Instituting responsibilities within a home may not come naturally for parents. Children may act with resistance when presented with responsibilities, and parents may opt not to ‘burden’ their children with chores.
Many of us have been inundated with the idea that freedom from responsibility creates happiness. Advertisements tout the benefits of relaxation and leisure.
The idea that freedom from responsibility breeds happiness, has in, fact, done more harm than good.
This phenomenon has been observed on a societal level in China, where traditionally, authoritative parents instituted a sense of responsibility and feelings of warmth within families, creating positive familial relationships.
Authoritative parenting was traditionally associated with well-behaved and academically successful children. However, in more recent years, since China instituted a one child per family policy in 1979, parenting styles changed.
Parents began indulging their only child more than previous generations had done, focusing their energies exclusively on their one child and requiring less from him or her by way of household responsibilities.
Researchers now describes this younger, only child generation as more selfish, egoistic, and lacking gratitude than any generation prior.
While the Chinese government has gone so far as to institute educational programming about morality and respect, researchers are finding that the strongest predictor of respectful and well-adjusted children is an authoritative parenting style, and not the programs mandated by schools.
In 2015, the one child policy was eliminated.
Neurobiologists have discovered that adolescents who value their role as helpers within a family show greater brain activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
This region of the brain is directly involved in maintaining effortful control. Although at times the young people studied felt burdened by their responsibilities, they also exhibited greater levels of happiness and positivity on a daily basis, as well as an overall self-identification as “good” children.
This attests to the tremendous value that children receive from taking responsibility in the home.
As parents, it may be easy to fall into routines of caring for and even serving our children. Our children can quite capable when we provide them with opportunities.
We can do so with grace and a smile, modeling how that responsibility, is in fact, something to celebrate.