Teaching Children That “Work is Good”

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Every parent would like to raise their children to be happy productive adults. Considering that work comprises more than half of the adult waking day, wouldn’t it be nice if we could guide our children to find fulfillment in their adult careers?

So many adults do not find fulfillment in their jobs. Many view work as what you do until enough nickels are saved after kids, mortgage, and tuition to last you through that window between retirement and the hereafter. We find ourselves trapped in our jobs that we perform out of obligation rather than any form of self-actualization.

This is what children see when parents come home each night with slumped shoulders; the workday etched on their faces. Believe it or not, they know why you are in that absent fog. After all, those little video cameras are constantly recording and children are constantly imprinting the message that work stinks!

Unfortunately, jobs previously reserved for children delivering papers and mowing lawns are, for the most part, gone. Without these jobs, children don’t have the opportunity to learn their own lessons by working independently outside the home and away from household chores.

We can tell children that “work is good” and explain how they contribute to society and are rewarded; but, what they see on our faces something very different and has a much stronger impression on them. It would have a far greater impact on our children to show them that work is good by seeking fulfilling careers ourselves.

Kurt Jordan was a bond salesman for various Wall Street firms for over 19 years. While many aspects of the business were interesting to him, after the first 10 years, he was burnt out and lost his desire to fight for his seat in a consolidating industry. He felt like a round peg in a square hole continually fighting for his right to milk the golden cow. He could only stare at a stack of trade tickets and try to rationalize how he contributed to society by facilitating market liquidity.

As Kurt puts it, “I knew it. My wife knew it. And, my children knew it. But how do you chase that blue collar spirit when you have those white collar bills? How could I recklessly toss my tie to the wind for some other career? Nope, too irresponsible and not enough courage!”

“For years, my wife and I had an idea for Mosquito Curtains, an elegant and cost effective alternative to permanent screening that we had been sitting on for years. Eventually, I decided to go for it rather than wait for that fateful tap on the shoulder telling me to step aside for younger meat.”

Fortunately, the family business took off and proved viable in a short amount of time. As a summer business, Kurt was able to give his young children jobs taping boxes, printing shipping labels, and packaging kits. The kids could hear the phone orders, participate in the production, and load boxes in the FedEx truck.