Rip Van Winkle was highly admired for his kindness, his generosity, and his helpfulness by local townspeople; however, his wife judged him to be lazy. He willingly spent his time helping others but rarely helped his own family. Local children, in particular, loved Rip Van Winkle:
The children of the village, too, would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was surrounded by a troop of them . . .
While Rip Van Winkle was very willing to spend time teaching the neighbor's children new games and activities, he was not willing to help with his household's chores:
The great error of Rip's composition was a strong dislike of all kinds of profitable labor.
The story explained that Rip was happy to play games with children and to go fishing (even when he wasn't catching any fish), but he wouldn't do work to profit his own household. Oddly, he was even willing to help other families with their tiresome work:
He would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest toil, and was a foremost man at all country frolics for husking Indian corn, or building stone fences; the women of the village, too, used to employ him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them.
Overall, Rip was not a lazy person; he simply hated doing chores at his own house. His wife and children were negatively affected by his hatred of household chores:
His children . . . were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody.
His lack of effort to provide for his family's needs left his wife extremely frustrated. She was so frustrated that she regularly told him of "the ruin he was bringing on his family." Though most of the townspeople placed "the blame on Dame Van Winkle" for any of their marital drama, these townspeople did not have an accurate understanding of how little Rip Van Winkle did for his family. Dame Van Winkle was not merely a nagging wife; her husband left her responsible for all household chores. This made her frustrated and angry.