Teach Them to Work

My teenagers do tough jobs around the house like cutting down dead trees, landscaping and moving heavy boxes to and from the attic.  My elementary school kids make their own bed and vacuum their room.  In teams of two, they rotate taking out the trash and unloading the dishwasher. They clean their bathroom, help with windows, and dust ceiling fans. Everyone in this house folds and puts away their laundry. Why? Because I am the mother. I am not the maid.

I require my children to do work. It’s not because I am incapable, lazy or just want to inflict misery on them. Learning to work is important.  Trust me, their irritating whines and complaints are barely silenced by their less-than-perfect job performance. But I’m parenting for the future.  Lord willing, they won’t always live in this house.  I want to be sure they are equipped with a strong work ethic when they do leave home. Prospective employers will be grateful and I’m certain their future wives will appreciate my efforts.

All around me, I witness the effects of not being made to work.  Attitudes of entitlement, arrogance and pure laziness create the most unattractive young people.  On the other hand, children who understand the value of hard work often exhibit more gratitude and better stewardship. Which kids do you want living in your house?

This weekend we had a family work day in which everyone was required to participate.  Most had a decent attitude even though no one wanted to spend their Saturday cleaning closets, running errands and dusting baseboards.  With sweat dripping from my teenagers, I looked at them with admiration as they trimmed bushes in 95* heat.  Honestly, they had no interest in the landscaping but they did care about doing the job right the first time. I watched as they trimmed, raked and tidied up the yard. It filled my mother’s heart to see them serve the family in that way – with excellence and determination to finish strong.

Colossians 3:23 came to mind, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.” We all want this for our children, don’t we? Our desire is to see them develop a strong work ethic because doing so brings glory to God. The book of Proverbs is full of references to work because the Creator designed each of us to live productive lives rather than a life of laziness.

Do you want to build your kids’ self-esteem?
Do you want your children to understand the value of money?
Do you want to foster an attitude of gratefulness in your children?
Do you want your kids to learn to persevere?

Teach them to work. They may fuss about it in childhood but they’ll thank you as adults.