Why should we teach our children to work?

I had no idea when I shared the importance of raising hard-working children last week, it would be such controversial topic!   I thought everyone wished their children would help more around the house.   I knew some people just didn’t take the time or effort to do it.  I did not know some people actually thought it was an awful thing to have our kids help out with chores?!

Controversial topic?

On Instagram this week, I shared my desire to raise hard working kids.    I shared a picture of my kids at work, and wrote how important it is for our kids to feel needed in our family by having regular chores.  I made it pretty light and fun and asked if anyone wanted to share their struggle in this area.

You would not believe the multiple bitter comments I received.  I was accused of making my children into slaves, for having them do all my chores while I sat on the couch (that made me laugh!), that children’s work is playtime and school and they should not be bothered by housework and that I was lazy if I expected my children to help around the house.   I am pretty sure these people were not from America, by the use of the word rubbish some word spellings that are different than us.

So to set the record straight, I am just enlisting my children to HELP, not take over while I sit on the couch.  As for play time, they get plenty of that too!   I think we are brought up in the USA to understand you don’t just get served for being alive (although, that attitude is becoming more apparent I am afraid).  It takes a lot of hard work to make a living and by learning that at an early age, kids are prepared to head out into the world when they leave home!

Not changing my message!

So after the shock that there are people out there that think this way, I realized that this view is not the majority.    I had plenty of positive feedback and assurance that the message I was getting out is definitely what we need to be teaching our children.

All that to say, I thought I should share some stories and scripture as we dig in to this project of developing hard working kids!   I am sticking to this message and those that don’t agree, I pray for you!  You have no idea the disservice you are doing to your children!

Proven true

After being bombarded by the negative comments, I decided to put it to the test.  I asked one son, who typically gives me the greatest difficulty when asked to help, what he thought.   I said, “I had someone say that kids should not be taught to do chores, that it was cruel, and I was a bad parent for doing so, what do you think about that?”

He just laughed and said, “Oh mom, all those chores would be way too much for you to do!” Enough said.

Kids aren’t going to always like helping out, they will often fight and argue when asked to do something.   It’s ok!  They will get over it!  They will understand what a vital role they play in the family.  They will thank you for it someday!  They will begin to realize that is what we do in this family and eventually work hard without the fight.

Happiness is not the goal!

It is the obligation of parents to make sure children feel loved and respected. It is not the obligation of parents to ensure children feel happy.

Dottie Jones

I love this quote, and also reminds me of God’s goal for us is holiness, not happiness!  God doesn’t do what makes us happy all the time, but He works in our life in a way that will drive us to depend on Him, deepen our relationship with Him, and bring us to holiness and that leads to true joy!

As parents, we don’t need to be concerned if our kids are always happy or not.  We may need to make them unhappy, in order to push them to reach their full potential.

Here are some stories and scripture that have convinced me that teaching my kids to work hard is important!

Proud kid with a broom

One year, one of my sons was at Bible camp for the week.   They stay in a small cabin with 6-7 boys and 1-2 counselors.  They encourage the boys to clean their cabin once a day, thankfully! I remember the first year, my son came home and couldn’t believe some of they boys had no idea how to sweep a floor!  He was given the honor of this task, because apparently he was the best at it.

Now keep in mind, I certainly am not one to be the most diligent and consistent in having my kids sweep the floor.  I tend to just do it when I notice it needs to be done.  However, there was a brief period when sweeping was a child’s chore after every meal, and I am thinking we need to bring that back!  This boy was filled with pride and accomplishment when he told me he could do something others had not learned how to do.

The thrill of the lawnmower

One thing all of my boys have learned at an early age is to mow the yard.   It could have something to do with the fact that when they were young, my husband would carry them in a backpack carrier while he push mowed the grass.   I loved that time, when they were not at my feet and instead spending time with dad!

When we got a riding mower, he held them on his knee while he mowed.  As soon as they were old enough to reach the pedal they begged to learn, and we let them, with a careful eye.  They didn’t do a great job at first, and we would often have to touch up some areas, but they were learning.  Our second son, Levi, wanted to do it so badly, he actually tied a block around his foot so he could stretch out long enough to push the pedal down.

Fast forward many years, the oldest boys are 15 and 14 and were asked 3 years ago to mow a nearby cemetery.  They were thrilled to mow for money!   It was a challenge at first, because Brad and I would have to get the trailer hooked up and help them load everything, and often do some of the mowing for them to make sure it turned out ok.   It was sort of a struggle to fit time to do that.

Independence and a paycheck

However, they are now completely independent and do a great job.  They have learned how to hook the trailer up, set up the ramps to load the mowers, fill the mowers and weed eater with gas, and drive the trailer to the cemetery and come home and get everything put away.  It has been a great little job for them.  This has then lead to other great work opportunities for those that know they can work!

Our youngest son was so happy with himself for being big enough this year to mow with the rider. Again, when he began he would leave strips of grass, not knowing exactly the method for getting everything cut. Now, he does a fantastic job at age 8!

He typically does not wear a baseball helmet while mowing, but it was new and he didn’t’ want to take it off!

