation and clean it for them rather than confront the true issue (just like their parents would do for them growing up). The same goes with leaving clothes on the floor, etc.

All in all, kids will be fine whether they do chores or not. I think it just helps to have some ‘life skills’ reinforced through chores (or other means if not by chores) while living at home. To make kids dust a windowsill over and over may not provide much value. However, making sure they know to always clean up after themselves, don’t make a mess deliberately or through negligence and how it affects others I think are important life lessons that will help improve friendships later on and better prepare them for sharing responsibilities with a spouse.

*Good points, Jay. Agree. My dh definitely has a process…and it’s not to prove a point or anything, he just believes they should be helping ‘‘as much’’ as the adults. (since they are teens now) My son can do a lot of heavy lifting…too, since he is over 6’ and more than able to help out. I see my dh’s point, and that’s fine, but I don’t get why he gets on me to get on them, when he is at work. :shrug:

Regarding college roomies–very valid point. I nearly lost a friendship over the fact that I would leave dishes and so on in the sink, when we shared an off campus apartment…I was shocked that someone would judge our friendshp based on that, when I was a good friend in so many (to me) more valuable ways. *

My parents always had me put away my toys when I was done using them before moving on to something new. I could take up as much space while playing, but once I was done, all the toys had to go back into my room or the bins, closet, etc. After a while I just ended up doing it without any prompting.

On weekends when I was pretty young, I would watch cartoons or sports and my parents would give me a pile of towels to fold or laundry to sort. We would do it together…so despite watching tv we were still productive so to speak.

As a teenager, my parents didn’t require too much of me in terms of household chores. I was on two varsity sports teams in high school and was very focused on academics. I did want to quit one of the sports teams a couple of times, but my mother, repeatedly, told me ‘no.’ Recently, I had a conversation with my mom about all of this, and she told me that she didn’t have bulky household chore requirements because she wanted me to focus on schoolwork and grow work ethic skills from other areas of life. To this day, I am very hard working person. I think my parents did a good job.

One thing my parents did do in terms of household chores was to expose me to a wide variety of housework. Although I didn’t have weekly requirements (except to keep my room clean and pick up after myself), I would help with dinner, laundry, “deep cleaning,” yard work, snow management, sewing, and even home repairs as needed. This came to be more of a teaching thing than a sheer work ethic thing, so that I knew the basics of cooking, how to do laundry, how to do some sewing, how to fix the toilet when it was doing X, and even what works best for getting out Y stain from the carpet when I left my parents house for college.

Housework can provide for valuable teaching moments. :slight_smile: I don’t know what I’d do without that knowledge! (Or what my husband would do, for that matter ;)).

I grew up in a house where I had little household responsibility. We helped my mom unload groceries from the car and we put our dirty dishes in the sink. When I was about 16 my mom asked me to start doing my own laundry. Other than that, I cleaned once or twice a year when I felt like it. I probably washed dishes 10 times in my life before I moved out at the age of 23. To answer Whatevergirl’s question, once I moved out on my own and had to call my mom and ask her how to clean a shower I realized I had missed out on some important values: household responsiblity and famlily cohesion. Once I was on my own I actually apologized to my mother for not helping her for all those years I lived with her even though she never really asked us to. I had no idea how much work it was to keep a house. So now I really believe that all members of a household have a responsibility to keep up with chores and I also believe by doing this it develops a sense of teamwork or family cohesion. My friends who grew up with a lot of household responsibilities express a sense of pride in assisting their mother and helping to take care of the family.

So in my own family, even though we are very young (a 1 year old and a 2 year old), I try to instill in the children the sense of responsiblity to pick up after themselves. We pick up their toys every night before bed. They put their clothes in the hamper. My 2 y/o helps me with dusting and wiping the kitchen table. She puts the clean silverware away after the dishwasher is done. It’s easy to see she is happy to help and is so proud when I reward her with a hug and a kiss for helping. Eventually I do plan to have them do regular chores like taking turns with the dishes, sweeping and mopping, taking out the garbage, etc. I don’t expect them to do it as laborers, but as part of the family team. It’s not right for all the household work generated by a family to fall onto one person. In the end I hope I’ll be preparing them for life on their own and to also build the feeling of teamwork and helpfullness.

