Monday, August 10, 2009

teaching a child in the way he should go

Thank you all for interesting and encouraging comments of last week. As is so often the case, I didn't set out to write anything in particular on Friday, other than Something more interesting than, we all ate breakfast and worked and worked all day until we fell into bed.

One comment in particular from an entirely different thread I thought I would pick up in a whole post. Otherwise today would just be Another weekend in review (like the fact that Gladys got into my very precious tin of Nivea cream and rubbed it all over her face and through her hair, using the Entire tin. She smells so pretty. And that we discovered a bat in the kitchen, the second one in the church in two weeks, and carefully deposited him outside, half the congregation making frequent trips outside over the course of the morning to see how he was getting on. And that we were reminded that our wedding anniversary is this week, so we unearthed and watched out wedding video again which was just as wonderful as when I saw it 7 years ago.)

Anyway, I'm grateful to this commenter's invitation to express more of an opinion, just want the internet needs.
“But meanwhile I'm glorying in the satisfaction of having so many useful and obedient children. “
I usually love reading your blog, Anne, but I was struck by the above words. I just hope your children have time to be, well, children.

This was a very helpful thought because I have been worried, of late, that All We Do Is Play. Its like a carnival circus around here most of the time, as far as I can make out. Of course, we haven't officially started school yet, but even then, as hard as I try to make us all serious, Everything seems to turn into a game. This is unfortunate for me, as their mother because I've always really disliked playing games of any kind. I'm getting over it, slowly. Particularly, I've discovered that cleaning should always be in a race against each other. We each get a room, whoever finishes first wins, except that I always have two or three rooms and so its Not Fair, heh, and I never win. Which is why I hate playing games.

The commenter goes on.
I think, when I was growing up, my chores were age appropriate. I did not start doing laundry until I was in high school, and I certainly did not feed everyone breakfast, empty the dishwasher, or clean the kitty box at such a young age. I just wonder if you truly know how odd it is to see written 'useful' and 'obedient' used when describing one's children. It's not the first words I would want to use to describe my children, or how I think of them. However, I may be interpreting your words in the wrong way. But I might use those ajdectives to describe my housekeeper (if I had one), but I'm not so sure I'd use them when it comes to my children.

My thought on this matter is guided by three different sources.
First, my parents would never have bought into this idea. I grew up with the understanding that I had been born to do dishes. That was the purpose of my existence. Naturally all this dishwashing developed into being able to cook really very well by the time I was in high school and college. I can't tell you how many people have appreciated this gift and skill over the years, not least of all my husband and children.

Second, as I've said before, Matt and I read very early on Standing on the Promises by Doug Wilson which has revolutionized our home life. Basic principles that we have incorporated from this book include 'delayed obedience is disobedience' and that really we have One main household rule. That rule is 'Honor and obey your Momma!'. If this wasn't firmly fixed in place, we would not be able to homeschool and I would be tired all the time. Respectful obedient children are happy children. They don't have to organize your life and their days and so they have time to play and think and learn without worrying about who is in charge and what should happen next. This is really the opposite of what we learned in seminary (why there was any parenting advice in an Episcopal Seminary, I don't remember). There we learned that 'the child's word to you is no'. HAHAHAHA. Au contraire. The child's word to me is 'Yes Momma, Right away Momma'.

And third, on the matter of work and school, we have been guided by a wonderful website called Trivium Pursuits. Here is what they say about the work of the child. I've bolded my favorite bits, but the whole long quote is really critical to the way we organize our house.
Develop in your child a love for work and service. From the time a child is able to walk and talk he should be given regular chores to perform. We do not mean simply feeding the dog and making his bed. A five year old is quite capable of putting the dishes away and folding the laundry. A ten year old can prepare simple meals from start to finish. Children of all ages can clean and straighten the house. The mother should not be picking up things from off of the floor. Your goal should be that by the time a child is in his teens, he is able to take over the work of the household, from cooking to cleaning to caring for his younger brothers and sisters. This not only teaches them to appreciate work while removing some of the burden from the parents, but it is good training for when they have their own households.Do not do for your child what he can do for himself. We need to reject all of this popular "self-esteem" stuff. The world’s problems can be summarized in one simple expression: too much self-esteem. Too many people think they are too good for what they get in life. They think they deserve better. And among the things which foster such notions is parents fawning over their little children. For the first year of his life, you pretty much need to do everything for him. But after that, the situation should begin to change rapidly. He can learn to do many things for himself in the next couple of years. He can clean up his own messes. An important corollary to this is: Do not do for yourself what your child can do for you. Your child needs to esteem himself lower than others, beginning with his parents. He can gather the clothes for laundry, and he can fold the laundry. Then he can do the laundry. He can set the table and wash the dishes. Then he can help fix the meals. He can vacuum the floor and dust the furniture. Then he can wash the windows. If you do all of this for him, then he will get a notion of self-esteem: "I am so important everyone ought to do things for me." But if he learns to do it for himself, then he will get a notion of self-confidence: "I can do it myself." And if he learns to do it for you, then he will get a notion of self-usefulness: "I can be helpful and I am needed around here."

