Battling the chore wars?

February 20, 1997

How to get your family to help around the house


Staff Writer

If getting your family to pitch in is your toughest household task, there's a good way to avoid the chore wars.

Make sure they all know they're on the same team, says Jeff Semler, an extension agent with University of Maryland's Cooperative Extension Service.

"It's a family unit - a team unit - and children need to feel part of it," says Semler, who works with 4-H, agriculture and natural resources in Washington County.


That goes without saying in the households of Pam and John Schnebly and Susie and Bill Schnebly.

The two brothers and their families, who live in Fairview near Clear Spring, operate Crown Stone Farm.

Pam and John Schnebly have three children: J.C., 17, a senior at Clear Spring High School; Jeremy, 14, an eighth-grader at Clear Spring Middle School; and Heather, 10, a fifth-grader at Clear Spring Elementary School.

With a dairy farm, there always is something to be done, Pam Schnebly says.

She says everyone is willing to lend a hand whenever needed. If Jeremy has a basketball game, J.C. finishes the chores in the barn, and Jeremy does the same for his brother.

"We all work for each other," Pam Schnebly says.

Heather, who wants to be a nurse, says she likes to help. She does household tasks such as dishes, vacuuming and cleaning her room, while J.C. and Jeremy mostly do outdoor chores.

Susie and Bill Schnebly have three sons: Brian, 20, Mark, 17, and Matt, 15. Brian is a sophomore at University of Maryland, and Mark is a senior and Matt is a sophomore at Clear Spring High School.

"Our kids have always pitched in," Susie Schnebly says.

When working on the farm, certain things must be done on a daily basis, and that responsibility has spilled over into the home, she says.

She says when her sons are finished with their chores in the barn, they help as she is preparing dinner.

They have assisted on the farm since they were 3 or 4, when they'd do things such as opening gates.

"They were that extra little pair of hands," she says.

Teach skills

Don't think about how you can bribe your children to do housework - think about how you can teach them the skills they need to succeed in life, says Patricia H. Sprinkle, a Miami author whose books include "Children Who Do Too Little" and "Women Who Do Too Much."

"The key is for parents to realize how important it is to prepare children for adulthood," Sprinkle says. "They need to know how to be responsible to a group of people."

Incentives such as special trips or family outings can help motivate children to do household chores.

An allowance is another incentive, but the child should earn the money, Semler says.

Everyone should realize that no household task is too menial, he says.

Semler's wife, Kerri, also works full time. Their daughters Jessica, 11, and Kayla, 8, make their beds and keep their rooms in order, and also help with tasks such as feeding the dogs, emptying the trash, setting the table and clearing it after dinner, doing dishes, dusting furniture and vacuuming.

Parents should show their kids a positive work ethic, he says.

"Children may not follow your directions, but they will always follow your actions," he says.

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