My aunt recently went on a job interview where the interviewer asked her at what age she got her fist job. This employer believes he’s stumbled onto something of genius. If a potential employee didn’t see their first day of hired labor until the age of 18 or later, they don’t get the job. Why? Because he believes it effects their work ethic. Maybe you think this guy is cookoo for coco puffs, or maybe you think he’s onto something, either way, there is a lot to be said for teaching your kids the value of hard work at an early age.
I work with kids on a regular basis, and there is a distinct difference between kids who are simply made to clean up their toys and kids who are not. It’s very evident. So if this one small work ethic of “I get something out, I clean it up” has such an impact, imagine the impact of a kid who didn’t just realize that it is their job to be responsible for themselves and the messes they make, but that they are responsible for their whole family, their homes, their communities, their schools, their churches…imagine the kind of others minded, outward thinking people those kids would grow up to be? It would be Advantageous!!!
A few Sunday’s ago at church the JR High service let out and I watched as a slew of 12-14 year old’s stepped over a paper cup on the floor pretending it wasn’t there. I finally stopped a group of boys and asked “do you guys not see that cup on the ground?” Of course I got the standard “I didn’t see it”. They saw it…They just thought someone else would pick it up, because they didn’t want to, and didn’t care, because they have no stake in that building, that cup being there didn’t effect them.
So how do we change that mentality? It’s grueling…And yet even still, they are kids, who keep having to be reminded that the world does not revolve around them. I’ve spent my children’s entire lives trying to them understand that this family isn’t about them, it’s about all of us and that just being born does not entitle them to anything. I could not be more proud of my 16 year old for just buying half of her first car, she worked long hard hours at her first job this summer to do it. But then again, she knew she wasn’t getting a car if she didn’t. It’s not that we couldn’t afford to get her a car, we could. But we wanted her to have ownership, we wanted her to have stake in the game. I’m not even saying you have to make your kid buy half of their car to get it, that’s just the method we chose. But we do our kids a HUGE disservice if everything is handed to them without having to work for any of it.
In my job I’ve had the privileged of having several interns over the years, and on more than one occasion I’ve been their very first job. I’ve watched young adults bust into tears when they are told they didn’t do something well, or be not so excited about having to clean up throw up or cut out 90 stars, and I always think “this is so GOOD for them”, because it is. Heck, those kinds of things are good for me. It reminds us, that we aren’t the center of what’s going on in the world around us.
If my kids have heard me say “you get allowance because we love you, you do chores because you live here” once, they’ve heard me a billion times. So you start cleaning up your toys with mommy as soon as your old enough to start taking them out. I can remember grabbing books with their little fat hands and helping them put them back on the shelf. At 5 your old enough to start spraying down windows and mirrors with vinegar water and wiping them with a towel. At 7 dusting and pooper scooping. By 10 your doing the laundry and cleaning bathrooms, by 12 raking (mowing for the boy) or even starting dinner. At 15, you can get your first summer job, unless you don’t want a car. Why? Because we want them to have buy in. We ALL do a chore every night, because we ALL live here. Matt and I work, the kids go to school, and we ALL make the house run. Everyone has a part to play in making this family work.
The same goes for the neighborhood, the church, even their schools. If we can teach our kids that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, we may have a chance at creating non self absorbed, entitled narcissistic adults…Quite the contrary, we may have a chance at creating adults that make a difference in the world around them.