Wonderfully, this understanding of the child is very like that articulated by Maria Montessori and Sophia Cavaletti. In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the work of the child and the work of the hands is the center of atrium life. The children don't 'play' with the beautiful materials, they work with them. The work is the critical element in internalizing the gospel. Likewise in the home. We were created by God to work and that is where we will find personal satisfaction, where we best glorify God, and are best made into the image and likeness of his Son.

And finally, the commenter writes
I'm just wondering if Father Matt might help out with some of those chores, or maybe he does???

I've said this many times on this blog, but Matt bears an incredible burden of household work. He does half the cooking, all the vacuuming, all the laundry, and up to this point, all the kitty litter. He takes the garbage out (a HUGE job) and keeps the household finances, as well as pastoring a growing church in the midst of a storm. My personal goal is to have him do as little around the house as possible which I fail at every day. That is why the two oldest are learning to do some of his work, as well as mine. At this age, amazingly, they love it. Every morning there is a fight over who gets to do the kitty litter and who gets to do the dishwasher. I know this attitude will not always persist, but I'm enjoying it for now, and looking forward to the day when they can manage this house as well, or better, than we their parents do.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anne, As someone who is old enough to be on Medicare I remember when families had more than 1-2 kids and everyone pitched in and did what they were told to. Chores were something we just did and didn't think of whining about them. Maybe a larger family makes this possible but I think it also is a function of a family that takes christianity seriously as part of their everyday life in all that they do.
Art+

Camille said...

I admire what you are doing and how you and Matt raise your children. Reminds me of the verse: “Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves” (Proverbs 19:18 TEV) Love you Anne!

quirkyskittle said...

On a completely different note, Dave Barry once wrote that when his wife came running one night and told him, obviously freaked out, "There's a bat in the kitchen!", a snappy comeback, though he didn't say it at the time, would have been to say, "No, thanks! I already ate!"

Your bat problem flashed me back to that, which is why I'm now gumming up your brain with it. You're welcome!

betsy said...

Work is not punishment - we humans were made to work - Adam worked in the Garden of Eden PRE-FALL. The delight of bringing cosmos out of chaos is the joy of creation and one way in which we humans 'image' God our Father and Creator, I believe. Teaching our children to works helps them to harness the power of their will, gives them a sense of choice and ability, helps to develop their sense of self and their "I" (as in: "I can, I will,I choose to do XXXX.") And this leads them to the ability to knowingly chose God and thence to the fruit of self-control, etc. This is the path of freedom and peace, ultimately. Only when we can truly say 'no', can we truly say 'yes'. Maybe I'm getting carried away here, but as a Cxn psychologist, I see so many adult folks who are struggling to develop this self-knowledge that is more easily grown as children. All this to say:
Anne! go YOU!

AmmaKate said...

Anne+, you and Matt+ are precious!! And so are your children. As the parents of 6 adult sons, 5 daughters-in-laws and 8 grandchildren, I know a semi-organized, chaotic, wonderful, holy, loud, sacred, and wonderful home.
You have one.
Blessings,
k+

Miss Sippi said...

My mother grew up in the Depression, and had a mother who was often ill. By age ten or so she was capable of cleaning a house and preparing a meal for their family of eight. All the children worked in the garden, as well as helping with or doing most of the other work. She loves to work, so much that she did everything herself when I was growing up and I never learned the lessons she did. So beware, you may be setting yourself up for lazy grandchildren!

