I get it. You’ve tried EVERYTHING to get your lazy kids to help around the house. You want responsible kids who take initiative, work diligently, and help lighten the load. After all, you’re just one person and you can’t do it all!
My friend, I can so relate. In fact, every parent ever can relate to this struggle. We’ve all got lazy kids, just like you do. Welcome to the family.
Before we get to some practical help, let’s size up the problem. Our lazy kids aren’t exactly alike but see if you can relate to these “characters”…
The slamming door sends a bolt of disgust throughout the entire house and everyone knows. Mom must have asked Bad-attitude Bart to unload the dishwasher again. As he storms down the stairs, he will indeed do the chores Mom asks him to do, but not without making sure everyone in the house is well aware of how much he DOESN’T want to do them.
His sister, Complaining Claire, would never be so rude. She doesn’t slam things or stomp around. She is just “living a horrible life.” You’ll find her in the kitchen complaining about why everyone uses so many dishes on the days when SHE has to do them, but never on the days when Bart does.
Good Enough Gary doesn’t pout or puff. He does the task, but always leaves out just a few details, figuring it’s “good enough.” You’ll also find his folded towels still laying on the counter. I mean, you didn’t say to put them away too, did you?
Good Enough Gary and Sloppy Susan are twins. Where Gary does a job “most of the way,” Susan does it sloppily. She puts the towels away, but they are crammed into the closet. She will mop the floor, but misses several spots and forgets to put the mop bucket away.
Everyone thinks they are better than their brother Excuses Eric though. At least they actually DO what Mom asks them to do. Eric just looks for ways to get out of it. “I need to finish my math,” he reasons. “I did it last time” and “We don’t have enough soap” are two of his personal favorite excuses.
His sister Distracted Daisy would never make excuses when she’s busy; she just asks Mom to hold on. It’s true that she often gets so distracted with all the things she’s doing and never quite makes it in to do her chores, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Forgetful Frank has a good heart. He wants to be helpful, but it’s hard. He leaves his bike in the driveway, never remembers to do his laundry until he is out of underwear, and literally forgets everything, even when Dad reminds him 19 times.
Thank goodness for Perfect Priscilla. She never forgets, never does a bad job, and hasn’t once slammed a door. All the siblings know that she’s so perfect. You can often find her walking around the house taking notes of where everyone else has gone wrong. She will even do a chore over again because no one else can do it right.
Last, but not least, we have Martyr Mary. She has to do everything because no one else will do it. She sweeps, cooks, cleans, irons, folds, and even walks uphill nine miles in the snow to do it all. She’s always making sure everyone knows how exhausted she is from taking on their work. She’s so busy doing, she barely notices ways that others could or would help her.
The real problem with lazy kids
Did you see your kids in those characters above? If you’re like me, your kids are a mix of several of them. Oh, and you might feel a little convicted about your own habits too.
Work is hard. That’s no suprise to anyone. We’ve come to expect that and we’ve come to hate the fact that we have to do it. Plus, work gets in the way of the more important things we want to do in life.
This is the problem.
We’ve gotten work all wrong. We’ve believed a lie about work and it’s keeping us from raising responsible kids.
Of course, as much as I hate to admit it, the blame falls on us parents. We have painted the perfect picture of the drudgery of work. And then we turn around and blame our kids for being lazy when we ask them to help.
Do you see the irony here?
Imagine it this way. I tell you both in words and actions all about my HORRIBLE root canal. Maybe you even sit by my bedside with soft foods and pain meds while I wallow in pain, telling you how it’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me. One month later, it turns out you need a root canal. What would you think if I told you it wouldn’t be that bad?
Ha! Your mind would immediately go back to the horror I expressed when I experienced the same thing. You’d likely do ANYTHING possible to get out of that root canal, wouldn’t you?
I know I don’t need to answer that, and yet sadly I’m just as guilty as you are! Here’s the truth:
The MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to help our kids become responsible instead of lazy is to MODEL a healthy view of work for them!
We have to change the way we talk about work and the things we believe about work so they line up with God’s Word!
5 truths to transform lazy kids into responsible kids
If we want our lazy kids to become responsible kids, we have to change the script. Throw out the negative narratives about work and teach the truth. Here are a few things to get you started:
1. Nothing in life is free. Everyone must contribute in some way.
We typically figure this out as adults, but it leaves us jaded. Have you ever thought about why? What if we were taught from a young age that NOTHING is free? What if we were taught that we need to contribute in some way in order to fulfill our purpose?
