Children need to learn the value of work

2012-06-29 00:00

IT’S easy to forget that good parenting includes honing your children’s abilities and attitudes toward work. As we and our home helpers prepare their meals, pick up their clothes and wash their dishes, we are communicating to our children that they are above these “menial” tasks. They are also not learning the fundamental skills that they require to help them survive on their own one day.

As a society, we seem no longer to view work as something to be proud of and worth excelling in for the sake of the task. Rather, it has become a necessary evil, something we have to do because we need to survive, and it gives us something to do between weekends.

How often have our children heard us grumble and moan about our days? They hear us groan about tasks we don’t want to do, complain about our work days, and count the days until the weekend.

When we realise that we are creating a generation of children who don’t think twice about throwing their crumbs on the floor or leaving their dishes lying around, with the attitude that someone else will clean up after them, we are on dangerous ground. As the South African economy struggles full time, domestic help may become unaffordable for many families in the future. How then will our precious children cope when it’s up to them to do these things?

It’s not unusual to hear comments from young men about how they cannot marry certain women because they can’t keep their houses clean.

Likewise, as families need to do more and more around the homes, our boys also need to know how to wash dishes and vacuum floors. Children should not see themselves as above these tasks, but rather see it as an honour to contribute.

Children mirror what their parents say and do. It’s within our power to create an atmosphere that celebrates, honours and upholds hard, manual work.

The training of the skills is something we can easily put our minds to, by designating specific responsibilities to different children, and once certain skills are mastered, parents may want to swop them around.

Create fun boot-camp days when you take time out to train them in how to vacuum, wash dishes and put their clothes away.

You may even want to choose a specific day of the week in which your children are responsible for making the family meal. The training of their attitudes can be more difficult, as the key lies in checking our own attitudes first.

• Joanne Madgwick is a parenting and educational consultant. Find out more about her at www.susaparent centre.com

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