This is an interesting proposition. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to get my children to love work and to have the tenacity of character that it takes to push on when things get hard. I've tried different charts and set goals -- the usual things we parents try to do to motivate our kids. None of those attempts really seemed to have much long term stick-to-it-ive-ness. The most successful motivator for hard work that I have found doesn't require dolling out stickers for charts but does require some effort on the part of parents. Ready for this? Pay them for it (and let them see you getting paid for your work as well.) I'll break it down for you …
1. Don't buy them anything new unless it is their birthday or Christmas
Other than clothes and shoes, my household rule is that the kids have to save their money to buy any extra items they want. Introducing this principle has taught all 3 of my kids some unexpected lessons. Not only have they learned how to work hard for their treasures, but also what it's like to experience buyer's remorse. When they are spending their own money it becomes much more precious! They have also experienced the joy of seeing their money grow slowly over time, how to borrow from one another (and pay back their loans) and how to write up a contract with each other to make sure that they get paid back : )
Living in a somewhat affluent suburb, I can't stress enough how many times I hear people complain to me that their kids are lazy and don't want to take them up on their offers to pay them for yard work or washing the car. My response is, "Why would they when everything they want is given to them?"
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. I've watched my 14-year-old plan how many times he will have to mow our lawn, identify chores around the house that need care that nobody can get to, and wake up at 5:30 am to help me at art shows. All of this, just so he could buy a GoPro extreme sports camera. Not buying it was the best thing I could have done! Deprivation of non-necessity items is the No. 1 way to have kids feel the joy and rewards that come from hard work!
2. Let them see you earning money
Here is where it gets a little more challenging. Over the past 5 years I have taken my children with me to countless art shows and markets. They have watched me host open houses for classes I teach and looked over my shoulder at my computer while I worked on designs for clients. They have moved my art supplies off the dining room table so that we could sit down for dinner. They have at times asked potentially back-handed questions like, "Someone is paying you to make that?" and "Why don't they just do it themselves?" which spur on conversations. Conversations about why someone might pay for a service they don't want to (or can't do) themselves. We've talked about how to price things, how to market things, what the value of time is worth and of course how to present your work. They have gradually learned to give invaluable feedback on my art and design in a kind and constructive way. They have seen me be teachable and willing to take suggestions when appropriate. Most importantly, they have watched and smiled when I get a check in the mail, land a big job or get tuition payments from students.
I know that not everyone has the luxury of working from home, but that does not entitle families who work outside the home to have a free pass on No. 2. You just may have to get a little more creative on this one to help them make the connection. When payday comes around for my husband, we thank God for a full fridge of groceries that were bought because of his job. My husbands talks at dinner with us about his work challenges and successes. The kids ask questions about his job and his co-workers. They are genuinely curious about these dynamics. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 says, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies." Love that one!
Not only should kids see us earning money, but understand how we spend money. My parents were very private about their finances and while I'm not suggesting telling your kids what your household income is, I do think there is something to be said for a little more transparency than perhaps our parents had. Why should we always hide what things cost or what expenses we have from our kids? I think that the more we can connect the dots for them between hard work and what it buys us, the better! It is important for kids to learn about the costs of living, to see us waiting on certain purchases, celebrating paying off debt and not going out to eat when our entertainment budgets have been spent. Proverbs 13:4 tells us that, "The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied."
3. Let them help you with your work and share in the profits
Lastly, whatever your job is, share it with your kids and pay them a small wage for their help. This has probably been the most rewarding aspect of my work. My kids know that I will pay them 10 percent of whatever I earn at an art show if they work hard setting up, restocking and selling. When one of them needs money, they come to me and ask if I need help with anything because they are saving toward this or that.
If given a little thought, every legitimate profession has something that can be shared. If you are a realtor, let them put stamps on your mailouts. A salesman? Take your child to a business meeting and get their read on your client afterward. A postal worker? Show them your route and see if they could think of a faster way. If you are a police officer, teach them to identify suspicious behavior and let you know if they see anything shady in your neighborhood. My father was a cop and I loved when he would have us write down license plates numbers on cars he noticed around town that looked suspicious! That little bit of involvement opened the door to conversations and I was always excited at dinnertime to learn details about what he did when he left each morning!
How do you share your life's work with your children? Comment below:
Some additional great bible verses to share with your family:
Proverbs 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Whether I am working with a client on their brand identity, teaching students or creating a watercolor piece, I hope to refresh and inspire others with my work. Read more ...