Geri said...

Anne, your take on childrearing is much better for the children than Bette's. A child who has been waited on hand and foot all of his life does not make good wife or husband material much less parental. Your home sounds like a healthy happy place for the whole family. Quit feeling guilty for Fr. Matt's help. He provided half the DNA for his children. He is just as responsible as you for providing a safe and clean environment in which to rear them. You are very busy being pregnant and breastfeeding. You might ought to figure out how many months of your married life you have spent pregnant or nursing. Maybe then you will quit feeling guilty for using the children's father's help. You didn't get pregnant alone.

In the future ignore comments like Bette's. She built a mountain out of a molehill. Shades of EK.

Anne Kennedy said...

Thanks for all the fabulous comments! Its so gratifying that you all agree with me.

On the subject of Matt doing work, I don't want anyone to think he complains about it--I've never actually asked him to help around the house. He has taken up various domains of work on his own. I just wish I could do more because I hate to see him come in, tired from, say, vestry, and then wade through a pile of laundry. But, of course, I'm not rushing down to do it myself, I'm just waiting for the moment when his lovely helpful children will do it for him (and me).

Jessica said...

I don't think it's "odd" to be able to think of one's children as useful and obedient - I think it's delightful.

And, as someone who used to be a child myself, I am SO GLAD my parents taught me how to work. With four under five, I work harder now than I've ever worked before, and I know that I wouldn't have a clue how to work at this level if I hadn't learned how to work as a child. I feel like I'd be completely unfit for my current calling if I hadn't had that childhood training.

I too existed to do the dishes. :)

mcyoder said...

Anne,
I own a company that provides services including residential services to developmentally disabled adults. First, our goal with our clients is to teach them to be as independent as possible. I think should be a goal of rearing our children as well. Teaching children to work is part of that. Second, I'm now seeing a employees who are 20 somethings who have never learned how to work. They don't know how to do laundry,to properly clean a house, to to fix a simple meal, to budget their money. These are people with college degrees. It is very scary. When I feel like I'm being the least bit hard on my ten year old by making him work, I remember these 20 somethings and soldier on. By the way, I was born to do dishes as well.

Kerry said...

Hi, Anne! I agree with you about involving children in the work of the household. My children aren't always willing helpers, but they know they are expected to do their share of household work. In general, they are helpful and hardworking. Now that our eldest is 13 he's even helping with cutting the grass. His dad is so appreciative!

Perhaps the reaction the commentor had was to the use of the word "useful" in relation to children. I suspect you meant "hardworking" and "making good use of themselves", but what the commentor read was "able to be used", like a tool. We'd all object to *that* idea of children being useful.

While we were in Ghana, we had a conversation with a very left-leaning aquaintance. We talked about how much our children help around the house and she commented that she really preferred her children to "have their childhoods". I guess we different ideas about that. LOL! She didn't seem to convinced when I explained that the kids gain so much by learning a solid work ethic at a young age. I thought that was sad.

punctuation without capitalization said...

just want to add that i've spent lots of time in the kennedy household. the kids play AS much (if not more) as they work. AND they're obedient. AND they are becoming "useful" inasmuch as they are beginning to contribute in meaningful ways to the general well-being of the house.

incidentally...matt also does tons of cooking. and cleaning. and pastoring.

overall, i have pretty much never ceased to be impressed with matt & anne's parenting. for having so many kids, they do a pretty phenomenal job not only of keeping order but also nurturing their children.

Joyce Carlson said...

Really? You grew up with the understanding that you were born to do dishes and that was the reason for your existence? Surely you exaggerate. Hey, I can think of a couple other reasons right off the top of my head. Let's see....
ME (Hehheh)
p.s. I hope you haven't stopped praying for me today. I'm still mashing wads of gauze in my mouth where an evil tooth was extracted this morning, and I've been told to sleep sitting up, so shall I read a Harlequin novel to get myself to sleep, or some difficult, religious essay?

Phil said...

