Categories: Better Life

3 Tips for Raising Responsible (Happy) Kids

Today I am so happy to welcome my sweet friend Courtney DeFeo from Lil Light O’ Mine. Courtney is the author of the newly released book In This House, We Will Giggle, which helps parents to help their children experience the goodness of God, the joy of following Jesus and the difference children can make in the lives of others. It is a must read for any parent who sometimes struggles to balance love and discipline!

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This is a guest post from Courtney DeFeo of Lil Light O’ Mine

Do you ever feel like you could use some help around the house?

Do your kids despise work and chores?

Are you hoping that someday your kids may actually be able to go to college without you?

Believe me, I get it.

At home I have two little girls with wild imaginations. If we go to the dentist in the morning, they are playing “dentist” by that afternoon. I can hear gagging sounds coming from the playroom as one sister flosses the other sister. Then, if we visit a new restaurant concept (because daddy works in restaurants) – they will come home and you guessed it – play restaurant. Play-doh becomes food, my business cards are swiped as credit cards and if mommy and daddy don’t play along – it gets ugly.

I love their imaginations, I do. I want them to grow up having lots of fun.

The problem comes when it’s time to clean up the elaborate dentist office and restaurant or whatever other crazy scenario they’ve invented. All of a sudden, everyone is tired or teething or there is a pulled hamstring. The most creative, hard-working sister act in America is down for the count once … responsibility arrives on the scene! And I have to be honest – sometimes it is less WORK for me just to clean it up than to actually take the time to teach them to clean.

But that would defeat the purpose.

The virtue of responsibility causes much stress in our worlds because it is not easy! However, I am choosing not to give up – because this mom will not be doing laundry and cutting crust off her college kids’ sandwich. Amen?

But I do believe it is possible to raise kids that are both responsible AND happy.

Here are three strategies that have helped me–they might just help you too:

1. Realize It’s About Consistency More Than the Method

If you walked through my house, you would find at least 5 versions of a chore system that I started and stopped at some point. The truth is that my kids are very capable of doing chores – and I am horrible at follow through. I kept searching for a system that is easy, one that will make them love chores and work. A system that might require very little of me. I am so sorry to report that it isn’t out there. You can pick any of the 15K options on Pinterest, or one of Ruth’s printable chore charts, and just stick with it. Consistency is not the easy road, but it’s the effective one. Consistency. Repetition. Structure. Your method will become expected and a habit.

2. Accept They Will Never LOVE to Work

I am very passionate about teaching our kids virtues through fun and experiences (not lectures). The virtue of responsibility involves hard work and I have finally concluded that there are few (if any) kids that just love hard work. If they are fighting you on it, you have normal kids. When I embraced that – it made the fight less frustrating. We can still be creative and make it LESS of a fight and more experiences for sure! When I find an area of need and match it to my girls’ strengths – they work really hard. Larson can clean windows like no one else. Ella can organize a cabinet all day. Find some things they love and praise them galore! Yet, don’t let them out of the hard stuff.

3. Find What Motivates Them

For my girls, I have found their deep desires will motivate them to action. We have expected chores (often unpaid) around our house, but it is fun to make up a list of extras. Then, tie those chores to meeting a financial goal or experience for them. They can earn their way to that prize or special trip by doing extra work around the home. We have highly capable kiddos – we just need to hunt for the right motivation and show them we believe in them.

I am not as much worried about them being responsible elementary kids – but I am raising them to be future roommates, employees, wives, homemakers and more! Learning to work hard is good for all – even mom!


In This House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life offers parents a practical approach to instilling virtues in their children through laughter, rather than lecture. Designed to cover an entire year, each of the 12 chapters highlights one key virtue in developing a child’s character, along with insights to help infuse the virtue into everyday life.


Courtney DeFeo is a popular blogger and creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View.” She is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. To connect with Courtney, visit

Ruth Soukup

Ruth Soukup - LIVING WELL SPENDING LESS. Practical solutions for everyday overwhelm. Food Made Simple, Life Etc., Home 101, Smart Money. Start organizing your whole life today!

View Comments

  • From experience I know consistancy is key! That's a hard one or me. Sometimes I wonder who is being held accountale and being training...them or me! Linda

  • I love when we unite as mothers and women of faith to share all this goodness. I am a new blogger myself (from South Florida- hi Ruth), and I just love what you both stand for. Continue the great work! And please give me any feedback or advice as a new blogger and mommy. Ruth, I did read your book. Thank you.

    :) Krysta from

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