Teach a Child to Work, part 2

Childrearing is a topic close to my heart. I have had great success as a classroom manager and caregiver and I have a lot to say about child development, discipline techniques, and family culture. In this post, I am continuing my train of thought from the previous post, which comments on the work ethic in our society. There are many facets to be discussed, but for today I would like to advocate that parents consider paying their children for getting good grades.

This is not something my parents did for me, nor was it ever a topic of discussion. School came easily to me and I continue to work hard for its own sake. It is only in thinking on this topic in the larger context of our culture that I see the value in this idea.

I fully believe children need to work hard and take responsibility simply because they are a part of society. These values can best be taught at home in contributing to the family home and caring for his or her own room. No adult gets paid for doing chores, but is instead required to care for his or her own space for health and practical reasons. In the same way, children can certainly clean their room, do the dishes, and help with various chores in order to learn to do work for the sake of work and maintenance.

However, when a person becomes an adult and takes on a job or profession, that person is rewarded for his or her efforts. You do the work, you get a check. A person of strong character takes pride in their work and chooses to show his or her own character by performing well, regardless of the recognition. In an ideal world, that performance is recognized and rewarded. Holding or doing a job is for the sake of a result – serving a company, furthering one’s own career, and earning a paycheck.

As a child, the counterpart of this is going to school. Yes, it is necessary and required to go to school, but holding a job is usually necessary and required as well. Earning an education and working for grades is excellent for personal development, but is generally intended to eventually help a child be interpersonally and financially successful in life. Good grades lead to good college, good college leads to good job, good job leads to financial security. Alternately, learning certain skills (such as a trade) and applying those skills comes to the same end of making a living. So doesn’t it make sense to begin instilling this understanding at a young age? If a person does good work and pushes him or herself, this usually results in greater responsibility and reward. Therefore, if a child shows dedication to school, exerts effort in study and projects, and ultimately gets good grades, it makes sense that child can learn to view their schoolwork as their profession and earn a paycheck, just as they will be doing for the rest of their lives.

Conversely, if a person simply shows up and does minimal work, they get the minimally required compensation and might possibly lose their job and references, thus damaging their ability to earn a living and have the things they want and need. Therefore, if a child simply goes to school – or sometimes chooses not to go – and does the minimal work, it makes sense the child earns the consequences of this behavior. These consequences might include more child-friendly results, such as grounding or other consequences, but practically could also include withholding less necessary novelties, such as gaming systems, name brand clothing, snacks, new items (as opposed to used) and other items that a person with a lower income would not be able to afford. The intention of this view isn’t to inflict punishment, but to instill an understanding of how life works. It should also teach the child to recognize what is necessary for life (a place to live, clothes to wear, healthy food to eat, the ability to get where you need to be, paying bills) and what things are novelties that a person only gets if they have succeeded in providing the necessities (a night out at the movies, the latest fashion, chips and candy, and various entertainment). Many financial experts also have things to say about how to teach a child to manage money, such as giving some and saving some, which are also valuable skills.

My point here is not to make a child’s life militant or all about the grades. Even as adults we need to find a work-life balance. In my own life, I am blessed to be in a place where I have minimal expenses so I only need minimal pay. This is allowing me to be available to care for and homeschool my nephew, while also teaching some dear friends. I am very busy and put in the work, but the majority of my effort is not paid. It is something I do because I love it and I see the value in the work, apart from the money. I am also protecting Saturday as my one day per week that I do not go anywhere. I currently work six days per week and I know that I need to have some alone time to preserve my ability to be kind and have a good attitude at work. Career is not a priority for me, unless you count my passion as a teacher, which I am doing mostly for free these days. Work-life balance is very important and I adamantly do not want my life to be spent on the job. Likewise, children should be given the majority of their time to play and they should be able to create memories in safe and positive ways. Parents are available to carry most of the burden in childhood, and I fully believe in letting kids be kids.