Anne, I agree with you completely. Obedience is something we all need to learn, not only to live in this world without going insane, but because it's important for our faith. If we will decide whether or not we are to obey others as appropriate, we will carry the same attitude into our relationship with God and thereby become cafeteria Christians, which too often evolves into "no Christian." And, there is no other place children will learn this than from their parents.

It sounds like you're doing a better job winning that battle with your kids than I am with mine so far!

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I think it is incredibly important to learn to work at a young age. My siblings and I had regular chores throughout the year, and in the summer we had 3-4 hours of hard manual labor around the property (5 acres) each day. Did we always love it? No, but I am so glad, in retrospect, that I learned how to work.

A child who doesn't learn to work is going to be awfully surprised when he grows up - my word, suddenly people expect things of him! :)

Anonymous said...

I, too, had been struck by the previous post, and especially the term "useful." Your current post is very helpful in elaborating on what you meant.

I do agree with, Bette, however, that household chores should be age appropriate. Cleaning kitty litter needs to be done with care, even by adults. The risk of toxoplasmosis -- especially as you are currently pregnant -- is a real one and children of 6 or 7 years of age may not be as inclined to wash up properly after such a task. That one task might be best left to them when they are older.

I don't think Bette was suggesting that children have no chores at all, just that they be age appropriate. Chores are, indeed, important learning tools and I would argue actually help create the self-esteem that you apparently eschew. There's nothing wrong with self-esteem, and in fact a child needs a healthy dose of it to survive in this world! Perhaps you are speaking more of self-importance, and the inflated egos that can arise from overly-permissive parenting?

As a fairly regular reader of your blog, I also must note that one of your tendencies is to expound upon the help your children are giving you. Nothing is wrong with that, as I understand you are proud of your children. But when time for loving quiet time or play is not discussed as much, it may appear that there is an imbalance in the household. Obviously, no one can blog about every single thing in their lives, and we tend to note only what stands out in our lives. However, Bette is not the only one who has gotten the impression that there is more work than play, simply because of the subjects upon which you choose to elaborate. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it creates a certain picture in one's mind.

We all (including myself) must remember that blogland only gives us a tiny slice of a person's life, a little taste, and is nowhere near the whole story of any one person or family. We should both be careful about the portrait we paint of ourselves, and also take care when making assumptions about another blogger, as we never truly have the whole picture in our view.

Peace,

Noni

mcyoder said...

Noni,
I'm not sure if you're implying that there is a risk to Anne because her children may not wash up properly after taking care of the cat litter or if there is risk to the children because they are doing the task. If it is the latter, please see http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/parasitic/toxoplasmosis.html# or the CDC fact sheet. There is virtually no risk to an otherwise healthy child. My 10 yo son has been doing the litter box for about 2 years now so he was a little older than Anne's kids. He wanted more cats so I put him in charge of the litter box and feeding the cats. If you're concerned about the children not washing and then touching Anne, she's a well educated adult on her third pregnancy-I'm pretty sure she would make sure they did so.
Also, regarding the whole self-esteem issue. I think self-confidence is a better word to use, and I don't think Anne has a problem with children developing that at all. I do think a lot of things are done in the name of improving self-esteem in children which only increase self-importance. I grew up seeing a little psa on Saturday morning cartoons that had a little jingle that said, "The most important person in the whole wide world is you and nobody else but you." Fortunately, I had a Dad with a lot of common sense and was taught both by word and deed that I am not the most important person in the world. So that little jingle did not affect me, but I'm pretty sure by the state of our culture that it and thoses ideas affected many others.

mcyoder said...

I need to correct my above post. I google the jingle and it was "The most important person in the whole wide world is you and you hardly even know you." Still drivel which would have the same effect but not quite the same as what I quoted. It's been about 30 years since I last heard it so....

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that my simple questions would cause such a stir.

I never posted that I don't have my children help with chores, etc., but, all of a sudden, my parenting style is defined for me, though I have not even uttered what my 'parenting style' is at this juncture.

My point was to ask a viable question about what you meant, Anne, with your comments, and you have answered those questions.

I was raised in a very religious home, and we had age appropriate chores. But I was not cleaning out the cat box when I was 5 or 6, nor was I making breakfast for the family. I probably would have hurt myself, in some way, trying to make breakfast at that age.

But that is me. It does not mean I was 'lazy' as a child or teenager, nor does it mean that my own children lack discipline.

