As parents, it is hard for us to see our kids unhappy, but we are unwise if we let this dictate how we raise them. A trait that I see too often in parents is they underestimate how much their children are capable of doing in terms of work (cleaning their rooms, doing dishes, scrubbing toilets, making beds, cleaning out cupboards, taking care of animals, etc). They imagine that they see “the strain in their little one’s face” and they “just know little Hannah could not manage any more,” and so they clean up the toys for her. It always makes me cringe, because it is obvious that the kids are learning a lesson on how to get somebody else to do stuff that they don’t feel like doing. Parents also seem to overestimate their child’s virtue: “My child would never steal, lie, treat other children badly, look at pornography, act out inappropriately, etc.” But that is another subject for another day.

So are your children learning to be hard workers? Or are they learning to live an easy life? There is an easy test to see where your kids land on the Lazy Meter. You can gauge an awful lot by what they expect and whether or not they are thankful for what they have. If you told your sleepy children to walk up the stairs and put their own selves to bed, would they cry and whine? Why do they cry? It is because they expect you to do it for them. Do they cry when you tell them to clean their room? It’s because they don’t expect they should have to. Do they whine when you tell them they can’t play on the slide? Then they have a worldview that expects to get what they want when they want it. Do they complain when you give them green beans? An unthankful child expects something better. Train them now, while they are young. I know you’ve met ungrateful, complainey, whiney, expectant adults, and they are never pretty. They expect you to go out of your way to make their life easier somehow. These adults were probably children of parents who “just wanted a sweet easy life” for their little pookie-pie-honey-melon. It’s an easy trap to fall in to, but it is the child who suffers. May we teach our children wisely while we have the time. 

Jenefer Igarashi is married to Geoff the Great and homeschools her six children (ages 4–19) near the Smoky Mountains in East TN. Visit Jen at her blog,

This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more great homeschool help, download our FREE report—The Secret to Homeschooling Freedom! Click here to download: