Teaching Our Kids About Work

Work is important in our family. David and I were both raised with strong work ethics, and it’s really a core value for us. It’s not that we don’t believe in leisure, but we really appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done, and we don’t shy away from something because it’s “too much work”. It’s important to both of us to to pass this on to our children, and that’s one of the reasons we farm. Neither of our (under 4-year-old) boys has any true chores yet, but they like to help with tasks both in the house and outside, and we’re encouraging that by offering praise and appreciation when they do.

We’re also setting the example. COVID has given us an opportunity to showcase not only farm work, but also my engineering work for the kids. I have to say, after a few weeks of mayhem, they really have done a good job of understanding work vs. play times when they have to be home on work days (we do make sure to schedule some of both). When the boys are home, we get our work done, whatever that looks like, and we involve them when it’s appropriate and safe to do so.

This evening, after naps and a quick snack, the boys and I headed to the milk barn (at their request, actually) to help David finish milking the cows. He was working on chopping silage this afternoon and had gotten a late start, so there were still a couple groups left. We spend a lot of Sunday afternoons in the barn. James likes to help move the cows, and Dominic likes to learn their names and talk, nonstop, about whatever pops into his head. They aren’t able to help much yet, but will do small tasks when asked. When it’s hot out, we’ve had a water table in the parlor for them to play with, and sometimes, they eat special snacks like popsicles in the barn. As a reward, they usually get to play in the yard after milking, but never until we’re finished.

Six years ago, before we had kids, I wrote a post about our culture’s views on work, and my fear that they generally differed from our own. Today, reflecting, I re-read that post. It still rings true. I still long for the America that stood for something, that at the end of the day had a clean consience and dirt under its fingernails, whose citizens were proud to call her home. I hope that we’re doing our part in raising future citizens who value our version of the American Dream – the one that takes a little elbow grease.

Here’s to hoping those innocent eyes see value in the work we do.

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