This is the first installment in a series of posts written from one mother to another. My thoughts come from my own journey of failures and victories as a mother. My desire is to encourage young mothers to train their children, teach them to walk in the ways of the Lord, and to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind. We need to remember that our goal should be to not only train upright citizens who will make a positive contribution to society but to also raise up a generation of soldiers who will fight in God’s army.
This post is written from my perspective of life on the farm and on the road as I observe my own children and many other families that we have met in our travels. It is a collection of tips which may help your children in the endeavor to enjoy whatever work they are called to do.
Just so you know, I agree wholeheartedly with the following Scriptures:
“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lamentations 3:27
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” II Thessalonians 3:10
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
They are the foundation for how we have trained our children. God’s ways have always worked and always will!
- Teach your children when they are young. Any child capable of dumping a basket of toys is certainly able to pick them up again. Now some cheerful words and a parent’s helping hand will do much to make your training more effective. Buy a little broom and dustpan so your child can work beside you as you sweep the floor. Most children love water-let them slosh as they rinse the dishes. Setting the table and clearing the dishwasher are great chores to teach your 3 or 4 year old that they must work before they eat.
- Be consistent in what you expect your children to do. At our house, most of the boys started feeding the calves when they were about 6 years old. Within months, I could see that this responsibility had a very positive effect. Having a chore that needs to be done twice a day at a specific time, rain or shine, cold or hot, whether we had guests or not, regardless of their desire to feed the calves by the appointed time, had a way of maturing them in all of life. This responsibility taught them that they could do a job in spite of their feelings. So you don’t live on a farm? Then get creative-assign a child to prepare breakfast or dinner everyday, have them do a quick bathroom cleanup every morning before breakfast, run a paper route, or buy chickens or calves to feed. Before we milked cows, we bought some calves and chickens for the sole purpose to provide work for our young children (6-7 yrs old). We never actually kept good records but I am quite sure we lost money on these “projects” but that didn’t matter. If need be, I would volunteer my children to mow an elderly person’s yard or remove the snow from their sidewalk for free just so they would have some work to do. You could also turn your garage into a small mechanic shop or woodworking shop. By all means, plant a garden! This is an excellent way to teach your children the rewards of hard work. Is there anything sweeter than a cherry tomato picked fresh from your own garden? BTW, you don’t have to live on an acreage to have a garden. Make a raised bed, plant vegetables in your landscaping, and put potted vegetable plants on your porch or patio. (There will be a separate post on the joys of gardening.)
- Teach them to work without pay. We have never given our children an allowance.(GASP!) BTW, one of sons just added his definition of an allowance-”Allowing your child to be lazy”. And I didn’t even ask for that!! We will not judge you if you give your children an allowance; this is simply the way we raised our 10 children. So everyday chores such as cooking, laundry, cleaning, garden work, feeding calves, etc. were always done without pay. We did, however; offer them additional work for a small or sometimes larger monetary reward. At our house this might be loading out hogs (not for the faint at heart!), doing the early morning milking (4:00 a.m.), trapping mice (what a nice relief for a mother who doesn’t enjoy living with mice or removing their dead bodies), painting a fence, doing an extraordinarily nasty cleaning job, digging thistles or dandelions, and more.
- Reward work. While this may seem like a contradiction to the previous point, it isn’t. Actually, my children told me this is something that helped them learn to enjoy work. On a hot, summer day I might tell them that I will set up the sprinkler after they weed and mulch the potatoes. Or I will give them a list of garden chores to do on a Monday and Tuesday then take them swimming on Wednesday. We have also watched a movie while folding laundry or listened to a story on cd while making salsa or canning pears. Let them learn that there are rewards for a job well done.
- If they complain about not liking a job, be sure they know that the job will be their responsibility until they can do it cheerfully on a daily/weekly basis. An example of that is Allison who used to dislike dusting in particular and cleaning in general. In spite of her aversion to this chore, she was assigned weekly cleaning jobs which stayed the same for many years. She will tell you that now she finds fulfillment in completing even difficult and some rather disagreeable jobs that she has encountered as an adult. We have had different jobs given to our younger children like clearing the dishwasher, taking out a bucket of scraps to the compost pile, and setting the table. I have assured them that the chore will not be given to a younger sibling until they can consistently do it cheerfully. Many times I have seen a 6 year old begin to find joy in a simple job which was done day after day.
- Promise them that there will be many times in life that they will have to do something they don’t like to do. Does anyone need further explanation on this?
- Remind them, when necessary, of the verse “He who eats must work”. Be creative in how you apply this verse to real life situations. A son told me that he thinks this was the first verse he learned! I thought it was Psalm 23. At the very least, you can make a child go without desert.
We have an entire generation that at best works only to receive wages and at the worst, is content to pick up their monthly welfare check. Teach your children to find a career in serving others through their daily work whether it be milking cows, being a Dr., doing janitorial work, serving as a politician, going to another country to be a missionary, being a mechanic, teaching school, or becoming the president of a company. Every job should be seen as a way to glorify God and to serve others while earning a paycheck.
I also believe that a person who has been taught the value of money through hard work, will be more likely to be a good steward of their finances.
So get started today! Be blessed with the fruit of your labors as you teach your children the rewards of a job well done.