Chores allow children an early and sustained opportunity to experience responsibility. Independence and self-sufficiency in life are tied, ultimately, to mastery of two types of responsibility: personal and social responsibility.
The process of identifying, accepting and acting to satisfy personal and social responsibility must be learned, and children learn this process when their parents accept the responsibility of teaching it to them.
Most parents experience no difficulty in creating opportunities for the development of personal responsibility in their children. Beginning with toilet training, parents usually assign tasks to their children that allow them to progress toward independence, such as washing their own faces, brushing their own teeth, dressing themselves, completing homework and attending school. For the most part, children have no difficulty acknowledging the existence of personal responsibilities and accept them readily.
Parents often experience greater difficulty in developing opportunities for their children to acquire a sense of social responsibility. Assigning household chores is a way for parents to teach children about social responsibility by employing the most fundamental and easily accessible unit of society: the family.
Unfortunately, chores are boring. After the novelty has worn off, many young children and most teenagers complain about having to complete them.
It is interesting that parents who would never think of relaxing the requirements of personal hygiene, homework and school attendance will frequently allow their children to avoid household chores.
It is difficult to say why many of today's parents have loosened their grip on such a readily available and effective teaching tool. Maybe they are unaware of the relationship of chores to the development of social responsibility. Maybe they don't see chores as a means of strengthening family ties. Maybe they are unaware of the critical role social responsibility will play in their child's teenage and adult life.