What’s The Big Deal About Making My Bed?

“What’s the big deal about making my bed?” Have you ever faced that question from
one of your children? I know that I have. Honestly, sometimes I catch myself thinking
that question as well! So, what is the big deal or does an unmade bed even make a

Steve has been writing on his blog recently about the importance of teaching our
children to fulfill their budding, primary, and secondary responsibilities. Let me take a
few moments to add my thoughts to his blogs. When we teach the “responsibility tree”
at our Parenting Matters conferences, I encounter two basic responses. The responses
are so obvious that I can practically see them written on the parent’s faces. To one
group of parents, the teaching on budding, primary, and secondary responsibilities is the
“ahah” moment, the moment that the light bulb of understanding comes on and they
begin to recognize the misconnect they have been encountering with their own children.
I get excited for these parents, because understanding the progression of
responsibilities gives them the tools they need to help their children learn and master
the various levels of responsibility. For the other group of parents, however, the teaching
about levels of responsibilities seems like just one more thing. Training their children
through three levels of responsibility and holding them to those responsibilities looks like
too much work. Their expressions almost speak the words, “but I can do it better and
more quickly myself.” Sadly, this reaction is not uncommon, but it is counter productive.
Let me explain why.

I’m sure that every parent we teach could do a better job making beds, putting away
toys, brushing teeth, setting the table, than any of their children. I guarantee that I could
do a better job than any of my children. (Except maybe our youngest, the neat freak!)
However, just because we can do a better job than our children doesn’t mean that we
should do the job for them. When we allow our children to shirk responsibilities for any
reason, whether it be forgetfulness, disobedience, or a misplaced sense of perfection on
our part, we are robbing them of important life lessons.

The budding responsibilities, those chores and actions that are centered on self, teach
our children important lessons of self-care and teach them not to expect that they will be
continually waited on by their parental servants. I’m speaking of chores like bed-making,
tooth brushing, putting on clean clothes daily, putting away their own clothes. As soon
as possible, our children need to embrace these responsibilities and daily grow in their
proficiency and skills at accomplishing these needful tasks. We must not allow our fear
of a job not perfectly done to rob our children of these important steps toward independence. Certainly, check that your children have done an adequate job at
brushing their teeth or washing their hands, but DON”T continue to do it for them, or do
it over for them. Children who have been trained early in budding responsibilities will be
eager to become a contributing member of the household through the acquisition of
primary responsibilities.

Primary responsibilities show themselves in chores and actions that are family oriented.
Chores such as laundry, mowing, helping to prepare meals, babysitting siblings for no
pay, etc., all combine to build a family identity and a sense of importance as a
necessary member of the family. Even parents who have done a good job of teaching
budding responsibilities often stumble when it comes to insisting on the primary
responsibilities. It builds our own sense of pride when people outside our home are
clamoring to have our children as employees, team members, or leaders in their
organizations. Resist the pressure to give into others and even your own children! Until
a child is CHARACTERIZED by diligence in primary responsibilities, without reminders
from mom and dad, they are not ready to move into the realm of secondary

What are secondary responsibilities? These are the “outside the home and family”
responsibilities that our children long to attain. Things such as a paying job,
membership on a sports team, ministry responsibilities at church, a cell phone, or I-pod,
drivers licenses, all of these actions and activities fall into the realm of secondary
responsibilities and these are the things our children crave. Some people would
consider many of the things I have listed to be privileges, I would disagree. Whether it’s
driving a car or listening unsupervised to downloaded music on an I-pod, our children
must be trustworthy enough to use these responsibilities wisely and in a God-honoring
manner. A young person who cannot seem to remember to fulfill their primary
responsibilities certainly cannot be trusted to obey the speed limit or remember to limit
their texts and cell phone calls.

Faithfulness in budding and primary responsibilities is the groundwork for trustworthy
and responsible adults. A young person who is allowed to shirk these responsibilities
and go straight to the secondary responsibilities is building habits for a lifetime. As
parents, we need to get beyond the fatigue of constant training and the easy excuses of
perfectionism to make sure that our children build good and Godly habits-habits that will
help them make the transition to adulthood and their own marriages. Young people who
disdain the primary/home centered responsibilities in favor of the upfront, recognition-
bringing secondary responsibilities are on the road to becoming husbands and wives
that find their worth and satisfaction in jobs, peer friendships, church leadership, etc., to
the detriment of their own homes and families.

What’s the big deal about making my bed? More than first appears. Moms and dads,
let’s make sure we’re fulfilling our budding and primary responsibilities, then pass on
that legacy to our children! 


Megan Ann