Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Tasty Tuesday - Kids In The Kitchen, Part 4
Today concludes our series on Kids in the Kitchen. Thanks to all of you who have given suggestions for ways kids can help out in the kitchen! I could not have written the series without you! :)
The topic today is supposed to be "How Teens Can Help In The Kitchen" and I'd like to propose what may be a somewhat new idea to some of you.
I have been reading the book Do Hard Things and recently learned that the word "teenager" did not even exist until it was printed in a Reader's Digest article in 1914. The stages of life used to be 1) child and 2) adult. For some reason, we have added this category of "teenager" in the middle. Children used to reach adulthood around age 12-14, at which point they were old enough to (and typically expected to) begin a career, get married, and start a family. While I'm not proposing we lower the legal marriage age to 12, I do think there are some good points to draw from this.
Teens are often looked upon as lazy and rebellious. But why is that? Could it be that we have, in fact, caused them to be so lazy by lowering the standards? Do parents today expect their 15 year olds to help with dinner each night, do their own laundry, and care for their younger siblings while Mom and Dad are busy? Most parents don't. Is that because they don't think their teen is capable of doing those things? Probably not. They just know that, since their 15 year old is a teen, they would whine and complain and very grudgingly do all of those things...if they did them at all.
But what if, while the children were still young, the parents planned to set high expectations for their teens - much higher than those set by the culture around them? What if children knew what was expected of them and were heartily encouraged to do those things? Teens want to be challenged. And, if given the opportunity, most will rise to a challenge set in front of them.
Don't assume that just because you have teenagers in the house, they are going to be lazy. Tell them what you expect of them and don't lower the bar if they don't perform immediately. The "rebellious" part might kick in because of the way our society has handled these teen years for almost a century now. Your teen may say it's unfair or stupid that they are being asked to do such "impossible" tasks. But I will argue that, while saying these things to you outwardly, your teen will likely be inwardly thanking you for giving them a challenge instead of just letting them slide by in their laziness. And if not now, they will certainly thank you later for teaching them to be a responsible, well-balanced adult!
If you've made it this far, you're no doubt wondering where my list of ideas is for ways your teens can help around the kitchen. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but...there is no list. Teens are fully capable of doing everything you do around the kitchen - taking out the trash, making dinner, doing dishes, setting and clearing the table, sweeping and mopping the floor....even buying and putting away the groceries.
So give your teens some responsibility! Break society's mold of the lazy and rebellious teen and teach your teen how to be an adult instead of a video-game-playing, time-wasting, junk-food-eating child!
Other parts of this series: