The Observer (UK) 15 November 2009
Children should be given chores to help them develop a caring attitude and keep them grounded, according to a survey that found parents are now reluctant to ask children to do household tasks. A study of the articles, advice and letters published in more than 300 parenting magazines between 1920 and 2006 has found that most modern-day children are only asked to take on trivial responsibilities, such as feeding a pet, clearing the table after dinner or tidying up after themselves.
“In earlier generations, children and adolescents were given meaningful opportunities to be responsible by contributing not only to their households but also to their larger communities,” said Markella Rutherford, assistant professor of sociology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and author of the new study, Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child Rearing Advice. “This was seen as especially important for adolescents,” she said. “Until very recently, greater autonomy and responsibility were emphasised as antidotes to teenage listlessness and rebellion.”