Family life

The place of children's work around the house

Jacqueline J. Goodnow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cultural groups vary considerably in their expectations of work around the house by children, and these variations provide a window for viewing ideas about the nature of children and of family life. This paper provides (a) a summary of differences found between two cultural groups in Australia (Australian-born and Lebanese-born), (b) a review of differences found within historical studies and within other cross-cultural comparisons, and (c) a report on approaches and concepts to children's work within a further Australian-born group (a report that considers views about money for work as well as some general underlying principles about work that can legitimately be asked of others and work that cannot). The important differences among cultures, it is argued, have to do not only with the expectations of work, but also with the way parents mark some jobs as different from others (e.g. “regular” vs. “extra”, boys' work or girls' work, can be pased on vs. cannot be), and with the way they use, as a sign of whether a child is acquiring the desired concepts of family life, the child's understanding of phrases such as “your job” and the child's recognition of the mother's work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1989



  • concepts of children
  • expectations
  • family
  • parenting
  • relationships
  • Work

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