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Helping Children Learn to Work

Are We Losing our Societal Norms About Work?

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Recently, our family embarked on a project of painting the exterior of our home. The house was badly in need of paint, and we have hated the color scheme since we moved in. So it was time for a major project.

Granted, our family has some older children living at home (ages 21, 18 and 16) and even our younger children (ages 10 and 13) are old enough to help. But I was absolutely overwhelmed at how much they were able to contribute and how it made the project much easier for their mom and me.

I guess we learned that we had done a good job teaching our children the value of work and the value of their contribution. That being said, sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get them to consistently do their weekly chores. So, lest you think our family is perfect, we struggle sometimes with getting the kids out of bed, or at times even finding their bed in a messy room.

My wife and I were discussing one day recently about how families have changed. In our parents’ generation, children worked on the farm to help supplement the family income. Our generation was really the first in which parents provided all the family income and the children's work (if they had a job) went to savings for college or for "play money." Have we lost the opportunity to teach children in a real way the value of working hard since most families no longer operate a family farm?

With children becoming more sedentary due to school routines, entertainment options and the like, it is more important than ever to teach the value of work. We parents face the challenge of needing to create opportunities to work rather than just having them presented to us.

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