“Familywork in Modern Times” Part 4


My husband gave me great feedback. He told me my posts are too long and so I am condensing the rest of the article and including the link so you can read the whole article if you want to. (This is not my family, below, but a terrific picture!) This is a continuation of an article called “Family work”,  published by Kathleen Slaugh Bahr and Cheri A. Loveless in Byu Magazine Spring, 2000.



 “Family Work in Modern Times”

The reality is, most fathers work away from home—most children are at school and are very busy after. We can’t go back to pre-industrial society where every hand was on deck to till the soil, and do all of our Familywork without the benefit of modern technology. The authors state that while life has changed, work is still a necessity to instill grit and values and bonding with your family.

Some of their suggestions for successful Familywork  ideas are:

  • You can have a garden as we have been asked to by past and present prophets.
  • Our children will pick up our attitudes about work good or bad. So be very mindful when you are working together how important your attitude and actions are.
  • Examine how you will use all of our modern technology. Pick and choose what works for your family. For example, the authors used a dishwasher as something you may think about doing without and  instead doing your dishes by hand. I love my dishwasher!  For me, one  example is  my  love of homemade peaches and jams. It is  is worth all of the extra work for me, because I value more than just the food on the shelf. I love the process of doing it as a family. I realize not everyone feels that way.
  • Resist the temptation to do the work without your children helping or making them  autonomous with their work. The whole point of this article was how working together as a family  strengthens the family. It is the  focus and bonding in relationships within the family.  “When we structure work this way, we may shortchange ourselves by minimizing the potential for growing together that comes from doing the work for and with each other.”

The  paragraph below  from the essay adds an extra emphasis on how important it is working together.

“Canadian scholars Joan Grusec and Lorenzo Cohen, along with Australian Jacqueline Goodnow, compared children who did “self-care tasks” such as cleaning up their own rooms or doing their own laundry, with children who participated in “family-care tasks” such as setting the table or cleaning up a space that is shared with others. They found that it is the work one does “for others” that leads to the development of concern for others, while “work that focuses on what is one’s ‘own,’” does not. Other studies have also reported a positive link between household work and observed actions of helpfulness toward others. In one international study, African children who did “predominantly family-care tasks [such as] fetching wood or water, looking after siblings, running errands for parents” showed a high degree of helpfulness while “children in the Northeast United States, whose primary task in the household was to clean their own room, were the least helpful of all the children in the six cultures that were studied.”8

Other Cautions about Familywork:

  • The authors say to avoid using “workplace” skills at the same time you are doing Familywork. Examples given were being careful with  “over organiz(ing)” and thinking that children  are like employees that  won’t participate with Familywork unless they are “motivated, supervised, and even paid.”
  • You can’t manage from a distance.  Don’t assign your children to do work alone, work alongside them. Instead, “Rather, family work should be directed with the wisdom of a mentor who knows intimately both the task and the student, who appreciates both the limits and the possibilities of any given moment. “
  • Sometimes we can speak out of both sides of our mouth and make things fun and a game and then get upset when they won’t stay on task.
  • Another caution is to pay children for Familywork efforts, which was mentioned above.  “According to financial writer Grace Weinstein, “Unless you want your children to think of you as an employer and of themselves not as family members but as employees, you should think long and hard about introducing money as a motivational force. Money distorts family feeling and weakens the members’ mutual support.”9

We have worked together as a family for many years since I heard Kathryn Slaugh  Bauer speak at Education week. She changed my life! She helped me realize the value of the real purpose of work around the house that was being minimized by our American culture. I did pay my children when they wanted to do extra work around the house, but they were not paid for their daily chores and the Familywork we did together. I do advocate for some jobs being  done by themselves. It was balanced at our house with plenty of Familywork together.

Next Post:  “To bring Again Zion”  the last part of the article  by Kathleen Slaugh Bahr and Cheri A. Loveless in Byu Magazine Spring, 2000.

8. Joan E. Grusec, Jacqueline J. Goodnow, and Lorenzo Cohen, “Household Work and the Development of Concern for Others,” Developmental Psychology, vol. 32, no. 6 (1996), pp. 999–1007.

9. Grace W. Weinstein, “Money Games Parents Play,” Redbook, August 1985, p. 107, taken from her book Children and Money: A Parents’ Guide (New York: New American Library, 1985).

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