1. Archive


As a college freshman at Florida A&M University in the early 1980s, I recalled the shock of meeting so many young men who did not know how to wash or iron their own clothes.

Moreover, there seemed to be even more domestically deficient men by the time I entered graduate school at nearby Florida State University in the late '80s and early '90s.

As an undergraduate, I parlayed my ironing expertise into a business. I would iron pants and shirts for money at night. I gave up the practice when the sheer number of customers outpaced my ability to keep up with my studies.

I learned how to cook, clean and iron at home because I had chores and responsibilities that my parents required me to fulfill.

My wife and I are determined to send our children into the world with the ability to care for themselves and their home as well. In fact, there are basic things a young man should be able to do by the time he enters high school, such as cooking, washing clothes, ironing and cleaning.

Believe me, having young boys who learn how to accomplish these things early in life will make them stronger marriage partners in the future.

Our oldest son is 11 and he has learned how to separate clothes by color before washing. He is responsible for emptying the trash and cleaning the sink in his bathroom.

The youngest is 8, and he is responsible for emptying his trash receptacle and cleaning his room. He also sets the table and removes dishes after meals. Despite the resistance we encounter from our children, we must set expectations.

When my sons reach middle school, I will teach them how to iron. I vividly recall the exact moment that I began ironing my own clothes. My mother was in the process of ironing my pants when I was in seventh grade and I remarked that my pants still looked wrinkled.

My mom responded, "You can iron them yourself," and from that moment on I always ironed my clothes.

Responsibility begins at home. We intend to teach our children how to clean a house from top to bottom and cook a basic meal by the time they enter college.

Kids need structure and discipline that will help ensure good scholastic and career habits in the future.

And who knows? Perhaps, good husbands, fathers and community leaders will arise from the responsibilities that we require at home.

Keith Berry is a married father of two sons who lives in Westchase.