Sometimes a little child labor is good for kids

By Stew

My father used to say that the only reason that he had “kids was so he could have slaves”. We believed him. Sometimes while working on a project with my dad, I would request payment and he would say “you should be paying me”. Until recently, I never really knew what he was talking about.

When I was young and we pulled into the driveway, he would push on my shoulder and I knew that my job was to jump out of the car, run up to the garage and open the heavy door. I was the “garage door opener”. When the first couple of children (there is a total of five) were grown and on their own, automated versions of these “slaves” began to show up around the house. A dishwasher used to be a child standing at the sink with sleeves rolled up. When more children grew old enough to move off to college, a snow blower suddenly appeared in the garage. Then a riding lawnmower pulled in beside it. Here-to-for, such tasks were done the old-fashioned way. Of course the older children who were never able to benefit from such devices teased the younger children who were still at home for being spoiled.

Remember the old saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? My dad was a big believer. There were many times when we did not want to to the simple tasks that cropped up around the house because we were tired or ornery or lazy. Sometimes I would avoid my father, hiding in my bedroom basement on Saturdays because I knew that if he caught sight of me, I would be assigned another task.

Now that I have my own children, I realize that assigning household tasks to their children and enforcing completion was actually pretty hard for my parents. We often gave them grief about doing our chores, argued, complained quit early and tried all manner of ways to avoid our duties. I am certain that in most cases, it would have been easier for my parents to just do the job for us.

Now, I am so thankful that my parents taught us to work. The ability to work is theĀ  first step to financial freedom and independence. When I get together with my brothers and sisters we often compare notes about how kind our employers have been to us most of the time. Over the years, there have been few complaints about our work in terms of effort, faithfulness, diligence and perseverance.

It is probably likely that none of us are going to be rich, but we are thankful to our father for teaching us how to be valued employees. Looking back, we probably should have been paying him.

Article by Stew

Photo by Uriel 1998

6 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Sometimes a little child labor is good for kids”

  1. Josh Says:

    agree completely!

  2. Bucksome Boomer Says:

    Excellent post. I never reflected on what my parents taught us kids by making us do our weekly chores.

    We had four kids and the weekly assignments rotated. That way we knew how to clean every room of the house, wash the car, mow the lawn and cook.

  3. Bobby Guy Says:

    Sounds very similar to my upbringing except my dad never got a snowblower. I had to work harder than my older brother because dad used work as punishment for biting my fingernails or talking back. I quit biting my fingernails.

  4. Says:

    I agree work is good for kids. Problem is, most kids won’t work today. There are a few exceptions but I think most kids wont mow grass, rake leaves, wash cars, etc to make money during the summer… Our culture teaches that work is bad and should be avoided. And kids avoid it. So do some adults. This is why I think kids should not get an allowance. They should be taught that– work get paid, don’t work don’t get paid… just like the real working world works. Assign your kids some tasks around the house which they get paid for, in addition to ones they don’t get paid for.

  5. DDFD Says:

    I always joke with my kids and step kids that work around the house builds character . . .

    The thing is– it does. It also teaches them to do certain things. It also imparts a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.