Tuesday, April 20, 2010

hard work and independence

Lately as my mind does it's regular getting-distracted-from-the-task-at-hand thing my thoughts keep jumping into this place in my brain called the "worry section."

This part of my brain is full to overflowing with worry of all sorts, but most prominent these days is worry about how to teach my kids to be hard workers. I worry about whether or not they really know how to do hard things. I worry about how to teach them to see what needs to be done, then roll up their sleeves and DO it.

To be honest, I'm scared for them. I think we live in a generation of giving our kids too much (just my humble opinion from my little, minuscule slice of life here in the desert...if you don't agree with me stop reading here). We're quick to jump in the car and drive them where they need to be, even if it's just around the block. We hand out money they haven't earned so they can go hang out with their friends. We pay for their camps and their lessons. They don't really own anything so they don't know what it means to really take care of things. They just ride along comfortably through life and get pampered.

And my question is this: what does that mean for their future selves??

Now, let me back up and say that of course, this scenario of "giving too much" is a vast generalization. Obviously not all kids are like that. My kids, in particular, do pay for a bunch of things themselves and are at least partially money conscious. They do their jobs around the house and they are relatively responsible. But is that enough?

I have two stories to share:

Story #1:
A couple months ago Max was running late for school. He had dawdled a little bit over his breakfast waffles and had forgotten to finish up a couple math problems the night before which had put him behind. As we rushed to pack up his lunch, he asked if I could drive him to school (he usually rides his bike). I took a deep breath wondering if I was going to be able to fit in everything else to help the girls get out the door in the next half hour if I took him up on his request. His school is super close...it would only take a couple minutes. I'd probably be fine on timing and it would be good to have him to myself for a few minutes. But Dave piped in and said no way. He assured Max he'd be fine on time, and if he wasn't maybe he'd learn to be sure to finish his homework earlier next time. And with that, Max left for school. No harm done. All was well.

Simple story, right? Nothing earth-shattering or mystifying about it; my child just got himself to school with no help from his push-over mother.

But I'm telling you, I keep thinking about this incident. I keep thinking how David (I'm trying to call him that instead of Dave) did Max a world of good by not letting me pamper him. And it makes me SO thankful. That little incident has changed how I think about a lot of things.

Story #2:
A few months ago I was talking to my friend about what life was like as we were growing up. She told me when she was younger she was dying to take gymnastics lessons. Her parents couldn't afford them so she went and got herself two little jobs to pay for it herself. Let me emphasize this: she saved up her pennies and put herself through gymnastics. And she learned so much from the experience.

Again, no over-the-top amazing-ness seeping out of this story. A girl saw her dream ready to pass her by and decided to do something about it.

I LOVE that story.

I can't stop thinking about that one either.

I want my kids to be that girl. I want them to know the victory of hard work. I want it to change the way they think and the way they act and the way they appreciate things.

I wrote about this here too, way back then and I'm still in a quandry about it.

It's on my mind all the time.

So the other night we sat our kids down and had a big talk. We will be easing off on the business of "pampering." And it's not because we don't adore them. It's precisely because we DO adore them and we want them to learn independence and hard work. We want them to lead happy, healthy lives and we don't think we'd be doing them any real favors by letting them live a life of luxury.

Wish us luck, and please, if you have any great "hard work" and "independence" ideas send them on over.
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