We've heard many times over the past couple of weeks that, basically, if not forced, kids will always make a choice that is 'easiest' on them (with the implication that 'easiest' means the choice which requires the least amount of work, or is the most fun). The most common one is that kids will always watch TV instead of reading. It caused me to pay attention to some of the choices that my kids have been making (and wonder about how we ended up with so, so many books in the house). Here are some recent examples:
Options: Sleep late or get up early to help take the RV in to get serviced. Choice: go to the RV dealer.
Options: Anything on the menu at Applebee's. Choice: salad.
Options: Chocolate croissant vs. watermelon. Choice: watermelon.
Options: A donut at Dunkin Donuts. Choice: no thanks.
Options: Watch TV or help Mom by washing the dishes. Choice: wash dishes.
Options: Play the Wii or help dig a garden. Choice: dig the garden.
This by no means represents all the choices that my kids had the opportunity to make recently, but it helps to confirm my faith in my children. It's also not meant to assert that our kids make way better choices than any one else - just that they don't have to be forced to make them.
We've also heard the assumption that if kids aren't assigned chores, then they won't do any work around the house. Again, the implication here is that kids are lazy and will always take the easy way out. Some tasks that our kids do that have become the 'norm' even though we don't have chores:
Take out the garbage and recyclables.
Empty the dishwasher.
Put away the groceries.
Go grocery shopping.
Do her own laundry (my daughter).
Now, this isn't meant to be earth shattering information, or for that matter an exhaustive list of what our kids do around the house - it's meant to represent just small points. When we talk to the kids about chores (or more accurately, about helping around the house), it becomes a matter of choices - they understand that if the parents do all the work, then the parents will be tired and will have less time available to spend with the kids. They also understand that helping others feels good - and that helping those you love feels really good. This is something that they are quite able to learn all on their own, with the guidance of their parents.