My children learn about working for what you want in life. They are paid for all chores that they do. 1/3 of the pittance they receive goes to our church. The rest of the money goes in a coin bank, or they have the option to wantonly spend it, but once it is gone, that is it.

It's made them realize the value of a dollar, and they have freedom of choice to decide to be frugal with their money, or spend it all at once. It's up to them.

However, I don't think my parents referred to us as 'useful' or 'obedient' because it would have sounded as if we were machines, only born to do their bidding.

When I use adjectives to describe my children, I say things like "magical" "creative" "happy" "loving" "smart" "artistic."

Useful or obedient would not cross my mind, at first.

But I do thank you for explaining what you meant.

I think you are a wonderful parent, but sometimes when I read your blog, I must admit that I worry about you being so tired, and I get concerned that you are overwhelmed with parenthood at this point.

I mean that. No, I am not EK. Far from it.

Congratulations on your anniversary, and I am so glad that DH helps you the way that he does.

I apologize if my words came across in a bad way. It was not my intention at all.

Bette

joie said...

Anne-

I will get the negative out of the way first. You and I went to the same seminary only a few years apart. I was NEVER taught there that we should accept "no" from a child. Before seminary, I held a teacher's certificate and almost a M. Ed. in Special Education. It is part of normal development for a child to say "no" as a way to begin the necessary process of self-differentiating from the parents. This happens when they are toddlers and certainly again at puberty. Maybe even in between. Can't remember that far back. I remember at seminary we were told it was part of normal development but never that parents, teachers, clergy should accept a child saying he or she wouldn't do such and such.

And now for the positive. You are right. Children can work and learn much by working. Children can and should also be well-behaved. Then there is my son who ran up to the credence table, took the bread, and broke it in front of the congregation before my husband or I could catch him (and yes, I am the priest). He is, like all of us, a work in progress. Children will even be happier when taught how to behave. My son is about to enter a Montessori school because he needs so many things that it offers, including routine and discipline. He is also advanced and so needs to ability to work ahead and he's artistic and they have a dedicated art teacher. Not many pre-schools have that. At this particular school, they begin the day with regular chores and then head to circle and music time. The kids LOVE IT! They get to tend the tomatoes and peonies, mulch the flower beds, bake cakes, cookies, and non-sweets, clean up their messes, fold their hand towels, etc. They gather and sort the recycling, etc. and to them it is both play and work. Work does not have to be drudgery --- unless it's the laundry and then I don't want to do it, either ;-)

Hmm, did you mean self-esteem or maybe self-centered? Just asking.

You and I would not agree on many things right now but it sounds like your children are pretty happy and healthy. As they get older, would you consider public or private school? Just curious.

Anne Kennedy said...

Joie,
If we were several years apart in seminary, it is doubtful that we would have taken the same class. Whether or not a child saying 'no' is developmentally determined (and certainly it is), the spiritual implications of allowing a child to continue in defiance towards their parents is terribly serious. First of all, children are commanded to be obedient and honoring toward their parents in scripture. And second of all, a child that never learns to say yes to his parents will have a harder time saying yes to God. And third, life is completely impossible with a child that is allowed always to say no and never required to say yes. I'm sure I'm not saying anything you don't already know.

As for the term 'self-esteem', it was part of the lengthy quote, and one that I agree with. It is so rare to find a human being who really has too much humility, and not enough pride. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head who has this problem. Even insecurity, ultimately, can be traced to pride. Useful obedient service of the family and church builds confidence, outward focus, and love, all which make a relationship with God himself, easier. But I know this way of speaking of the child is culturally dated. We like rather to think of our children as bright and creative, as Bette has said (not to disagree with her at all). My children are bright and creative but that, for me, makes a boring blog. I don't like reading other people's blogs where they tell me how lovely their children are. I try to keep the gushing out of my blog and fail every day. Its impossible not to gush a little, particularly when my children say ridiculous and interesting things or impress me with their fabulous dishwashing capabilities. That's one reason why I'm homeschooling. I hate missing anything that they are learning or doing. This time is so brief, I hate to give it away to anyone else.

As for if we'll ever put them in a public or private school, its my dream to start a Classical School. Some day. In my spare time. Ha.