Yet they won’t always be. As children grow and move closer to adulthood, it seems wise to instill practical skills that will help them in their futures as they make the transition between childhood and adulthood. Rather than letting them live a free-for-all life as a child and then throwing them into a world where they don’t know how to care for themselves, be responsible, manage their money, and improve their status, we can give them the principles along the way to help them as they grow and which they will eventually be able to teach to their own children. This is how we will help our society maintain strong and responsible values.

My Own Fault

This morning I had a doctor appointment for a routine physical, but when I got there, the receptionist asked me to reschedule.

Of course I was upset. I took the day off for this. I got up early, skipped breakfast, and shaved my legs! I made this appointment a month ago, knowing that my first appointment was going to be an introduction and I would be asked to come back for the physical, so I had scheduled them both at the same time to prevent having to wait. Now I would have to wait a whole extra month to get this done. I was irritated for the rest of the day!

The thing is that I know it was my own fault. I thought the appointment was at 11am, when it was actually at 10am. When I showed up at 10:40, they had already marked me a ‘no show’ and moved on to the next person in the crowded waiting room.

I could have whined and gotten angry. I certainly felt like it. I could have begged to be squeezed in, causing the staff to fall behind schedule and resent me. Instead I took my new appointment card and walked away.

This reschedule was a consequence of my irresponsibility. I should have answered my phone when they called for a reminder. I should have listened to my voice mail. Because I don’t like talking on the phone, I usually ignore calls that come in, unless I know I want to talk to the person. I avoided voice mail because I was lazy or I figured it was a telemarketer or I thought it might be work calling me in. I did wonder later why I didn’t hear a reminder call. When I checked the appointment I had entered into my outlook calendar, I saw I hadn’t put in the time, so I assumed it was at 11. I should have realized that the 11 stuck in my head was the date, not the time. Because my head likes patterns, if I had thought about the appointment being on the 11th at 11, I would have realized that two 11s didn’t seem right. Ten am on the 11th sounds more correct.

I have been on the opposite end of situations like this. I have been an office worker dealing with people who didn’t take responsibility for themselves. More recently, I regularly deal with people who don’t read signs and coupon print and then want a discounted price. If I had thrown a fit and demanded what I wanted, it would have been selfish, childish and unfair. It may not have been possible in the first place but it would at least have been unpleasant for everyone involved and probably many people behind me.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes it’s possible to have it fixed, in which case we should be very very grateful to the person who helps us out. It’s not fair for them to do that. What is “fair” is for us to fall into the order of things and get what we earn. Today I earned a reschedule because I should have kept better track of my responsibility. This appointment was for my own benefit in the first place and was a service to me by the office. My failure to show up was a waste of their time. Why should they further inconvenience themselves just because I don’t want to come back in a month?

So I am taking deep breaths and sucking it up. My emotional disorder causes this to be an even bigger disappointment to me than it should be, but at least my head knows that I have no one to blame but myself.  I choose to take this as a learning opportunity. Write down appointment details. Answer the phone. Check your voice mail. Read the fine print. Take responsibility to for own mistakes. And be grateful for people who give you a help out.

Teach a Child to Work, part 1

Life is about work. Life is about attitude. Both things come easier to some than others, but most successful individuals – regardless of how they define success – will confirm that you get out what you put in and hard work is rewarded.

Unfortunately our culture has forgotten this. As a preschool teacher, I am right in the middle of the liberal culture which is destroying these values. While there are children in the world who are required to walk miles just to get enough water to make it through the day, the children in the United States are given awards for having their name on a roster, and the adults they become are given allowances to buy candy and soda. This is not the way life is meant to work. Even if handouts are available, someone still has to foot the bill for them. Consolation trophies are paid for by organizations or coaches, food stamps are paid for by working citizens, free school lunches are paid for by the school district… which is paid for by working citizens. Nothing is free and what is fair is for each person to be responsible for themselves, and then to be generous to others.

