Responsibility: burden or blessing?

by Sherry on June 6, 2013 in Inspiration in Child Rearing, Training Ground for Mature Adult Character

One of the best homemakers I have ever known grew up without a mother. She was the only girl in a pack of brothers, and somehow it became clear to her that it was her responsibility to make the house she lived in a home. Without any prompting or direction, she set out to study how to take care of things, how to cook and clean and make everyone feel comfortable. She told me she would visit neighbor’s homes and take notes in her mind as she watched other women go about their daily duties.

I have also met some awful homemakers. After the birth of one of my babies, our insurance company paid for a housekeeper to come in and clean for a day. The young lady that was tasked to help me rudely remarked as she came through the door, “Why did you have all these brats?” and then proceeded to wax worse as the day wore on. My house really wasn’t that dirty, but I thought it would be nice to give the children a break by having someone else wash the dishes for a change. She continually complained, was afraid of work, and then bragged, “I never helped my mom with anything!”

It showed.

My own grandmother never allowed her children to do much besides washing dishes. She did all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. She reasoned that the children would waste and ruin things. The result? Her own daughters were at a loss as to how to make the most basic foods, etc. when they started out in their own homes. My mother still remembers how very embarrassed she felt as a newlywed trying to fix pleasing meals for my dad, especially since his mother had been a marvelous cook!

Thankfully, my own mother allowed me multiple opportunities to help out with every facet of our home life. I cooked, cleaned, laundered, and even packed and un-packed and organized things when we moved. My husband was confident that he would not starve after we had wed!

It wasn’t until I was expecting my 5th child that I woke up and decided to train my children to help out with things around the house. The eldest at that time was only 7 years old, so their participation was limited, but each one could help at his/her level. I taught them to make their own beds, pick up their playthings, sweep the kitchen floor, and load/unload the dishwasher. As they matured, more chores were added, so that, by the time they were ready to leave, they were capable of carrying out almost any task in the entire house and even do basic home maintenance and repairs. Even my boys can cook if they absolutely have to (and they know how to separate the darks from the whites!).

One snooty relative once remarked to me, “I heard that the reason you homeschool is because you want to keep a lot of slaves at home,” to which I retorted, “If I was that lazy, I would send them all to school for free babysitting!”

Here is a truth; it takes as much or more work to train and supervise children to work as it does to do the work yourself.Β  I do not have a sedentary job; I am constantly showing someone how to peel potatoes, or sweep the corners of a room. I have made numerous procedure and checklists, and I have nagged until I have become hoarse. It is not just physically taxing, but emotionally draining to get children to help around the house, and this is where parents can become quite selfish, while they speak as though they are being self-sacrificing.

There is the opinion that children should not be “burdened” as they grow up, but I have found that children thrive on responsibility. A child who contributes to the well-being of the home feels that he/she has a stake in things, and there is a pride and dignity that is developed that increases family unity.

Then, as there are even more demands in adulthood, a son or daughter is never surprised, since he/she has been conditioned to look at life and work as one, instead of growing up with the feeling that responsibilities interfere with living.



Sherry K. Hayes loves the Lord Jesus Christ, her husband, and all of their 15 children, 11 of whom are homemakers and future homemakers! She has been homeschooling for more than 25 years, has seen the β€œgraduation” of eight of her children, and continues to enjoy the remaining 7 as they live and love together at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in scenic Colorado. You can read more about her family and her children on her blog, Large Family Mothering.

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Jacinda June 6, 2013

Great response! I’m going to have to remember that one. πŸ™‚

Heather June 6, 2013

Great post! I was never trained how to run a home at all…it’s a mistake I won’t be making with my own children.

Leah June 6, 2013

Wow. I am trying to get past those rude comments! Something tells me that young “lady” was looking for another job soon!

I have taught and assigned chores to my children since they were little, and although I have not been as good with teaching or “promoting” them as they have gotten older, due to declining health, they are figuring things out as they go along! πŸ™‚

Tehila June 7, 2013

This is such an inspiring post, Sherry! New training is starting tomorrow morning in our home :-)! My children do a fair bit in the home, but I need to be more diligent in training them to do things well, as unto the Lord.

So much appreciate your excellent advice!

kate gold June 7, 2013

Hey Sherry,
I was wondering if you had any tips for a girl who wants to be a homemaker, and well, from here, it looks like I’m going to be a bad one.
How can I convince my mom to teach me how to iron, make anything beyond a bowl of Cheerios, do laundry, do the dishes, and even dust? I really am at a loss for how to do about anything, and with both my parents working full tome jobs plus endless hours of overtime, it would make things a little better here at home, right?
My parents expect me to go to college… Kate

Sue June 7, 2013

My parents both worked, so that my sister and I had charge of the house until mom returned. We scoured recipe books – without prompting. We enjoyed surprising our parents with a clean, well organized home when they arrived home at night. So that, in addition to maintaining high GPA’s we were (or thought we were) pretty capable homemakers when we started out. May I suggest you do as the woman in the first paragraph did, take notes, ask questions and observe. Start by keeping your own room neat and organized; offer to take responsibility from there. Even if you must attend college, and start a career, try to maintain a heart of service toward your parents. If you let God and His word be your guide, He will place you where He would like you most to serve Him.
Best wishes
(Terrific article, Sherry!)

kate gold June 7, 2013

If anyone would care to email me, you can at

Hannah June 7, 2013

Hello Kate … I’m not Sherry but I hope you don’t mind me replying to you! I was just wondering, does your mom not want you learning these things, or just doesn’t take the time to teach? Do you know of any women who are homemakers (maybe in your church?) and would be willing to share some of their expertise? My heart goes out to you, even though I’ve never experienced your situation – I am the oldest of seven children, in my twenties but still at home, and I’ve been learning about and practicing housekeeping for as long as I can remember! If there is any way I can be of help or encouragement, feel free to write to me: shiningstarsmagazine[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sherry June 14, 2013

Dear Kate,

I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you–I was just thinking that you could be a great help to your parents, especially since they are both working. Just like the young lady I wrote about who was in charge of her family after her mother was out of the picture. I tried to be a great help to my mother, who also worked outside the home. There are all sorts of tutorials on the Internet, videos, etc., even books that could give you a leg-up!

