Missoula council member cites the importance, benefits of childhood chores

As quoted by Abigail Buren, if you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. (Michigan State University)

Anecdotal statements made by Missoula City Council members at the end of each meeting can range from humorous to serious. Sometimes, they fall somewhere in between.

On Monday night, council member John Contos said he was listening a John Tesh radio show when the topic of “kids who do chores” came up. The results, he said, were eye opening.

Tesh is a best-selling author and radio host who focuses on personal growth.

“He was talking about the results of families who have their children do chores,” Contos said. “One out of four families have their children do chores. That really shocked me. I thought it would have been four out of four, or at least a three out of four.”

Contos’ comments, seemingly out of the blue, touched on a number of studies that support his claims. The Center for Parenting Education cites research indicating that children who have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to do deal with frustrations.

Likewise, a long-standing Harvard study also found that children who were given chores became more independent adults. Contos said the radio show cited the benefits as well, and he wanted to share them publicly.

“Children who have chores typically do better in school, they do better in math, they typically go on to college, they have a better self-concept of themselves and they’re calmer,” he said. “I thought it was absolutely amazing.”

The comments prompted a range of whimsical comments from members of council, including Amber Sherrill, who said “hopefully more kids are doing chores.”

Mirtha Becerra suggested the one-in-four statistic cited by Contos represented her household, where chores are required.

“I’ve almost entirely given over cleaning the bathrooms to my kids,” said council member Heidi West. “They both have one, and I don’t have to do it anymore.”

As for council member Stacie Anderson, she’s still doing her mother’s chores. “I’m a full fledged adult and I still have chores, thanks to my mom,” she said.