Most Ridiculous Item of the Week: Someone recently asked me if I like children. I didn't say so, but the question is as ridiculous as "Do you like adults?" The fact is, I like children who are well behaved and mind their manners.
I like children who do not attract a lot of attention to themselves. I like children who do not interrupt conversations, do what they are told the first time they are told, entertain themselves, share freely, can take "No" for an answer, go to bed readily and stay there, eat what is put in front of them, are kind and patient with younger children and pets, understand that a rule on Monday is a rule on Tuesday as well, have a good sense of humor, shake hands with adults (as opposed to "high-fiving"), address adults formally (as opposed to using first names), don't ask for much, are curious and inquisitive, and don't give up if at first they don't succeed.
In other words, I like some children. Mind you, I don't necessarily dislike the rest; I just don't want to be around them for very long, especially if they're with their parents.
Next Most Ridiculous Item of the Week: Some time ago, I wrote a column in which I proposed that children should not be paid for doing their fair share of household chores. Some readers disagreed, saying that just as adults are paid for working, so should children.
Excuse me? Am I the only person in the world who has figured out that "family" is not just a collection of people, but a collection of people who operate according to certain principles, one of which is that household work is shared? And yes, adults get paid for working for employers, but the family is not an employer. Mom and Dad do not get paid for vacuuming, cooking, mowing the grass, doing laundry, and so on.
Furthermore, Mom and Dad pay the mortgage and all the other bills. What do children pay for? Nothing! They live on the dole. What, therefore, can they contribute to the welfare of the family? Work! And that work should be a contribution, period.
Once upon a time not so long ago, children had chores for which they were not paid. Those kids were not on entitlement programs within their families; therefore, they did not think they were entitled outside of their families. In today's family, the only people who act like they have obligations are the parents. Modern parents act like they're obligated to buy children what they want, take them where they want to go, do their homework for them, fix bad grades, and so on. Is it any wonder, then, that so many of today's kids think they are entitled to everything from good grades to being able to keep "their" rooms in whatever state of mess they can tolerate? Is it any wonder, then, that so many of today's kids act like their first and only allegiance is to themselves?
Anyway, I asked my readers what they thought of my opinion on paying for chores. Of 945 respondents, 902 agreed. The 43 "disagrees" included 20 from a third-grade class in Seattle, which only goes to show that being on an entitlement program for a long period of time -- 9 or 10 years in the case of a third grader -- is indeed a disincentive to work.
XJohn Rosemond is a family psychologist. Questions of general interest may be sent to him at Affirmative Parenting, 1020 East 86th Street, Suite 26B, Indianapolis, IN 46240 and at his Web site: http://www.rosemond.com/.