“Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”—Anonymous
“Said the daughter: ‘I don’t have to help my Mom with the housework. She knows how.’” —Anonymous
Amongst other elements there are two areas the family unit must continually address: social needs and maintenance requirements. Social needs pertain to the way the family interacts with one another, whereas maintenance requirements involve the tasks necessary to keep the household running smoothly. It’s a constant balancing act and if there’s too much attention to one over the other for an extended period of time, the family simply doesn’t operate as well. At one extreme is the family that interacts so much that chores don’t get done and as a result the home environment suffers. On the other hand if it’s all work and no play, the needs for involvement and affiliation are adversely affected and can lead to the members feeling isolated from one another.
If you look at the various cards in the Children’s Spirit Animal Cards you’ll see that these two dimensions are addressed in a variety of ways. The value of contributing to the family by doing chores is the message from Beaver spirit. The card itself shows a Beaver looking out at us, branches in hand (which he undoubtedly chewed off a tree), with the simple message, “Do Your Chores.” Beavers themselves have tightly knit family units and maintain these bonds not only through working together, but also through grooming, play and vocal communication. As Beaver said in the extended message in the guidebook for the cards:
You might have heard the expression, “busy as a beaver,” but I’m telling you we’re not always that busy. I get things done as quickly as possible and try to do my best when I have some chores to do. I don’t even think of what I do as chores, but more that I’m making important contributions to my family, friends, and to my community.
So today check with your parents or friends and see if there’s anything they want you to do. Then do what they’ve asked, do your best, and try not to look at any of these tasks as chores. Instead, think about how good it feels to help someone else out, even with easier chores like taking out the trash or drying the dishes. Especially in your family there are a lot of ways you can help out by doing different jobs. And do them with a smile.
An older child who is interested in reading this more extensive message will also find suggestions for activities that support the value of contributing to the family functioning smoothly. Parents can also guide their children in engaging in these particular activities, thereby reinforcing the importance of their contribution to the harmony of the family unit. Here are some of the possibilities:
* Look around your house and find one or two chores to do that contribute to the upkeep of the home and do them before you’re even asked.
* Finish something you started but had put aside, like writing a story or doing an art project.
* Whenever you are doing any of your chores, try to do them graciously and with a slight smile on your face knowing you are helping others.
For parents, there are additional suggestions of things they can do with their children in the guidebook to further encourage their children to contribute by doing the chores that are needed.
* When a child is given specific chores, giving them a choice can help lessen power struggles, such as, “Would you like to clean your room now or when we get home?” The implication is that they are expected to do it but still have a choice in the matter.
* Children like to help out and contribute to the family, so giving them chores that are age appropriate so that they can succeed in fulfilling them helps build their sense of responsibility, competency, their sense of community, and their work ethic.
As stated, the child should be given responsibilities that are age appropriate. They should be encouraged for their efforts and not for perfection. As parents we can continue to shape the desirable behavior through encouragement and comments that acknowledge what is right about what they are doing, rather than criticism for what they are doing wrong. This supports the child’s initiative and deepens their innate desire to help out others in their family unit.
In our household my stepdaughters Serena, 8, and Ari, 6 in addition to picking up after themselves are given responsibilities that are reasonable for their ages. After dinner, the girls alternate on different days cleaning off the dishes and placing them in the dishwasher or vacuuming the dining room. Another responsibility is on Mondays to collect the trash from around the house and put it in the larger trash bin in the kitchen. Although when these were instituted there was some grumbling and complaining, now they do these chores as expected. We make occasional requests for them to do other chores and each girl generally cooperates in doing so.
Although the word “chores” can sometimes take on a heavier, more somber meaning and feeling, it can be reframed to mean an act of contribution and service such that any of us, adult or child, can view this kind of work within the family as a joy and a pleasure.
“We labor to make a house a home, then every time we’re expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.—Anonymous
“A family in harmony will prosper in everything.”—Chinese Proverb
Copyright, 2012, Dr. Steven D. Farmer, All Rights and International Rights Reserved
About The Author: Dr. Steven Farmer is the author of the several best-selling products including Children’s Spirit Animal Cards, Earth Magic, Animal Spirit Guides, Power Animals, Earth Magic Oracle Cards, Power Animal Oracle Cards, Messages from Your Animal Spirit Guides Oracle Cards, and Sacred Ceremony. He is a shamanic practitioner, ordained minister, hypnotherapist, former college professor and retired psychotherapist. Steven offers workshops and presentations on a variety of shamanic healing and earth-centered spirituality topics and also offers private shamanic healing and divination sessions. To learn more about his workshops or to contact him, please visit www.EarthMagic.net.