I recently met a couple who is expecting their first baby. They had just come from a parenting class, offered free through a liberal community college in my area. This couple told me that the instructor discouraged the use of consequences for young children. They actually said something to the effect of “Adults live in a world of action and consequence, but young children don’t understand this”. This parenting class advocated that parents work on reasoning with their young children and save consequences for when the child is closer to eight or nine and is able to understand how their consequences relate to their actions.

There are not enough words or punctuation in the English language for me to communicate how absurd this is! Young children cannot understand reasoning. They don’t even speak English! What they do understand is experience and one of the first lessons a child learns is cause and effect, beginning with learning that they get what they want by crying, to watching a block tower fall over when kicked, to experiencing the results of their behavior.

A child’s personality will determine the way they naturally react to situations, how they approach life, their natural work ethic, and their temperament. While no one can change who a person is, a parent’s job is to work with a child’s personality to shape their character. As a matter of fact, studies show that a child’s personality is often established by age three. If a child is not taught to obey and submit himself as one small part of a larger society, there comes a point where it is too late. Certainly age eight or nine is way past that point.

I am now seeing the results of these thoughts on childrearing. Commonly referred to as “millenials”, the first generations of these softly-raised children are entering the workforce. Due to economic fluctuations, as many as five generations worth of workers are working alongside each other in the same workplace. Childcare is a prime example of these types of workplaces. While the grandmotherly-type is cuddling the babies in the infant room, high school students are popping in after school to play with the “cuties” in the toddler room. The differences in work ethic are palpable. In general, the older or more conservatively raised teachers are dedicated to their students, take ownership of their classrooms, have great attitudes about their responsibilities, and are faithful to a fault. In contrast, many of the younger or more liberal teachers (including those who are raising their own children in the same soft manner as we are discussing here) do minimal work, have excessive absences, complain about their responsibilities, and expect a pay raise after sorry performance. As our culture continues to embrace these attitudes, all areas are suffering, including increased crime; poor care of possessions; lack of motivation to further education and career resulting in fewer professionals, artists, scientists, and mathematicians; lack of standards and values; and overall reduced quality of life.

Hard work and responsibility need to be foundational in a child’s life in order to set them up for future success. As a preschool teacher, I have come to realize that the most valuable lessons I teach my young students are not about letters and numbers. These are foundational concepts that I certainly introduce, however, young children under the age of five or six are not always at a place of understanding how these concepts work. What they do learn from preschool is being part of a social setting. They are learning to work together, to follow social conventions, and to accept group learning. These are all forms of discipline which will feed into their continued success in school, from attending to and obeying what their teachers say, to understanding that a group lesson is meant for them personally, to developing strategies to be successful learning what they (as an individual) need help with.

Childrearing is a topic close to my heart. I have had great success as a classroom manager and caregiver and I have a lot to say about child development, discipline techniques, and family culture. However, one suggestion arose as I was thinking through this post. I would like to advocated that parents consider paying their children for getting good grades.

For the sake of keeping this post to a readable length, I will expand on this in my next installation.


Sin is Not just What We Do

This webpage is really fun and helpful!


It also feeds into something I have been thinking about lately. What is sin?

The way we usually think of sin is that it is doing something that is bad. It is a word that makes people bristle. How dare you tell me I am wrong? How dare you claim I am going to hell for this thing or that thing? How dare you claim I can’t do what I want?

Of course, certain acts are sinful. Almost everyone would agree that murder is heinous and wrong and deserving of punishment. There are other acts that God says are sinful that our world doesn’t want to accept, from saying a bad word to having sex outside of marriage. But sin isn’t only something people do. Sin is a state of being. It is anything that is contrary to who God is, how He intended the world to be and what He wants for us.

