Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to Raise Kids to be Successful Adults

Got an interesting tidbit in one of my many email newsletters today. From Franklin Covey Guru Advice-giver, Stephanie Vozza:
"Dr. Martin Rossmann of the University of Minnesota found that the best predictor of a child's success is that they began helping with household chores between the ages of three and four. His study found that the teens who had been given responsibilities as preschoolers were more likely to finish their education on time and have quality relationships."

I remember chores as a child. Did I appreciate them then? No. Did my kids have chores? Yes. But it seems that many children nowadays don't have chores. Are we raising a coddled, entitlement-minded generation? Could be. What's the answer? Hint: It starts at home.

That being said, do your children/grandchildren have chores? If not, why not? Every person in every family needs to be a contributing member.

What About Allowance?

Of course, then we get into the thorny issue of allowance. Should kids be paid for completing chores? Or should contributing to the betterment of the family as a whole be it's own reward and allowance distributed based simply on household membership? Well, I've done it both ways (as well as a few hybrids) and I could argue any side of any one. So I say give it some serious thought and do what works for your family. And if what you're doing isn't working, change it.

My personal preference for my four kids, based on financial circumstances and trial and error, was a monthly allowance based on age ($1/year/month, with annual raises in the birthday month) and chores assigned based on age/ability and not tied to allowance. What? Only $1/year/month? Are you kidding? Was this in the 1950s? NO! It was actually in the 80s-90s. What did my kids say? "Well, my friends all get $5/week." Oh well. Did I cave to the pressure? No, I let them take turns writing out the checks to pay the bills each month, after which the complaints ceased. Our budget was a completely open book and there's nothing like real-life experience on the planning end of making ends meet to make a believer out of your kids. Also, it inspires the kids to get a job and work for what they want. "Yearn and earn," as Dr. Laura says.

Bottom Line

You won't always be there to bail out your kids. You won't always be there to even help them a little bit. Teach your kids practical skills from an early age and, even if they don't appreciate your efforts at the time, they will thank you later in life. How to handle money, how to care for clothing, how to clean a house - yes, your kids can learn these things after they leave the next but adult life is so much easier if the basics are already second-nature.

Added bonus? Life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect it. How reassuring to know that not only can your adult kids take care of themselves and their families but that they'd even be able to give you a hand if the need arose? While I don't intend to have to rely on my kids later in life (physically or financially), it's nice to know I can depend on them if need be.

So, what do you think? How do you handle chores and allowance in your home?


  1. Loved this post Crystal. I've got 4 kids like you. By the age of 4, they can unload the dishwasher. My 10 year old does 100% of the laundry in the house. My 7 is in charge of bathrooms, including cleaning toilets.

    Personally, I'm amazed parents don't require more from their children. Plus, chores help kids feel a sense of worth and accomplishment. It's a win/win.


  2. Glad to hear your kids are included in the daily running of your home, Marcus - there's no better way to learn than by doing. I remember a newly-married friend back in the day who was dismayed that her house didn't stay clean. Seriously. Dismayed to the point of tears. Her mom had always taken care of everything while she was a school and she truly had no idea you had to keep doing the same things over and over - like floors and dusting. And my Marine son was blown away that none of his fellow recruits in boot camp knew how to do laundry because they never had. Just two examples of why it's so important to make sure they learn this stuff as kids.