It sounds as though you have a really sweet spirit and are willing to learn–pray about everything and trust God to lead you, even that He would bring Godly examples along the way!

Blessings to you!

Donna J June 7, 2013

Everyone needs to pitch in and help at home. Its not up to mama to do all the work. The young lady who was supposed to be your “housekeeper for the day”, is typical of many these days. Several of our neighbors have teen girls at home and they have housekeepers come in once a week to clean their homes. Not only are they depriving their daughters of the experience and training ~ they are setting up their future son in laws for spoiled wives who don’t know how to do anything.

Terry June 7, 2013

Thanks for this post, Sherry!
I’ve been wanting to write on this topic for awhile now. My mother did the same. Only let me do part of the housekeeping, so when I got married, I had no idea how to manage a home. It was very frustrating. Finally, when I turned 30 and had five children, I knew something had to change! Thankfully, I became a Christian at that time and God brought several friends into my life whom I could learn from. They taught me to can food, make bread, order my home, and more. We need to remember that other young moms probably don’t know how to take on the multitude of skills necessary to run a home and family. As homemakers, let’s resolve to be available to them!
Blessings, Terry

Sherry June 14, 2013

Good point–being available to others who don’t know where to start!

Joanna June 7, 2013

Thank you for your post Sheri. I think something that was implied in your post, but you didn’t say outright, is that while showing then the actual tasks are as important as showing them the joy that comes from running a home. My mother treated work around the home like it was a real chore and beneath her. I grew up and still struggle with this attitude. Luckily my husband is patient while I am learning to be a home maker and My Lord is a forgiving God who lets me start fresh each day. I want to teach my children that it is a blessing to be a home maker and that not all women are as lucky as I am and hopefully they will be some day. Your children are not only learning to wash, sort, or clean they are learning the work of the Kingdom. It’s really to bad that the enemy has been so successful in providing blinders to so many of this fact. Your posts are a real blessing, thank you.

Kathlene June 7, 2013

Oh Kate, I remember that! I was in the same scenario. I am a homemaker now, with 4 kiddos that I homeschool. I know that this is God’s plan for my life. Unfortunately, if your mother doesn’t see the value in homemaking, I would start looking to family friends, aunts, grandmothers. Many women would be so honored if you ask them to teach you homemaking arts. Make an apt with them so that they know you are sincere.

I believe that if you choose not to teach your children how to take care of a home, you are failing as a parent. Every person will have their own home and need to take care of it. It is just as important as knowing how to read. I do teach my children home care skills. Often times, I wish I did it more often. My failing is that I like and enjoy doing these things so I want to do it myself. Really though, my daughter is 15. It’s time for her to really take a huge part in household care.

Heather M June 7, 2013

I am finding, since I had absolutely NO IDEA where to start that has been my cleaning mother, so to speak. For anyone reading this look for advice πŸ™‚

As far as myself goes, I plan on giving this gift to my kiddos as well. Although encouragement like this is wonderful, when you admitted that it’s MUCH more work to show them/train them/get them to work along side you.
My own mother neither cleaned nor had me help. Our house was right out of the hoarders show (in fact I can’t watch it without an emotional melt down). So I’m learning how to do it all myself as well as breaking habits of being ‘OK’ with filth. Luckily I married a man who does dishes and diapers for me when I need a leg up.
I am beginning to form a little mantra in my head – something I tell myself when I am beat and I just want to cancel my plans of having them do chores with me (I have four 5yo and under). It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. And not like many people will say, ‘so you don’t have to when they get older’ but really it’s so they can in their own homes when they get older…
The cool thing about having them home all the time, is that it’s kind of hard NOT to show them and so easy to hand em a rag or a measuring cup while they are around you anyways… Plus, at the ages mine are at, they are begging me to let them help πŸ™‚

Sherry June 14, 2013

Flylady is such a valuable ministry to so many! This is a terrific place to start!

Katie Hamilton June 10, 2013

that last paragraph is an “ouch”. I wish I had been raised with that mentality… actually, I’m sure my parents desired to and tried their best to instill it into me, but I messed that up πŸ™ Now I’m a 20 yr old wife and mother in training and the “more work” as opposed to “normal life/good work ethic” is not a good one. Any tips’d be appreciated! THIS POST CERTAINLY WAS!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Sherry June 14, 2013


I think that what helps me daily is to be thankful for work–it really is a blessing in our lives! I think everyone struggles from time-to-time, but being grateful that we have capable bodies, or that we have food to make the dishes dirty, or pure water to clean with, or machines that will clean our clothes–this is really the way that I keep encouraged, and what I use to remind my children when they are struggling with their attitudes.

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