I'm going on too long, but I wanted to say one more thing about work being age appropriate. I cant' remember who brought this up. One thing I love about Classical Education, and about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as well, is the high expectations both have of the child. Children can generally do a lot more than we give them credit for. A four year old can memorize the timeline of world history, can learn the basics of drawing and music, can have a deep abiding relationship with God. And he can make his own bed, pick up all his toys, and help clear the table.

Anonymous said...

"I'm going on too long, but I wanted to say one more thing about work being age appropriate. I cant' remember who brought this up. One thing I love about Classical Education, and about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as well, is the high expectations both have of the child. Children can generally do a lot more than we give them credit for. A four year old can memorize the timeline of world history, can learn the basics of drawing and music, can have a deep abiding relationship with God. And he can make his own bed, pick up all his toys, and help clear the table."

Yes, at the turn of the century, the Victorian way of viewing children, forced those said children into 'useful' and 'obedient' jobs at factories, at a very young age.

Some lost limbs; Some died; I hate to disagree with you, Anne, but giving children 'self esteem' does not mean you coddle them, or create little monsters, by praising them for who they are...not what they do FOR YOU.

This is not the late 1800s nor the early 1900s, and, though others may tiptoe around this with you, you are not the authority on raising children. You think that you are, but it's clear that you are not.

This idea that you have of getting rid of their egos and making them 'obedient,' really smacks of the sorts of mind control games that happen in cults. Remove all ego; No disobedience to commands...the list goes on.

A child needs a balance of discipline and carefree time to decide who they are, what makes them tick.

I'd like to see you blog in a few years, when your 'obedient' children hit their teens. Homeschooling them and keeping them away from the 'mean ole' evil world,' is only going to cripple them and make them very angry with you, when they grow up and find out that the 'mean ole' evil world' isn't that bad at all.

But, until then, maybe there's a coal miner's job available for your kids in West Virginia or something?

Maybe they can bring in extra money for the family???

Respectfully,
Sick of Feeling the 'undercurrent'

Anonymous said...

I think a good thing to keep in mind, is that "always" and "never" is an indicator of thinking that is far too black and white for raising children. Children taught to "always" obey an authority figure, to "always" say yes to mom and dad, may have difficulty later saying "no" if asked to submit to inappropriate or, God forbid, abusive behavior. Children must also be taught to think for themselves and to reason, so that they can also obey their own conscience when tested. There is a balance to be struck.

For instance, I was raised fairly strictly to always obey my parents. Much of my being as a child involved pleasing them. I was not allowed to say "no", and that also applied to other adults (as authority figures) in my life. I attended overnight camp as a child, which I loved. There was a camp photographer there one year who took photos of all the kids. A week or so after I got home, my mother had run out to the store. Being a fairly responsible 10 year old, I was left at home. (This was the late 70's and I think was done more then than most parents would allow nowadays.) This "photographer" called our house. He had gotten our information from the camp. He began to suggest that he wanted me to be a model, and he would take more photos of me. As you can imagine, the conversation went down a road no parent would want it to. Not so much that I was clued into the fact that this guy was a pedophile, mind you. I didn't even know about such things at that age.

He talked me into agreeing to pose for him. He was an adult, I knew him as an authority figure at the camp, and I was not about to say no to any adult. I had agreed to let him come pick me up AT MY HOUSE, when my mom arrived home. She asked who I was talking to and he hung up quickly.

It is difficult to teach children to be both obedient, and yet able to say "no" in a dangerous situation. I try to allow my own children a balance. I try to let them know when it is important that they mind me, and yet give them enough of their own decision-making to learn from their successes and failures.

While I agree with some of the parenting styles discussed in the post, I also worry that such an insistence on obedience can go too far and stifle a child's ability to doubt authority when needed. My husband and I try to strike that balance, and I hope we are doing a good job. I never EVER want one of my children to be in the position I was in at age 10, completely unable to say "no" to an adult, at a time what that was most needed.

