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
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….