Q: The pace of life has hit high gear with school now in full swing. With the kids' endless activities and homework requirements, I sometimes wonder if they should have the added burden of doing chores. What do you think?
Jim: My own feeling is that children ought to perform certain tasks around the house simply because they are part of the family. Yes, it's important for families to prioritize and manage schedules so that life isn't harried and out of balance for kids or their parents. But depriving children of the opportunity to grow through domestic contributions isn't the best place to cut corners.
Unfortunately, some parents decide it's easier to do the work themselves. That's especially true if the kids are uncooperative, and getting them involved becomes a chore all its own. My wife and I have had moments ourselves when we've wondered if it was worth all the trouble -- but we never entertain the idea for long. As parents of two young, maturing boys, we've realized that household chores represent some of the most significant opportunities to prepare them for adulthood.
For younger kids, simple tasks like picking up toys or making the bed can be an ideal way to build self-confidence. When a toddler successfully completes small jobs they're given, they feel good about themselves, and they'll want to take on even bigger challenges. That's a quality they'll need as they move through their elementary school years.
If you have an older child, you've probably encountered a different scenario. As children enter adolescence, helping Mom and Dad around the house loses its luster. Nevertheless, parents shouldn't give in to complaining too quickly. Emptying a dishwasher may seem insignificant, but even mundane tasks can help teens develop the maturity they'll need as adults to do what needs to be done.
Q: I want to be able to allow my adolescent children to watch movies other than just G-rated fare. But it seems like most of what's out there is full of language that I don't want my kids adopting as part of their lexicon or viewing as acceptable. What's your opinion regarding whether to permit teens to view a film that contains swear words, and how should I approach this with my kids?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged-In: My book, "Plugged-In Parenting," explores this challenge in greater detail than space permits here. It's a tough question, and I'm certain my answer will be controversial among caring parents. That said, my decisions with my own kids were guided by two thoughts that you may want to keep in mind: 1) not every profanity is equally offensive, and 2) films that contain unsavory language can still be worthwhile and redeeming overall.
Consider the film "Akeelah and the Bee," an inspirational story about a young girl who overcomes great odds to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. While I wish the film were totally free of profanity, it does contain one s-word. Personally, I'd let my children 12 or older see "Akeelah" and similarly uplifting motion pictures. Of course, I'd feel quite different if the same film contained a couple of f-bombs and/or misused God's name. But in my opinion, most teenagers can navigate through an occasional mild profanity -- even an s-word -- in entertainment without it becoming a stumbling block.
Ultimately, the best solution is to watch or stream films that have been edited for family viewing by such companies as ClearPlay.com. This eliminates seeing most movies in a theater, but considering how quickly films wind up on DVD, for most movies it seems worth the wait.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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