Found it in an old box of family photos….

Last winter, my sister Karen and I spent a morning going through boxes of old family photos  after we moved our parents into town.   My box of pictures and keepsakes has been sitting here next to my desk for the past month.   Decided last night to start sorting.  Came across  a couple of pieces of paper in my dad’s handwriting.  It was a story he’d recopied on the topic of  parenting.  (I’ll post that at the end).

Things were very tight the whole time our kids were growing up.   Sometime after we started home schooling, we decided to start a commercial cleaning business on the side with the older ones helping out.

I remember having conflicting feelings, a part of me thought it was brilliant,  and a teeny tiny part of me felt like a failure.  Asking our kids to help  out by empty trash cans, cleaning toilets, vacuuming, etc. so they would have  money to buy their clothes,  just seemed a little______?

Now that our youngest is 30, (and owns a commercial cleaning business of his own),  and I am  30 years removed from that season of our lives, I can see the fruit of those parenting choices in our children’s lives.   I have a completely different take on all of those memories.  All four of  our kids have turned into hard working, caring, loving adults, and it’s not because we were so brilliant and knew what we were doing.


I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants



time. 🙂

Life lesson:  Asking our kids to work/ not just dabble, but get in there and hustle, did not hurt them.  Those were their formative years, and being able to work hard as an adult now is something that sets them apart.

I ought to know.  As an employer, i t gets harder and harder to find people who know how to work.


Here is that story I came across:

Thoughts on Work, family, sacrifice from my dad’s perspective

A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company.  HE passed the initial interview and was going to meet the Director for the final interview.   The director saw his resume , it was excellent, and he asked, “Have you received a scholarship for school?”

The boy replied, ‘No.”

“It was your father who paid for your studies?”

“Yes” he replied.

“Where does your father work?”

“My father is a blacksmith.”

The director asked the young man to show him his hands.   The young man showed him a pair of hands soft and perfect.

“Have you ever helped your parents at their job?”

“Never.  My parents always wanted me to study and read more books’, besides he can do the job better than me. “

The director said,” I have got a request.  When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father and then come see me tomorrow morning.”

The young man felt his chance to get the job wasn’t high.  When he returned to his house, he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands.  His father felt strange, happy, but with mixed feelings and showed his hands to his son.  The young man washed his hands, little by little.  It was the first time that he noticed his father’s hands were wrinkled and they had many scars.  Some bruises were so painful, that his skin shuddered when he touched them.  This was the first time that the young man recognized what it meant for this pair of hands to work every day to be able to pay for his study.  The bruises on the hands were the price that he paid for his education, his school activities, and his future.  After cleaning his father’s hands the young man stood in silence and began to tidy up and clean the workshop.  That night, father and son talked for a long time.  The next morning, the young man went to the office of the director.

The director noticed the tears in the eyes of the young man when he asked him.  “Can you tell me what you did and what you learned yesterday at your house?”

The boy replied,” I washed my fathers hands and when I finished I stayed and cleaned his workshop.  Now I know what it is to appreciate and recognize that without my parents, I would not be who I am today.  By helping my father I now realize how difficult and hard it is to do something on my own.  I have come to appreciate the importance and the value of helping the family.”

The director said, “This is what I look for in my people.  I want to hire someone who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the hardship of others to do things, and a person who does not put money as his only goal in life.  You are hired.”

A child that has been coddled, protected and usually given what he wants, develops a mentality of “I have the right.” And will always put himself first.

If we are this type of protective parent, are we really showing love or are we destroying our children?  You can give your child a big house, good food, computer classes, a big screen TV.  But when you’re washing the floor or painting a wall, please have him experience that too.

After eating, have them wash the dishes with their brothers and sisters.  It is not because you have no money to hire someone to do this, it’s because you want to love them the right way….






15 thoughts on “Found it in an old box of family photos….

  1. Interesting views.
    Only that’s civilian life. Now think about an armed forces family.

    Born a service brat, the family trailed behind dad from base to base.
    Schooling was at best for 6 months in the same state or even the same country.
    It wasn’t uncommon for me and my peers to have attended the same amount of schools as we had years. As a result education was solid basic and either catch up or done that last month so BORING!
    So kids either survived education or, by sacrifice of the parents, were privately schooled.
    Yet could you ask of your ‘never there dad’ to do the same, to wash his hands to understand?

    I think not BUT most service kids grew up extremely resilient to change and usually highly self sufficient. You learned to make friends fast, to wave goodbye to them tomorrow, and home was where you lay your head. Traveling light without the trappings of a more ‘solid’ sort of life.

    As for a work ethic? If you lived on base you learned that by osmosis, the forces ethos.
    We learned to finish ‘the task’ assigned, work hard, and never give up.

    To achieve ‘solid and normal’ meant the family lived elsewhere and dad?
    Well this was a man who vacationed with you.
    I never knew that so never found out how separated when growing up turned out for the kids who attended their towns schools and all the rest that comes with stability.

    Then it came time to find your own place or work.
    Some chose to enter service (a safe bet).
    Others to look for stability in civilian life (Chuckle).
    For most that did they found it bemusing and having to deal with the chaos of civilian life a mystery.

    Yet some of my peers like me (then ex-forces) found getting civilian work wasn’t a problem. They too all worked flat out to finish ‘the task assigned’, worked till told to go home, and never gave up. The forces ethos.

    The only problem most of my peers and me found was coping with the boredom.
    How people can willingly do one job for years, on and on. (Shaking head).
    The grind, a weight, a job without a daily challenge.
    To most from my background factory work was akin to suicide for the soul.

