January 1983 // Volume 21 // Number 1 // Research in Brief

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Children and Housework


Glen O. Jenson

A recent study supported by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station focused on children and their involvement in household tasks. A sample included 115 children from 105 two-parent/two-child families. The children's ages ranged from 6 to 17 years of age. The researchers found that the majority of the children did participate in selected household tasks. The older the child became, the more likely he or she was to participate in any number of household responsibilities. Females were more involved than males.

When the employment status of mother was analyzed, some interesting trends were noted. Children were more likely to participate in household duties if their mother wasn't employed outside the home. The next group of children most likely to participate were children whose mother was employed full time outside the home. The children least likely to get involved in household tasks is where mother is employed part time outside the home.

Here are some implications for Extension professionals to consider:

  1. Do our Extension home management programs address the issue of ways of using children and youth in completing household tasks?
  2. Do our current program offerings include ways of making household tasks into learning experiences for children and youth? This seems especially needed for male children. The majority of the young men. after they marry. will have a working wife, if present trends continue. It seems imperative to give males training in domestic-type activities so they can, and will, become involved in household activities. Historically. the male has been left out of domestic-skill training. Future trends indicate we need to adjust that focus.
  3. Could the training being offered that deals with the accomplishment of household tasks be offered at a time and place where the entire family could come and participate rather than just one or more adult members of the family? Children are very much like an other person-they enjoy that which they have skills to perform.
  4. This study indicates some parents are overlooking one of the best resources they have for household help-their own children-and are over looking a very valuable responsibility they have in teaching their children how to perform household tasks.
  5. As more and more families become dualpaycheck families, it would seem important to help those families capitalize on all the resources they have to accomplish the regular and routine household tasks. Extension could have a vital role in helping families in this area.

"Children and Housework." Francis L. Cogle and Grace E. Tasker. The Journal of Family Relations. XXXI (July. 1982). 395-99.