The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. This means that we just don’t get it right. The Bible also says “all our righteousness are as filthy rags”. This means that even when we are doing our best it isn’t quite right. Jesus said to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. We know we aren’t perfect. We can’t. This is what it means to be a sinner. We fall short of God’s perfection. Sometimes this means we did something wrong and need to make amends/atone/apologize/receive consequences for our behavior, and sometimes it means that we don’t quite measure up, not because we did anything in particular. It’s our human nature; imperfection. The standard is God. That we are not able to meet His standards of Good and Best is what it is to be a sinner.

Sin can be an act, like murder or theft. But truthfully, sin is a force. It affects everyone and everything. Every imperfection and complication in our world is a result of sin. The Bible says even Creation groans under the weight of sin. This doesn’t mean that trees are sinners, but they are imperfect. They feel the result and consequences of the force of sin being in the world. The earth is not as God intended. Damage and disease ravage plants, animals, people. It is not a sin to have a disease, but it is a result of sin. Most likely not the result of individual sin (it might be possible the act of not caring for your body might cause cancer), but most likely it’s just a consequence of genetic or environmental imperfection – the presence of the force of sin.

This is not to minimize our responsibility. There are so many facets to this. We are “grandfathered” into sin because Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. That is where we got our sin nature and how the earth and genetics, etc were affected. This is sin nature. This is why babies are born sinners. However, we are personally guilty because we often know the right thing and choose not to do it. I, for one, literally have discussions with myself and often conclude “aw, screw it” and do the wrong thing on purpose. Also, we are affected by other people’s sin and suffer those consequences, such as losing a loved one to someone’s sin of murder, or suffering an STI due to a spouse’s sin of adultery. We also choose to accept other people’s sin and allow our culture to be changed to “tolerate” sin. Though sin is a force, we still make it worse and often on purpose. We are guilty. The point here is that we are powerless to stop it.

As it relates to this webpage, languages are a result of sin. LANGUAGES ARE NOT SIN. They are beautiful and are useful for communication, finding a job, and worshipping God in specific terms. However, languages originated at the Tower of Babel. People were trying to build a tower that would reach heaven, with the intention of becoming equal with God. The attitude of trying to become God instead of submitting to God was an act of sin. As a punishment, God caused all those people to speak different languages so they couldn’t talk to each other and come up with anymore sinful ideas together. Since they couldn’t communicate, those people went separate ways and divided into the various languages and cultures we now have. If sin was not part of our world, and if this specific sin had not been committed, it is logical to say we would not have multiple languages. God never intended for us to be separated from each other. Because we are, despite languages being beautiful, they cause all kinds of complications, mainly confusion and prejudice. This is a prime example of how sin has affected our world.

My point here is this: it is essential for us to understand how sin has changed our world. The word sin does not always mean “you are bad and YOU SHALL BURN”! It does mean that God wanted better for us and it got screwed up. Furthermore, we continue to make it worse by not understanding how things really work around here, or just plain refusing to realize that there is a design. We don’t get to make up the rules. We don’t even get to “figure out” or “feel” the rules. God made the rules and He tells us what they are.

The amazing thing is that, instead of God saying, “Damn you all to hell!” He took it upon Himself to send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to make amends for all that imperfection. We can’t do it. We try to do the right thing and we fail. Or worse, we make up our own “right thing”. God’s grace gives us hope that things will be set right one day. When that happens there will be no more disease, heartbreak, imperfection, prejudice, pain, frustration, and even weeds in the flower bed! There might actually not be multiple languages, either, or, at least, we’ll all understand all of them because we will no longer be divided.

As you explore this webpage, I do hope you enjoy it and learn from it. It is interesting and beautiful. But let that cause you to be grateful to God because He made beauty from the confusion of languages, which actually are contrary to how God wanted things to be for us. That’s what God does. He is just and has to guide us, which sometimes means consequences, even punishment. But He weaves those things into great beauty and He takes it upon Himself to turn it around. He is just but He is good. Remembering that will give you a whole new perspective on everything.