Have you ever given your children a task to do, and then regretted it? Have you ever had to clean up after your child finished “cleaning up”? Do you ever think, “This would be easier if I just did it myself”? Is giving our children jobs and chores worth all the hassle?
I am blessed with some pretty crazy munchkins. They know how to keep life interesting. It is a constant flurry of activity and imagination around my household. Just the other day Tadpole was in the dining room laughing like crazy. I had to know what was so funny, so I stepped into the room and asked her why she was laughing. She responded, “I was talking to the wall! Isn’t that so funny!” Yep, I never know what to expect out of these two. They are such a blessing, and often such a handful!
I was visiting a family recently and we started talking about how the younger generation today is often lacking a good work ethic. They started explaining how it was very important to them that they taught their kids how to work. They spoke of how they had their kids washing the dishes from the time they could carry their own plate to the kitchen. They laughed as they recalled stacking up encyclopedias on a chair so the kids could actually reach the sink.
It was an encouragement to me to hear not only what others had done, but that their kids are now adults, and all have a good work ethic. It showed me that it can be done. It proved that it is not an act of cruelty to make your kids work. In my personal opinion, it is an act of cruelty to not teach them how to work.
But therein lies my problem. I want to teach my kids how to work, but that takes a lot of work! My kids are still pretty young, and a lot of the work they do isn’t done all that well. Squirmy was asked to clean the bathroom mirror, and this is what we got:I had the privilege of having the little terrors with me for a day at work. I chose to throw them upon a simple task. We were going to unpackage and install around 20 pairs of headphones in a computer lab. We set up our little assembly line and got to work. The trouble was, I had to work twice as hard to keep them working. “Daddy, this is stuck.” “Daddy, I can’t get this open.” “Daddy, can you help me?” “Daddy, what do I do with this?”
Now really, it wasn’t all that bad. They did need a bit of assistance, but they really did work hard. Looking back at the project, they were honestly more of a help than a hindrance. But, that is not always the case. Often it seems that when I give my kids a task to do, it makes the task take an extra long time.
But, I must remember to have some longsuffering with my children. Yes, it might make the task last a little longer, and perhaps even make it a little more difficult. But, the reason I give them jobs is not just to make my life easier. The main reason is because I want them to know what hard work is, and what it feels like to have finished a job well. I want them to know the feeling of laying down to relax after a long day, knowing that they did their best. I want them to know how to work!
I appreciated the encouragement given by this older couple. They reminded me of the importance of giving my children jobs to do. They also showed me that the benefits far outway the difficulties of tasks that take a little longer than normal.
I did get to enjoy a little taste of those benefits just the other night. I had laid out all the laundry in preparation to get it folded and put away. Before I got started, I sat down to discuss our holiday schedule with my Beautiful Bride. By the time I got back to the clothes, I saw that Squirmy had taken it upon himself to help out. Folding laundry is not one of his chores and is normally not something he is required to help with. Sure, not everything was folded correctly, but it was a blessing to me just the same!
Did your parents force you to work when you were younger? What kind of jobs were you required to do? Were you ever given a job that was too difficult? Do you think that working as a child helped you or hindered you? In what ways? Let us know in the comments below.
Sure, you can send this article to anybody you want. And, if you’re REAL awesome, you’ll even tell them where it came from!