What responsibilities/chores did you have growing up?
~My dad took care of everything outside the house & all repairs. My mom cooked dinners and washed the kitchen floor. My brother kept his room free of rodents and I did everything else :eek:

What kind of weekly responsibilities/chores do your assign your kids?
~making beds (all)
~sweeping/vacuuming (all)
~shoveling snow in winter (ds18 & ds15…ocassionally ds12 & ds10)
~raking leaves in fall (all)
~cutting grass in spring/summer/fall (ds18 & ds15)
~landscaping/gardening (all)
~washing dishes by hand since we don’t have room for a dishwasher (ds18)
~drying dishes by hand (younger 3 rotate this job)
~some laundry (ds18)
~clean the small bathroom (ds18)
~help with indoor repairs (ds15)
~litter boxes (ds15)

Ds18 has been having difficulty finding a job, so he’s my part-time housecleaner in the meantime :smiley: (he’s even cleaned my oven :thumbsup: and may even start washing my kitchen floor).

What do you think are reasonable expectations of your kids in terms of helping out around the house?
~Division of labor growing up was gender-based (boys outside/girls inside), but because my dad liked his chores and my mom hated hers, I ended up with the bulk of chores (even when I was in college full-time and worked part-time) and my brother ended up with none. I vowed I would do things differently with my dc (where no one person had the bulk of responsibilities).

~Everyone is responsible for keeping up the basics; I will pay for ‘extras’ (or jobs that I *really *dislike) . By the time my dc are ready to leave home, I hope to have them be familiar with all aspects of home care/repair/maintenace.


me, I did nothing. Grandma did it all! Poor Grandma.

dh did nothing in the house, but had farm chores.


My kids

take the trash out, put out the cans on trash day
dishes daily
each have a room in the house to clean daily
clean their rooms
clean out the vans
feed the chickens and the goats’
help put laundry away
mow the lawn
help with the little kids
shovel goat and chicken pens
Whatever else I give them

unfortunately, though the quality of their work isn’t so hot. And nagging is involved!l So, even though the list is long, I’m still doing way too much. The nagging is the worst. It drains me…and I think it hurts our relationship.

Oh well, I’ll be a perfect parent in heaven.


Like Whatevergirl my mom died when I was young, in my case 13, and she was in hospital for virtually the whole year when I was 12. My dad became deeply depressed and lived in his room so noone was doing the cooking or cleaning or anything else. I tried but I really didn’t know what I was doing, and as a children we were so traumatized we weren’t very teachable.

Fast forward 20+ years, I’m now a wife and mom of three and God has blessed me with a husband who is very competent around the house. Of course over the years I picked household skills up but I am still not a good cook - I do my best and our kid’s are healthy but it’s something that is not second nature and I have to put in a lot of mental effort and planning in to accomplish anything.

I basically feel that by teaching your children how to do all the jobs around the house you are actually blessing them. To me they are survival skills, especially cooking. My kids are very young but they already enjoy cooking and are very interested in it. I plan to find an excellent cook when they are older - say 11 onwards who will literally teach them a ton of healthy recipes and it will be “homework” that they learn to cook a dish a week. I will make sure they learn even if they moan about it.

Being a good cook is a fantastic lifeskill as far as I am concerned. Not only can you be confident your children will be eating healthily they will never be short of friends because the easiest way to get together with others, especially in college and onwards is to cook a great meal. Who doesn’t love a friend who can cook? Male or female? Any spouse would be thrilled with a partner who can cook and this is an obvious blessing for future children and the whole family.