Not everyone has acres and acres of mowing for their sons (or daughters) to do.  There are plenty of other jobs that your kids can learn and be pushed to learn to help them build skills and feel the sense of accomplishment.   I’d love to hear what jobs you have given your kids to do!

What does God say about work?

Here are several verses regarding work.   Now keep in mind, many of them are from the book of Proverbs. It is important to remember that while the Bible is full of promises, proverbs are sayings that are typically true, but not necessarily promises.  For example, It is not a guarantee that you will be wealthy just because you work hard, but you most likely will need to work hard in order to have the wealth you desire.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

Colossians 3:23

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 14:23

“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.”

Proverbs 18:9

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense”

Proverbs 12:11

“The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.”

Proverbs 21:25

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

Proverbs 6:6

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

Proverbs 10:4

And every mom’s favorite verse,

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

2 Thessalonians 3:10

We can see that work is pretty important in God’s eyes. What better time to teach a work ethic than when your kids are in your care!

A lesson from the military

I want to share another story that proves the point pushing our kids to do difficult tasks is a good thing!

I have a friend whose oldest son left recently to serve our nation in the military.  Apparently there were many parents who were trying to contact the military officials to find out the status of their child.  They were sent a kind letter to remind parents that these basic cadets were now in the military.  What they are being trained to do may someday save theirs and others’ lives.   It is not an easy path.  They will suffer hardship.   They will be sleep deprived. They will be yelled at, but they will also be cared for!  They will serve us someday and they need to be mentally and physically tough.

We don’t know what God has in store for our children.  We raise them to learn how to manage difficult circumstances.  We encourage and cheer them on, and allow them to see how hard work and perseverance pays off!  These are lessons they will take with them whether they are being trained to serve our country in the military, stand strong in the midst of negative peer pressure, or push hard through times of failure to develop a life saving medicine or a new invention.   Who knows what they will do, but if you train them to work hard and push through difficult circumstances, it will pay off someday!

My mechanically minded son was happy to help me plant sweetcorn when he found out there was a simple machine to help with the task!   I can’t wait to see his smile when we sit down to enjoy the fresh picked sweet corn later this summer!

I am still developing a better plan to regulate the household chores, and I will be sharing my plan soon.   I wanted to first of all establish our “why” in all of this.  I know there are plenty more reasons why we need to teach our children to work hard, and I would love to hear your stories!   Write them in the comments below, send me an email or visit me (worthylivingmom) on Instagram or Facebook.  Let’s encourage and motivate each other to raise this generation to have a great work ethic!

To read the first post in this series, click here.

8 thoughts on “Why should we teach our children to work?”

  1. Ramona Bloodgood

    Susie..this is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing truth. My parents taught us to work hard, and they showed us the joy that comes from that. We also had times to rest and play. I’m so thankful for learning that as I grew up. We taught our children that, too. And even now, although vacation time is fun, there’s nothing that brings a sense of fulfillment like a day of hard work or jobs completed. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Ramona! Thanks for sharing how work has been a blessing in your life and how you’ve passed that onto your children! You are right, that sense of fulfillment after a day of hard work is worth it! My kids will moan and groan over a sheep working day, yet when it’s complete and we all sit down to enjoy a hard earned meal together – I see that sense of accomplishment and joy in their spirits!

  2. Had to laugh at the irony: teaching our children to work hard… is hard work! I totally agree! It is easier most times to do it myself rather than bicker with them. It’s harder to be patient, loving, kind, firm, organized, thoughtful and age appropriate in what I ask them to do. And each child is different and responds differently, which requires us to be creative and flexible. Yet we don’t want them to miss the opportunity to ENJOY the work that God has planned for them to do in this life. This will take much practice! Thanks for walking us through this topic Susie! “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

    1. Yes, you are so right Cathy about being creative and flexible with each kid responding differently. Thanks for your encouragement and verse!

  3. Tamara Lynn Ranval

    Great blog Susie!!! I completely agree with you. I was taught hard work and I learned to have great work ethic. There is nothing better (except maybe being in the lake) LOL…..but nothing better than finishing a project and having that accomplished feeling!!
    French has been off every other week (work is slow) and we have been getting SO MUCH DONE!!! It feels wonderful. We cleaned out the garage and garage attic, all my windows, our gardens. Lots of work but our garden is beautiful. We feel so blessed to be ABLE to do all of this still. Mom is a great example of “keeping on going”! She inspires me so much!!
    I think people Cottle their children WAY TOO MUCH. So they never learn how to feel good about working.
    Great post and I cannot wait to read your others. I haven’t been on the computer much this summer cause we are too busy, but I saved all of your blogs and I am going to read ALL OF THEM!!
    God bless you sweetie, You are awesome!! I am coming to visit you guys. Leaving Sept. 4th. coming back Sept. 11th (which kind of freaks me out) (:
    So I will be there for a week!!! Yay!! I cannot wait to see you sister!!

    1. Thank you Tammy! Sounds like you have been busy – but I know how good that feels to get all those things accomplished! I’ll look forward to seeing you again this Fall! I’ll pray for safe, uncomplicated travel for you!

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