Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaching Children to Work

As I talk with other moms, I hear a wide variety of opinions about giving children chores. Some feel that children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and shouldn’t have “undue” stress placed upon them. One friend grew up in a home where her only chore was picking up her bedroom, and before she got married, her mother put her through a course in how to keep a house. Others were raised doing chores from the time they were old enough to reach a sink, and so they knew how to run a home when it was time for them to marry. As I look at the differences in situation and rearing, I have to say, children who are taught early how to work are children who are prepared for their futures.

Shortly after I was married, I spent some time managing a fast food restaurant. It was easy for me to determine which of the employees had been taught to work, and which hadn’t. Some of the teens were at a loss to know how to mop a floor or wipe a counter, and they needed instruction on the most simple things, let alone counting out the cash drawer or doing more complicated tasks. Other employees jumped right in, handling the dishes with the ease of having done it many times at home. I’m sure you can guess which workers I preferred to have on my crew each night.

This doesn’t just happen in a fast food setting. Companies on every economic level are looking for employees who are willing to get in there and get the job done, who are self-starters and only need an assignment before heading off to see to its completion. Children who are taught at home to work will grow up to be these employees who can motivate themselves and see to it that their department succeeds.

I realize I can’t make a broad generalization, but I will say that from what I’ve personally observed, children who aren’t taught to work don’t feel as confident. They take things for granted. They assume things will be handed to them, rather than earned. They tend to be disrespectful to their parents. They don’t understand the value of money. When they are asked to do something, it’s so contrary to what they’re used to, they become sullen and resentful.

I agree that our children should have happy childhoods. But I’d like to know where it’s written that chores make for unhappy childhoods. I’ve had many pleasant moments washing dishes with my daughter or folding laundry with my son. It’s a time to connect and to bond. Chore time doesn’t have to be miserable. It can be fun. And when your children grow up and see what you’ve taught them through those chores, they will thank you for building them a foundation for their futures.

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