As for all the rest of the work it takes to run a house, or even to keep an apartment clean I believe it is so important that we teach our children what that involves. Otherwise you can have kind, sweet, well brought up kids who are horrible to live with because they are unaware of the work they are creating for others.

I don’t want my children to be a burden to friends, work colleagues and a future spouse because they act as if bathrooms are self-cleaning, dishes can grow stuff in the sink and picking up is always for someone else. Sometimes it can be a matter of misunderstanding but I often find that some people are literally oblivious to the fact that yes they can work hard at school or in a job and bravo to that, but they still need to feed themselves decent meals, keep their living environment clean and tidy and do all the other jobs that everyone has to do to function.

We all have to balance work inside and outside the home and by teaching children these skills they don’t have to suffer shock when they realize the world is not full of “laundry fairies” and “cleaning fairies”. If you don’t do it some other poor soul has to. How can that be Christian? I believe it is kind to teach our children to be aware of others, not to be selfish and to contribute to the world around them in practical ways.

My basic rule with my kids is “leave it the way you found it or better” i.e. if it’s clean, keep it that way and if it’s not contribute to making things better. I also think it’s important that my children have respect for people who make all of our lives more comfortable by cleaning and cooking for a living. To be aware of their contribution and be grateful for it.

I love Samovila’s comments, responsibility and family cohesion are where it’s at! :thumbsup:

Age 9+ Daily - make breakfast for everyone, make beds, tidy own room, feed cats, wash dishes after dinner. Saturday, sand as weekdays + vacuum and dust the living room, clean 1 bathroom.
Age 12+ Daily - same as age 9 + but also load and sort laundry. Saturday, same as age 9+ but also mow the lawn, help paint the kerb, garden shed, etc in summer.
Age 15+ - Daily + Saturday same as age 12+. Sundays, make Sunday dinner, + dinner on Wednesday (we had a 1/2 day from school on Wednesday). My sister and I took turns with Sunday and Wednesday dinners.

Our kids are 4 and under, and DH and I haven’t gotten around to setting chore responsibilities yet. The last 2 years have been rough for our family, and housekeeping hasn’t been a priority. But Saturday, that all changes (insert evil-sounding laugh here :D)

Until I was 14, I lived with my grandmother. I was supposed to clean my room and a few other things, but I never did any of them. She relied on nagging and demeaning comments plus spanking for motivation, and I just didn’t respect her because of that. When I was 14, I went to live with foster parents who were great, respectful people. I was responsible for cleaning the bathroom, making my bed, cooking dinner once or twice a week, cleaning the table and loading / unloading the dishwasher when I didn’t cook, doing my own laundry, raking the lawn after my uncle mowed it (and mowing it myself upon request), washed the family cars, and other chores by request. Other than the bathroom (seriously … . a full cleaning once a week?), I thought it was pretty reasonable. I worked 20 hours and went to college full-time during part of that time (age 17), and it still was fine (except the bathroom).

My DH doesn’t remember having any chores growing up, and it shows. I had to teach him how to do housework. Fortunately, he is pretty humble and has been very gracious about accepting teaching from me - and then learning to do things better than me :slight_smile: But I think we both agree that we want our children to be more prepared for daily life than he was. Their responsibilities will probably look more like mine than like his by the time they are teens.

I wasn’t thrilled about chores as a teen (especially the bathroom . . . did I mention the bathroom? :wink: ), but as an adult, I really appreciate that I know how to keep a house clean, even when I don’t have the time to make it a priority. I like to know at least that a clean house is something I can achieve. And I want my kids to go into adulthood with that same experience - knowing that they can do anything that Mom and Dad did, because they’ve already done it while growing up. I even intend to have them pay the family bills at some point . . . that’s the one thing I wish my parents had worked with me on before I left.

I don’t have a lot of respnsiblities at home. I have a heavy honors schedule at school, so my main responsiblity is to keep my grades up and study. But my parents ask me to do laundry or pick up the dishes sometime.