“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
Have you ever heard the following statements? “It’s not fair,” “It’s not my turn,” and “I set the table for three days in a row and (fill in the blank) hasn’t had to all week.”
My husband and I try to model certain behavior. We don’t keep score, we don’t divvy up jobs according to “husband/wife, boy/girl,” and we don’t split work 50/50. We do have our certain roles and specific areas of the house we’re usually in charge of so things continue to run smoothly, but if we see a job that needs to be done, even if it’s one we normally don’t do, we quietly take care of it.
Fairness in a family is an important concept to practice on a regular basis regarding physical and emotional needs. That is one way to ensure children grow up feeling valued, unique, and loved within the family unit. If one child gets a piece of cake, then all children should be allowed a piece of cake. If one child gets to have a special date with mom or dad, then the next time another child should be allowed that privilege. Within reason and according to age differences, children’s legitimate needs should be met equally.
However, that’s where equality should end and the concept of working together should begin. Working together for the greater good of the family as a whole is best accomplished when everyone in the family takes ownership for aspects they can developmentally handle. For instance, a child shouldn’t be in charge of the family finances, but upon returning home from a family outing, if one child discovers the trail of garbage throughout the kitchen thanks to Fido hunting down a snack, he can grab a broom or gloves and start picking up the mess instead of stepping over it because “mom or dad will clean it up.” If a sibling has a school project or after school job or sports event, then another sibling can pick up the slack and do her chores for her that night or several nights in a row. If mom or dad has spent the entire day chauffeuring the kids back and forth to various activities, then it’s realistic to assume the other parent can start dinner and the kids can take over cleanup.
When family becomes less about keeping score or one particular family member always getting out of helping out while everyone else works overtime and actively looks for ways to keep the household flowing smoothly, everyone wins. First, it pleases God when we take our responsibilities seriously and work as though we’re working for Him. Second, when going the extra mile is modeled on a consistent basis, it usually happens that others will join in. Third, messes that are taken care of right away usually don’t turn into major overhauls and it leaves extra time for having fun together, building memories instead of spending all day organizing and cleaning.
God didn’t design families to be sports teams. There are no MVPs in a family unit. When everyone adopts that mindset and works together, doing their best to please God, everyone wins.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014