    Yet there was an osmosis we all seemed to have.
    Adaptable, flexible, and quick to learn the norm.
    It’s been said to me that ex-forces make good self employment or as temps.
    Yep, probably.

    For those seeking 9-5, civilian employment opportunities was unpredictable but only because of the current political or the social mood at that time.

    Once, to be associated with or even be ex-forces was sought after because of that inbred work ethos and adaptability. The more diverse the job the better we threw ourselves into it and employers KNEW that.

    Then, in more recent times, society looked at anyone from a forces background as borderline psychotic and always suffering from some sort of PTSD hence dangerous to have around.

    I’ve been there for both and walked out of interviews as they started wondering out loud about coping with the stress of the job.
    Civilian employers wondering about your ability to cope with a pathetic workload that some of us were used to doing before breakfast let alone all day.

    Having said that, I never was unemployed for long (usually days) as were, the now very few left standing, peers I kept in contact with.

    Privilege and taking things for granted never existed.
    Most worked for a purpose and reward was just the offshoot of their labors.
    Or perhaps that’s just the civilian way. To take without knowing value.
    Having said that, there are a lot of civi kids I knew who had nothing and appreciated the value of everything. Those who knew work meant reward.

    I once worked for a company that would only ever hire ex-forces and them who knew poverty and wanted more. Hugely successful, deadlines were something everyone took a pride in achieving. Rewards came for those who excelled and innovated. The work was hard, varied, and you usually got the ‘professional temps’ version of training, 20 minutes and you are assumed trained. Plus you had bosses who sweated the same as everyone else.

    Sound idyllic? It was for some. Yet retention was a problem.
    A problem unique within the ex-forces.
    Used to change and challenge, the usual employment was a tad under two years.
    Some returned after a while but then the time back was shorter.
    For many who live by the kitbag, or on the edge, never truly settle.

    It’s not the whim that the grass is always greener somewhere else, or of something better, just the desire for new challenges in a different place.

    Something tells me this is all coming out wrong but that’s my experience Doug.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate your taking the time to describe growing up as military brat. Completely different than my youth as a farm kid, yet @ the same time, both experiences shaped us in ways we never realized until later as adults. I’m a much richer person for it, same as you…I think it’s fair to say we both grew up way earlier than our peers. Heck, a couple of generations ago, kids 14 or 15 were expected to do the work of a man, It wasn’t all bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, my friends were all the same, we all worked, cutting grass, digging veg plots, collecting golf balls, walking dogs, anything to earn something as money was always tight. Having said that , scrumping was something of an art form for me! Always going home with something, whether it was needed or not.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I always knew things were tight in our house, but never worried so much about having holidays or Dad driving a fancy car. We had the important things, 3 of everything in the clothes line, a decent warm coat, and good quality shoes on our feet. There was always a hot meal and we were a family. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood the sacrifices and short term loans (Provident cheque, small insurances) that I realised just how tough Mum and Dad had it. Paul and I had totally different backgrounds both childhood and working, yet we seem to have similar qualities and attitudes towards money. If we cant afford it, we don’t have it. Sadly many people today just go into debt for what they want and don’t seem to have any real concept of value.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t recall a time as a kid I didn’t have to work. Farm chores before school, after school….more grunt on the weekends, trapline in the winter…..
    At one point dad decided my brother and I might be getting soft – new plan? 40 push-ups before dinner every night.
    I got my first paying job in a grocery store at 13. Paychecks went into the farm. Yep – I raised my kids to do their share……didn’t hurt them any to work hard…..only issue I have with either of them, is reminding them that a day off now and again won’t hurt. They’re both workaholics. My son in particular- like me, has never learned to appreciate a break. Now when I look at the kids up and coming today – I think we’re doomed. That sense of entitlement can be read loud and clear. One extreme to the other.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 40 push ups before dinner. I’m impressed! In my heyday, I could do 50 in just over a minute…now that I’m older, even though my job is physical, I probably couldn’t do 5. 🙂 Didn’t realize you’d grown up on a farm…, did you milk? (the reason I am asking, we did, and knowing what sort of commitment it takes, pretty much scarred me for life, from ever having another house cow 🙂 and I know you guys have @ least one….Did Bruce grow up on a farm too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well when we were kids we weren’t much impressed with the push ups 😂
        No we didn’t have dairy on our farm…we did hogs, meat birds and canola (rapeseed back in the day). Funny – when you’re a kid you want to be anywhere but on a farm. We left to move closer to my moms parents in the Okanagan (city life) and I spent the next 25 years trying to figure out how to get back to farming 🙄. The dairy must be genetic – my mom’s family was made up of many generations of dairymen – tho by the time we moved nearer to them, my grandfathers dairy farm was long shut down. I actually use my grandmothers electric butter churn, still have a good selection of milk bottles from their farm and a bunch of their old order ticket books (people would set out the tickets with their empty jars on milk delivery day).
        I hear you though – we’ve two cows now….the work load is pretty intense – it’s certainly not for everybody. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh – and no – Bruce grew up in Vancouver – zero farming – his mom and dad wanted him to go to university and be a doctor 😁. He’s adopted – we sometimes wonder if his biological family might have been farmers – it’s all he ever wanted to do.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes. Yes. This is so great, thank you! Even though we aren’t left “wanting” for much, my daughter participates in all the farm life and chores. And she helps as my assistant for certain clients that I have. I schedule everything for her around that (and treat it as a REAL job, well it is) because I truly know that it benefits her as much, or more, as it does me and my client. I really needed this post right now as she recently had to say no to some things that came up in order to keep her responsibilities to the family/farm. It all worked out great in the end, but while we were in the “lesson” I sometimes questioned myself.💕

    Liked by 2 people

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