Our entire family raked our lawn together today. This “all hands on deck” situation only happens once in a blue moon. It was fantastic! What would have taken me 6 or 7 hours working alone was finished in only 70 minutes. We were even able to jump over and do some of our neighbor’s yard – and he was very appreciative.

I think it’s important not only to make your kids work, but periodically to work alongside them.

(Note: I wrote this six weeks ago and posted it on Facebook. Now that I have a blog again, I’m periodically going to post some of the more popular stuff here)

Requiring your kids to work helps them to mature, to grow up to be contributors, to understand that we’re all in this together. The world needs more mature people, more givers and fewer takers. More cheerfulness and less whining. And how else can our children be adequately prepared to run their own households? Learning and practicing work skills at a young age sets them up for success later on. Taking care of a household is a bit more work than you realize when you’re a kid.

I think we do our kids a great disservice when we coddle them and do not consistently require them to contribute to the well being of our families in a substantial way. Lazy or self-centered kids are a huge parenting failure. But this failure does not have happen. Hard work is the answer! Oftentimes when I have to endure the unpopularity of standing my ground and insisting that our kids contribute, I think about their future spouses and how grateful those spouses will be when the romance wears off and they get into the difficult grind of life and realize that they have married a person who is a worker and problem solver, not afraid of rolling up his or her sleeves to get stuff done.

But assigning your kids chores isn’t enough. Working alongside your kids is important for two reasons. 1) There is a non-verbal bonding that occurs when we all work on a common project together. It’s an important relationship builder. Yes, they hate it at the time, that is true. But eventually they respect you for it and they will actually thank you for it. 2) Kids only learn how to work by being around workers. They need to learn how to work hard and without complaint. They need to see what it takes. In my mind, if you’re not a little out of breath sometimes when raking, then you’re simply not working hard enough. You need to attack the project, not dilly-dally around like some loser.

Hard work. If you don’t teach your kids about this, how are they going to learn it? Yes, you’ll get constant eye rolls and complaints, but here is the secret:

The more your kids HATE it, the more they NEED it.

My kids aren’t perfect (nor am I) but sometimes nowadays some of them jump right in and embrace their chores and strive to do a really good job. That is when I know my parenting is working – and ironically, that is when I ease up on them. But no easing up until they’ve proven they are responsible and they are good workers. That has to be proven over a sustained period of time. Once they prove that, I’m happy to back off and require a little less. Only when they embrace work cheerfully can I rest knowing that they are prepared for this facet of life.

We have a college aged son who works a part time job. He usually works 12-15 hours a week, sometimes a little more. This is more hours than almost all of his college friends. But he told me recently that he actually appreciates his job because he always has money. He feels rich. And he likes the fact that he is not always waiting for mommy and daddy to send him a check. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing to hear!