Recession Gives Parents Chance to Instill Work Ethic

Filed under: Work Life

girl washing dishesLike most parents, Annette Kiesow now thinks twice before she buys her six-year-old son, Josh, a new toy.

"We talk about what things cost, and compare the prices of things when we're at the store," says the Merrimack, N.H. mom. "We talk about the things he has at home, and what they cost to buy, and he's beginning to appreciate their value."

Josh also does small household chores, earning a quarter for each job completed. Every so often the pair takes his earnings to the bank. "Half goes into his savings, and half into his wallet to spend on something he really wants," says Kiesow. "It makes him think hard about what to spend it on."

Kiesow is doing exactly what author and parenting expert John Rosemond advises: taking advantage of the recession to instill her child with old-fashioned values and a great work ethic. Rosemond urges parents to find the silver lining in the economic black clouds covering the country, pointing out that many of us create an "at-home entitlement program:" We dole out goods and services while our children relax.

Parents should view the economic collapse as a chance to erase the ills of over-indulgence: "I can't think of anything that would be better for America's future than kids who have less and work more," he says.

Let's face it -- we've spent the last eight years pampering our kids to death. What is it going to be like when they have to work hard to find a job? Or when they have to work even harder to keep it? Even the most persistent helicopter parent can't prevent a pink slip.

Working hard is a good habit to form, Rosemond adds, and he urges parents to dole out yard work and household chores to their children. Give them the chance to learn -- and value -- a good work ethic.

Our 4-year-old daughter is old enough now to start doing her own chores, like making her bed or taking her plate to the sink after dinner. I had to clear the dinner dishes and vacuum the stairs before I was allowed to play, and I was held responsible if I didn't finish my work. That sure came in handy when my first job as a newspaper reporter also required me to clean the bathroom once a week.

I'm as guilty as the next mom, though, of making life easy for my daughter -- I tidy up after her, and I fall victim to the "gimmes" when she asks for a doodad at the grocery store. Sometimes it's just to keep her quiet, but most of the time it's because I want her to have everything her heart desires.

A shrinking bank account makes "no" roll off the tongue a lot easier, and honestly, I'm not doing her any favors when I let her off the hook. It takes a lot of hard work to get what you want. Isn't it better to learn that now instead of later? After all, that's how we got into this mess in the first place.

Are you teaching your kids a good work ethic, or do you fund "parental welfare?"

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.