The other day, I was asked how I trained my daughters to be ladies and how I went about preparing them with the skills needed to be a wife.
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" ~Isaiah 28:10
In my opinion, there are two schools of thought in teaching children to work: One thought is that children should be allowed to be children, with no responsibilities and the other thought is that children are free labor and should do all of the work in the home. As with most things in life, I believe the middle of the road is the balance. I believe children should enjoy their childhood, but childhood is a time where attitudes toward work should be shaped and responsibility should be taught.
I found that my children were very willing helpers, as long as I worked with them, but things didn't go well, if they were left to carry the full responsibility alone. Therefore, I worked alongside my children.
I felt if they were old enough to dump the blocks out, they were old enough to help pick them up. As I began picking up blocks, I would invite the child to a race to see who could pick up the most blocks. It was not an option for the child to sit and watch me put the blocks away. Sometimes, I had to find really creative ways to encourage my helper, such as setting the timer for 3 minutes and seeing if we could beat the timer.
Starting at 15 months, my kids begged to help with the dishes. I'd pull up a chair and let them rinse the dishes. We sang, told stories, whatever it took to make sure we had "fun" doing the dishes. At about 4 or 5 years of age, each child was added to the kitchen chore rotation. We all had one chore that we completed after each meal and kept that chore for one month. We then rotated to the next chore on the list.
The kitchen chore rotation consisted of the following chores:
setting the table
clearing the table & loading the dishwasher
clearing the counters and sweeping the floor
unloading the dishwasher
Every morning we made our beds and picked up our bedrooms. I taught them to make the bed when they moved out of a crib into a twin bed. I talked them through each step as I worked on one side of the bed, while the child followed my example and oral instructions on the other side of the bed. "First let's pull up the sheet. Smooth all the wrinkles. Now let's pull up the blanket...." We always made sure to stop for a moment and enjoy how beautiful the room looked when we had finished. "Doesn't it make you feel so nice inside when the room is all picked up and tidy?"
My kids followed me around all day and I talked with them as I did all of my chores, explaining what I was doing and involving them in each activity as much as possible. When we went to the basement to do laundry, I explained how I sorted the loads, asking them to find all the "whites". They helped me separate the white pile from the denim pile, etc. We loaded the washer, they pushed the buttons, and "helped" in many ways.
Half an hour before Daddy came home we would pick up the house, making sure it was tidy. We talked of the importance of creating a pleasant atmosphere for daddy to come home to, sometimes listening to a message, lighting candles, preparing a special snack. When he arrived home, we would all sit and visit for about half an hour.
I found that keeping a good attitude about my housework was the best way to teach a positive attitude. There were days, when cheerful, immediate obedience didn't come naturally and on those days, I would note that I needed to have a training session to teach that attribute. Sometimes, all it took was singing, "Do Everything Without Complaining", Sometimes teasing them until they smiled and did the task at hand. Occasionally, they had a choice to either obey cheerfully and immediately or get a spanking. Nine times out of ten they would comply cheerfully.
We had our daily chores that kept the house tidy and then cleaned house on Friday. Again, I found that my kids loved to help. When they were 2 or 3, I taught them to dust. They absolutely loved doing it. I would hide pennies in the less conspicuous spots, that they might overlook, to make sure they remembered them. I'd tell them how many pennies I hid. If they were short a penny, they would have to look for the missing penny, and dust that bottom shelf they had overlooked. They would excitedly show and tell me where the pennies had been hiding.
As they got older I made lists for each room, starting at the doorway and working all the way around the room. I'd clean the room with them numerous times and then let them clean it on their own. We all took a room, sometimes two and worked until the house was clean. We normally turned on an interesting book on tape and listened as we worked. Sometimes we'd turn on a singing CD and sing at the top of our lungs.
There were times when I'd get behind on folding the laundry and we'd have a laundry folding party. Anna was an awesome story-teller and she'd make up a story and tell it while we folded.
It was always fun for the kids to learn to bake: We would bake cookies, bars, pies together numerous times, then I would give verbal assistance while they mainly did it themselves. Eventually, by age 7 or 8, they could follow the recipe alone. We followed the same procedure for learning to cook a meal. We worked together and eventually they made it alone.
Around ten, when they were pretty capable in the kitchen, I began more serious cooking instructions. Once a week, they would make a complete meal on their own.
I taught them to make a menu, writing down each food that we needed to purchase from the grocery store. I would then give them a set amount of money and have them do the grocery shopping for a two week period. I didn't do this often, but enough that I was certain they knew how to shop for the best quality at the lowest price and that they knew how to stay within the budgeted parameter.
They began learning to sew at about 10 as well. Again, I always worked right alongside them, demonstrating and instructing as we went, until I worked myself right out of a job!
We did the same with gardening and canning. We started the seeds inside. We all took a tray and planted seeds. We planted the garden together and had many weeding sessions. Again, we'd sing or tell stories as we endured the hot sun and bugs. We harvested the garden the same way. We'd all pick a row of beans, then we'd snap them together, fill the jars and can them.
We allowed our kids to have 30 minutes of computer time each day, but only after reading their Bible, praying, completing all of their chores and their school work.
In Jewish homes, children were completely trained in running a house-hold by the time they were 13. That was my goal. Training my children in each task was pretty much completed by the time they were 13. Part of their high school requirement was running the house-hold for a 3 month period. We all cleaned the house together on Friday, but they did the day to day management, meal planning and prep, laundry etc. themselves. That way I knew they were ready to run their own homes.
I never asked them to do anything that I had not taken the time to train them to do.
As teens, our children had many opportunities to work for other people. We taught them the importance of tithing 10%, saving 10%, and budgeting the rest. They had savings and checking accounts. I also, had them make a hypothetical budget for their future family.
As the need arose, I would have them occasionally pay the monthly bills. Basically, anything that I do as a wife and mother, I tried to make sure that I taught them how to do it.
We talked frequently of the Biblical roles of men and women, and how important it is to follow God's design for the family. We discussed how to raise and train children. They were fortunate to hear many women ask questions, and observe both positive and negative examples in wives and mothers. We had daily devotions each morning before school and then with Dad each evening. Many of our morning devotions consisted of character training and/or message/Biblical teaching regarding the family.
One thing that really helped keep my priorities straight, was the fact that I truly sought the Lord to find out what His will was for my life when I was 16 years old. As I listened to the message, "Thirsting For Life" (60-0304), God gave me a personal revelation, that I was to be a helpmeet and I was to raise children for the Lord. Someday I will have to give an answer to God for how I raise my children and for the kind of wife I am. I take that very seriously.
In my experience, I've found that God has the answer to every question we have regarding training our children. What worked for our family may not work for your family. Seek the Lord for direction and He will show you what to do in each circumstance.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." ~James 1:5
Some of the books/programs that I found helpful:
Keepers of the Faith http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/category/KeepersAtHomeIndex
For Instruction in Righteousness
Polished Cornerstones http://www.doorposts.com/category.aspx?id=22a
Created to be His Helpmeet http://www.amazon.com/Created-Be-His-Help-Meet-ebook/dp/B0041D83VU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1461675809&sr=8-2&keywords=created+to+be+his+helpmeet
Marriage, Courtship & Dating by Paul Derkson pdd@SaskTel.net