Finally, of course I know about toxoplasmosis, or I would not have raised the concern. Young children can be careless, and my doctor's advice when I was pregnant was to use the utmost care around the cat boxes. My husband did the litter throughout my pregnancies, and we even took the extra care of having him wear rubber gloves. (This has held over as a good practice even after the birth of our children. Perhaps we're a bit overcautious, I don't know.) At 7, I it would seem more appropriate to help dry dishes, put them away, set the table, dust, keep kitty fed and watered, make their beds, clean their rooms, etc. I agree that even very young children are capable of handling chores, but do think when it comes to germs and animal feces, extra care should be taken. Just my $.02.

Noni

mcyoder said...

Sick of feeling the "undercurrent,"
Sounds like you have an "overcurrent of hostility." Does your computer have some function I'm not aware of that forces you to read this blog? If you have that much animosity toward Anne and her ideas about childrearing, perhaps you need to find another place to go. Or is leaving anonymous comments condemning people with vitriol just a little hobby?

Anne Kennedy said...

After many days of prayer, a computer that isn't working, and being too busy to reasonably blog, I only wanted to say, to anonymous, I find it demonstrates a troubling lack of perspective to liken training children to do a few household chores, teaching them new things in school, and taking them to Sunday School to forcing them to work in a factory where they will loose their limbs and lead a miserable life. Someone wise pointed out to me that to say 'I'll pray for you' on a blog, is just as patronizing as anything, so I'm not going to say it, but I am doing it.
And to Noni, thank you so much for your concern. We are being awfully careful about the cleanliness of our children and pets and house in general. I grew up in a place where not only was kitty litter a concern, but so were worms, scorpions, malaria, dysentery and every other disease imaginable. Please lay your mind to rest on that score, we are taking every precaution.
And to all of you others who have commented, thank you for an excellent discussion. This obviously is a hot button topic and I look forward to writing more about it in the future.

eulogos said...

I wrote about the basic topic in the orginal thread, right after Bette's topic...and managed to get in some bragging about my own compent children. (now grown up.)

I just wanted to say that a lot of the people here who are concerned that Anne's children are "too obedient" or are being kept away from the "mean ole evil world" just do not KNOW Anne's children.
I typically see them at church and after church. They have all the exuberant energy of happy children. They do run in the church hall. But, for instance, if one of them has started running toy cars off a table, so that they go flying onto the floor near people, and they are told to stop, they stop, without even sending that last car flying. Just for example. And they know not to run and make noise in the actual church. Matt and Anne can both be involved in leading a service, and her children will sit with other known adults in the congregation and not demand their parent's immediate attention. Matt can teach adult ed, and his small child will come up and stand quietly nearby, until the class is over, then come to be picked up. They can actually have more freedom because they can behave and aren't disruptive. They are happy and affectionate, and not one bit less creative because they are also "useful and obedient."

Susan Peterson

Anonymous said...

"I find it demonstrates a troubling lack of perspective to liken training children to do a few household chores, teaching them new things in school, and taking them to Sunday School to forcing them to work in a factory where they will loose their limbs and lead a miserable life."

Anne,

I said not one thing about taking your children to Sunday School, etc.

But when I read your musings about what your children can do for you and your husband, chore-wise, and all of your children are under the age of 9 or so and they are doing loads of laundry, fixing breakfast for the family, scooping the litter of of cat boxes, doing the dishes, it reads as if you truly believe the Victorian model of raising children.

Your children are as cute as they can be, and, by all appearances, wonderful kids.

But I disagree that children are put here to obey and to be raised as workhorses for their parents. Respect authority? Yes. Learn to pitch in with household work? Yes. Turning them into little work robots? No.

There is a huge difference with chores that are age appropriate, and with expecting your children to be your servants. That's what I got from your posts.

My apologies for the use of hyperbole concerning the coal miner's comment, but I used it to make a point.

I continue to pray for you too, Anne.

Dixie

Allison Elaine said...

Mother Anne,

It sounds as if your children are joyful and delightful and - like the children in Lake Wobegon - well above average in every way.

So this isn't a comment about your kids or the way you are rearing them.

When I read the statement "delayed obedience is disobedience", I thought of Jesus describing the son who said "yes" immediately, then did not work, and the son who said "no" and then did the work. And I thought of his story of the workers who come in the late afternoon being paid as well as those who came in the morning.

How does "delayed obedience is disobedience" relate to what Our Lord was saying?