Teaching Our Children the Value of Work

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There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether children today are more self-centered than children of previous generations. Researchers such as Dr. Jean Twenge argue that not only are they more self-centered, they are also more miserable. Parents are perplexed by the research. "Have we not given our children everything they need to be happy?"
As parents we feel the constant pressure to indulge our children in sports and after school activities. We watch as other parents race their children back and forth across town to classes, clubs, sports, and academic advancement programs. When we opt out, other parents apply pressure, "Aren't you going to put Jessica in soccer this year?"

To be honest, I have never seen an extra curricular activity I didn't like. From horseback riding, to karate, baseball, swimming, math team, dance, and soccer, I happen to think they're all great. But involving our children in too many of these activities keeps them from learning the most important lesson they will need for future success: the value of work.

Teaching a child to work begins at an early age. I imagine that dual income families have an easier time recognizing this because they simply can't do everything with the limited time available at the end of the day. But those of us at home might make the mistake of thinking all the chores at home are our duty and feel guilty even considering asking our children for help. Think again.

Sociologists Scott Coltrane and Michele Adams found that school-aged children who do chores with their fathers get along better with peers and have more friends. They also found that they are less likely to disobey teachers, cause trouble at school, and are happier and more outgoing.

I've known parents who require their children to do chores only when they behave badly. While I have no problem with using chores as punishment, children should still be expected to participate in the operation of the household on a regular basis regardless of behavior. Chores, while not always pleasant, are an essential part of life.

Always keep in mind that you are raising a future mother, father, and spouse. What you teach them about the division of chores will be carried with them into their own families. So get started early. Your role in life is not to be a pathetic martyr. If you'd like to teach your son to never lift a hand once he is married, then do everything for him now. If you want to suggest to your daughter that being a mother is dreary and dirty work, do everything for her today. However, if you'd rather teach your kids that a family needs to work together to serve each other, then give them age-appropriate tasks as soon as they are able to handle them. In doing so, you will teach them the value of work.

Copyright (c) 2007 Christine Conners About the Author:
Christine Conners is the author of several books including "From High Heels to Bunny Slippers: Surviving the Transition from Career to Home". Christine is a psychotherapist and mother of four who is helping at-home parents "bloom where they are planted". Visit Christine at: http://www.booksbyconners.com/bunnyslippers.htm

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