My Daughter, My Slave

My Daughter My SlaveFor years I’ve dreamed of hiring a cleaning lady. And now I have one.

My daughter.

“Mom, do you have any chores to do today? Anything I can help with?” My six-year-old clasped her hands beneath her chin and grinned.

“Well, since you asked, I do need to clean the bathroom.”

{Gasp!} I love cleaning the bathroom! Can I scrub the toilet? Please, please?”

“Ah . . . sure.” (Twist yo’ momma’s arm.) “Would you like to clean the tub, too?”

She ran straight for the sink cabinet and grabbed a scrub brush. “Just show me what to do, Mom!”

Halleluiah. Within an hour, my daughter had wiped, dusted and swept half the house. Next I’ll teach her to fold laundry and bake a casserole, then I can kick my feet onto the sofa, crack open a can of Pringles, and watch while she takes over my job.

Since we entered the school stage, I’ve enjoyed seeing my firstborn gain independent skills. She can pour her own cereal, tie her own shoes, help shred lettuce and answer the phone. But sometimes I take a little too much advantage of her maturity.

“Sweetie, your sister is hungry. Can you get her some toast, please?”

“Would you hand me my scissors, darling? Mom doesn’t feel like getting up from this chair.”

“I need you to put away your backpack, your jacket, your shoes, your glasses, your hairbrush, your sister’s shoes, your sister’s hat, your sister’s dolls, yesterday’s dishes, this entire basket of clean towels, and a hoarder’s stack of Highlights magazines that I never got around to organizing—this instant. And while you’re at it, would you please teach your sister how to write her alphabet?”

“But Moooom! I was in the middle of coloring this picture!”

Oops. I forgot. My daughter is not my slave. She’s a kid. And she doesn’t deserve to be treated like the help—especially when I’m just too lazy or distracted to do my own darn job.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” (Ephesians 6:4).

This verse is often used in the context of punishment, as in, we parents shouldn’t come down so hard on our kids that we only manage to tick them off; remember training is the goal. Yet this wisdom applies to more than just discipline. The phrase “do not exasperate your children” has been popping into my head every time I bark another demand at my six-year-old. And I’m discovering there are many ways to irk our kids. Expecting them to be at my beck and call—yep, that’s a good one.

Do you do it, too? Maybe it’s time to cut our kids some slack and let them be, well, kids. I believe that’s part of what it means to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” God has rules, yes. He wants us to work heartily for him (Colossians 3:23) and to serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Yet above all, the Bible tells us God is love. He is patient, compassionate, creative and wise.

So while it’s important to encourage our kids to be selfless and hard-working, it’s just as important to nurture creativity, autonomy and self-expression. To give our kids space to discover not only what we’re expecting them to do, but also who God created them to be.

I guess this means I’ll be folding my own laundry for a while. Unless I really do hire that cleaning lady at last. Imagine all the free time I’d have to sit and color with my daughter! And to organize those Highlights magazines.

Well, let’s not go crazy. I have an entire alphabet to teach first.

Unless I hire a governess . . . .

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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like Queen of the Castle: A Fresh Perspective on Housework, Am I the Maid Around Here? and Cut Me Some Slack, Little People.

Linking up with: The Better Mom, Playdates With GodTitus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesday, Grace at HomeThriving Thursdays and Things I Can’t Say.



  1. says

    Oh, my, you’ve stirred some conviction in this slave-driving mama. Do I HAVE to stop asking my older girls to play Polly Pockets with their lil sis, though? ‘Cause I’d scrub the toilet twelve times over if I could just avoid dressing those tiny little dolls with their impossible rubber outfits. You’ve got me thinking as always, friend.

    • Becky says

      Oh, those Polly Pocket outfits are IMPOSSIBLE, I’m with you, my friend! Have you ever poked a hole through a sleeve with their little thumbs? I’ve done it. :) Always great to hear from you!

  2. says

    I totally agree. I find my oldest child ends up doing a lot around the house to help out too. I didn’t realize how much until I got sick, and he literally took over running the entire Mommy workload for two days with total ease.

  3. says

    Hmm, well with a house full of boys to men, I don’t see this scenario shaping up for me any time soon, sweet friend. In fact, I admire your ability to delegate and train your daughter to be responsible and an eager helper around the house, Becky. I say, either extreme is to be avoided! So maybe I need to reread this and get some tips on how to get my boys crackin’ while I put my feet up! ;)

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