learning how to work

On Tuesday I was among the pool of jurors who received questioning from the judge for a specific trial set for this week. I was seated in the jury box along with 12 others, behind a row of alternates. We each had to introduce ourselves to the judge. The introduction that struck me the most went something like this, “My name is Bee. I’m 22 years old. I don’t have a job. I don’t want a job. I just wanna be free to live my life. I enjoy sports – football, basketball, running… I work out about three hours a day. I played football for Hamline University, but I dropped out because of too much debt….” He went on to talk about recent fishing trips, and his two dogs.

“How do you feed your dogs if you don’t work?” the judge asked him. I was relieved the judge had said something that might make this boy think, but based on his response, I was afraid the comment was lost on the poor soul.

The incident got me thinking about how parents pass along a value for work. One way is by example. It also helps to assign children responsibilities around the home so that they feel they are contributing members of the family and see first hand how each person contributes for the benefit of all. I also turn to books to reinforce important values.

Last evening we read the book One Hen by Katie Smith Milway. It is an inspiring story of a young boy in Ghana who gets a loan to buy a hen. He sells the extra eggs from the hen and saves the money to buy another hen. After he builds his flock to several hens, he saves money so he can return to school. As we were reading, my son asked if we could get chickens just like the boy and sell them at the market, just like the boy did. At the end, we both enjoyed reading about the real boy whom the story is based on, a boy who was young and struggling when someone gave him a chance.

Perhaps that was Bee’s problem. He’d never had the opportunity to struggle. Everything had been too easy for him. Now, how do I ensure my boys don’t suffer from that same syndrome?

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4 thoughts on “learning how to work

  1. Let kids struggle with little things even if it frustrates them. Encourage them to keep trying when it is hard. I do think example is the biggest factor in teaching children.
    I will have to look at for this book…it sounds like something I could share with my students at school.

  2. What a thoughtful post. My favorite is this: “He’d never had the opportunity to struggle.” I think I am quick to take away any sort of struggle/stress from my daughters’ lives but then, how will they learn? How will the be sure of themselves? I don’t want to create anxious human beings….or beings who don’t see it necessary to find something they are good at so they can struggle with the rest of the world. Thank you for this post!

    • I can think of at least three incidents when I was expecting (or at least hoping) that my dad would have come to my aid but he didn’t. At the time I was so disappointed, but the lessons learned have stuck with me in a way they never would have if he had. Of course, there’s also a time for grace. Knowing when each approach is best requires wisdom, I believe.

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