Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Teaching the Kids to Work - Part 1 - Why?
I knew I wanted to raise hard working people, but I didn't quite grasp the importance until recently...
I had been feeling like I needed to have the kids work more, but I wasn't sure where to fit it in. There were so many things I wanted to teach them during the day, plus I have a household to run - and teaching the kids to work more takes TIME! (In fairness to them - they do work more than your average kid - they have more time to do so since they don't go to a school).
Then, I was talking to my friend, Lara, at the park. She told me that she and her family were doing a "work-camp" (You can read about it here) They basically work from 7 am until noon every day, with a break for smoothies in between. I thought, "If they can work for 5 hours - surely we can do more than we're doing!"
Then I had to decide: Do I want to spend more time working when there are SO many other things I want to teach my kids?
I set out to find the answer. What is it, exactly, that they learn from working? If it's just skills - I'm sure I could teach them those in a short amount of time, when they're a little older and more capable.
I was intrigued that one of the first things God told Adam after he ate of the fruit was to get to work. Why? Why not tell him to get studying about how to return to Him? Why fill up his time (and ours) with weeds and all sorts of things to do? Wouldn't it be great if we could just sit around and study great books and scriptures all day?
I asked my Sunday School class this question and asked them to help me think of traits that are developed in a society that works the minimal amount in order to play (ie. ours). Some traits mentioned were: flightiness, superficiality, the tendency to be swayed about, "ever-learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).
Then I asked them to help me think of traits that people who work hard have. They mentioned: Sturdiness of character, gratitude, appreciation for others' efforts (compassion), ability to value those things that matter... after a while I realized that every good character trait we develop - comes from working - from doing hard things.
That's when I realized - reading and studying good books inspires us to become good people and to seek for good things, but working is what makes us become good people who do good things - even when they're hard.
The two go hand in hand of course, but my kids (and I) are not going to BECOME great people if all we do is read about those people. We have to do the work - the hard things in life (especially when we don't feel like doing them) to become like those people.
I explained this to the kids after reading about Alma - how hard he worked and all the hardships he endured, but how much joy he had, and good he did, because of it. He was one well practiced in doing hard things.
This has very much changed my perspective on my work. Now when I go to clean the kitchen when I'm not feeling like it, I remind myself that I am not doing a temporal thing that will need to be done in a couple of hours anyway. I am building something eternal (me).
The kids have complained a little (okay - there has been a couple of fits) about the higher standard I have for the work they do, but I remind them that the more they don't feel like doing something, the more they are practicing doing hard things, and becoming the people they were meant to become.
*Just to clarify - what I mean by "work" is putting forth the effort to accomplish something. If we practice doing so in our housework - we will be better able to do so in any other are of our lives - school work, church work, occupation, etc.
Click here to see more on how to teach work.