I challenge you to change this narrative for your kids. Everyone works. It’s not a horrible awful thing. It’s not abuse. It’s actually fun if you choose to see it that way. But even if you don’t, we need everyone to pitch in to get the job done well.
The word chores has such a negative meaning, but you can change that! Make chores a fun, meaningful, and memorable part of your family life. I have developed a great chore chart idea here that everyone will love!
2. Good enough is not enough.
I think this is one of the most dangerous attitudes we can take about anything in life. What if you had open heart surgery and the surgeon only put two stitches in then clapped his hands together and said, “That’s good enough!”
We all KNOW that would be a huge problem. We expect our heart surgeon to be excellent. To literally do the best possible job he could.
You might argue that not everything in life is as important as heart surgery, and that’s why we don’t give it all the same amount of effort. But is that really true? Can you really say that saving your physical life is more important than saving your spiritual life?
Here’s one truth I teach my kids:
Think about that for a minute. When every single choice you make changes you, then you are either becoming something you want to be or something you don’t.
There is no middle ground. The choice to do the job half-way is becoming a part of your character whether you admit it or not. So who do you want to be–a person of excellence or a person who is good enough?
Whatever your hand finds to do,
do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10
Maybe the bigger question would be what message are you sending to others when you don’t do excellent work?
3. Doing something with a bad attitude ISN’T better than not doing it at all.
At the time of writing this post I have 4 teenagers. Trust me when I say that I KNOW bad attitude. Teenage hormones and swirling life circumstances can make it hard to believe it’s possible to have a GOOD attitude sometimes.
As parents, we may often find ourselves letting the bad attitude go if we at least get obedience out of our kids. I’m guilty of this for sure. At least they did something, right?
Wrong! God has a pretty clear message to send about bad attitudes. Remember Moses who led the people out of slavery in Egypt? He put up with their complaining and bad attitudes for 40 years while they wandered the wilderness. Did you know that Moses didn’t get to go into the promised land?
It was ALL because of a bad attitude. God told him to tell the rock to give water for the people. Moses chose to strike the rock out of anger because he was fed up with them! (Believe me, we would have been, too.) But there is something interesting to see in this story. Read the words of God’s accusation:
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Numbers 20:12
Ouch. Notice any mention of the rock? God saw right through Moses’ bad attitude into his heart. You see, often when we don’t do something it’s because we don’t believe we should have to. Perhaps we have a different agenda, or maybe we think someone else should do it. Either way, we doubt that God’s way of doing things is best.
We need to believe that work is the perfect gift from our perfect God and we need to show that by having the right attitude as we do it.
4. Use strategies to help you become more responsible.
So you hear my plea and you’re ready to help your lazy kids become more responsible, but you have NO IDEA how to start. Trust me, the practical side of raising responsible kids is not lost on me. I know it’s just plain hard to be diligent.
Our flesh gravitates to lazy. The world feeds that laziness with its lies. For our kids, the idea of being responsible is not at all attractive, much less easy.
Take heart my friend! It’s not easy, but it’s simple. I’ve outlined 10 strategies for helping your kids develop good work habits and work unto the Lord here.
Remember, most things in life are taught. Kids don’t just become responsible. They actually don’t just become lazy either (although it’s far more likely). They become what they see. They become what is expected of them!
Take action now and teach your kids HOW to be responsible instead of lazy! We can take pride in our work because our work is unto the Lord.
5. We don’t work for men, but for God.
Speaking of working unto the Lord, let me conclude this post with that reminder. You’ve probably read the verse:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
You can read more about what it means to work unto the Lord here, but let me give you a quick summary. Our work isn’t for others. It’s not even for ourselves. We aren’t working for that beloved paycheck (although it’s nice to get).
We work for God. We work for His glory. We work for His purpose in our lives. We work to learn. We work to grow.
If we can get this right, work will not only be easier, it will have deep purpose!
If you’d like to help your family see God’s purpose and plan for work, we can help with this Bible study! Work Unto the Lord is a 20-lesson deep dive into exactly what we need to know about:
- where the idea of work comes from
- how God uniquely designed us for work
- how work is a gift from God
- how God tells us to work
- how God uses work to grow us
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.