Monday, October 11, 2010

Scary Stuff: Work

Let me tell you a story . . .

Eve was the first working mother. She looked around at her perfect garden and her perfect life and realized she'd never learn anything if she didn't take some responsibility. What's more, her kids would be spoiled brats. Adam agreed, so they chose to leave paradise to go out and work for a living. That's why we arrive on earth when we're born instead of some Shangri-La.


Oh, sure. At first playing in the dirt seems like a giant party. It's soft and warm (before you find out about worms and weeds and wheelbarrows.)

Jake and Eliza

But there's no free lunch—somebody's feeding us. For the first little while we just lay back and take it all in. After a couple of years, though, we feel a little squirmy about being so pampered. In fact, one of your first sentences was, "I do it myself!"


Eve got it right. She knew about stuff like self-esteem, and that moms and dads can't give it to their kids. It has to be earned. The Lord put the corn in the ground, the peaches on the trees, and the trout in the streams, but He left the work for us to do ourselves. Maybe He wanted to teach gratitude, humility, diligence and help us build our self-worth. It's a great teaching pattern for parents.

Benji's feet

We all need a chance to dig around and find the stuff we want. If the tools for life were lined up nicely on the counter we'd never learn to be creative—the search is part of our education.

Coal, oil, silver and gas are all hidden in convenient locations for our use. Wind and lightning are there for the taking, but God lets His children discover His treasures. Of course, He already knows the best ways to use these tools, but we learn better when we work it out for ourselves. It might take longer and make a mess, but we'll remember what we learn.


When I had little kids I was always hovering about, trying to keep the mess to a minimum. It seemed easier and faster to do the cooking and cleaning myself. Luckily, there's a two-year-old inside everybody who insists on independence, and eventually parents figure out that it's for the best. Research prepares kids for work and work prepares kids for adulthood.


Twelve-year-olds that can follow a recipe become eighteen-year-olds that can fill out a job application. There's an old saying: "The work will teach you how to do it." But work teaches more than just the skill that's required—its benefits are innumerable.

You'll be a better friend if you know how to lend a hand. You'll be a better student if you know how to stick to a task. You'll be a better driver if you've learned self control. You'll be a better spouse if you know how to pitch in willingly. Common sense is developed better by working than any other way, and common sense is worth way more than dollars and cents.


Don't ever avoid work because it seems beneath you,


Or over your head.
Doing any type of work well builds character.


Work improves your people skills. Usually kids duke it out with their brothers and sisters for a few years before they have to partner with someone outside the family. By then they've learned a bit about cooperation. Discussions with Mom about actually cleaning the tub instead of just closing the shower curtain, and debates with Dad about how long an hour of weeding should really take are good training seminars for uncomfortable conversations with a critical new boss.

Back in the day, work was worthwhile because it needed to be done. Nowadays, work is sometimes judged by how much you can make. Don't avoid work just because there's no money involved. Experience, resolve, skills and self-worth are the real payoffs for a job well-done. Work is noble. People who see your good works trust you with chosen tasks and you learn even more.


"If you want to keep your kids' feet on the ground,
Put some responsibility on their shoulders."
—Ann Landers

And to all you working moms,
(all moms are working moms!)
who are trying to follow Mother Eve
and get the job chart noticed,
here's an encouraging truth:

"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work,
and out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
Doctrine and Covenants 64:33

*Discussion Question:
How do you teach kids to work?
How do you motivate yourselves?
What jobs are appropriate for each age?
When is too much expected?


kenju said...

What I want to do is post this on Facebook and anywhere else that thousands of people will see it. How did you get so smart!!??

Diane said...

I knew my kids could work (whether they did or not was another story), but didn't really realize how important it was until I had a 16 year old niece live with me for a year. She didn't know how to wash dishes, clean a bathroom, or even make brownies from a box. My youngest took her in hand, and by the end of the school year she could do all those things and more. Her self-confidence sky-rocketed because of it.

This is something I could go on about forever. I won't, but I will close with this: we told our girls that the boy they married needed to be hard workers. A hard worker can always provide.

Heather Scott Partington said...

Great post. :)

marta said...

this is such a great post, mom. you always have a cute way of illustrating your point! i like the tie in with Eve in this post. i am all about my little one helping; he knows how to unload the utensils from the dishwasher and pull clothes out of the dryer. if only he knew how not to push over all the folded piles!

will keep at it. thanks for your encouragement.

Heffalump said...

Teaching kids to work is a great way to spend time together.
We have daily chores for our kids, and they earn Mom bucks for their chores. They can cash their bucks in for special treats, extra time on the Wii or computer, and they can save them up for real cash. Ten Mom bucks gets them a half an hour of time, a dollar, etc. Typically their chores are worth 2 Mom bucks a day, so they can earn ten in a week. If one of them refuses to do their job, they lose Mom bucks from their total, and their siblings are allowed to steal their job from them after a certain amount of time and get the rewards.
As for jobs appropriate for each age, with help, even young kids can do big jobs. My two year old daughter helps me with laundry. I take the clothes out of the washer and she helps me put them in the dryer. She also helps rinse the dishes after we wash them, and she puts her own diapers in the garbage after she gets changed. It takes a bit longer when she is helping, but she feels good about herself for helping, and she is learning valuable skills that we can build on as she gets older.

Christie said...

So, so true!

mama jo said...

this was great...was it your family night lesson?

Grandma Shelley said...

Excellent post!

Susan Adcox said...

Very good post, and very true. We do our kids a disfavor when we don't allow them to work. Grandparents have something different going for them--a different environment. Somehow it's more fun to do chores in a different environment than it is to do them at home. I remember happily helping with chores at my best friend's home, and grumbling at the same chores at my home. But grumbling aside, kids should have to do those chores!