Betsy Hart

Sure, I still find myself doing a certain amount of "finishing" work, and I continue to have my own jobs, too. But everything seems a little tidier now. The kids aren't quite as likely to throw clean clothes in a hamper just to get them off the floor. And occasionally I'll overhear one child, anticipating clean-up duty, say to another, "Pick that up now!"

Look, I realize none of this is really that impressive. Anybody who grew up on a farm, or like I did in a middle-class suburb, is probably thinking, "Big deal." They're probably also thinking, "You wrote a book on parenting, and you are just figuring all this out now?"

OK. OK. Sometimes I'm a bit slow. But I also find that some of my contemporaries are quite surprised _ shocked or envious, I can't always tell _ at the responsibilities my kids now have.

In any event, here's what I've found makes this work for my kids: Letting them value a job done well, or as well done as they can do it, and appreciating working together for a common good. Making clear to them that not having to hire the occasional cleaning service, or doing so only rarely, means there is extra spending money for allowances or a Saturday matinee for the family.

It also means mom is just. ... less stressed. And, boy, is there grace in that!

And it's funny; just like when I was a kid, I continue to find genuine satisfaction in scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor myself.


Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. Her column on cultural and family issues, “From the Hart,” is distributed each week to hundreds of newspapers cross the country. Betsy’s first book, "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting out Kids – and What to do About It," was released in September, 2005, and was a top seller for its publisher, Putnam Books.