Thursday, October 27, 2011

Work: More than Economic Value

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image source--a great article on work


Work, work, work. A lot of our efforts as a society seem to go into finding ways to reduce the work we have to do--either by eliminating it or by making it easier. Oh yes, I love my inventions that have come as a result. Thank you dishwasher inventor. Thank you to the evolution of the washing machine. I can't say enough good for my iRobot Roomba. I am waiting for someone to invent my iRobot Folda for my laundry!

Or am I?

Sure...if it is just me doing work around my house I would love a folda. It isn't just me, however. Nor is it just my husband and me. We have three little people in our home we are in charge of raising, and I think work is an essential part of our raising plan.

"People who see only the economic value  of family work miss what some call the 'Invisible Household Production'--the potential of family work to transform lives, to forge strong families, to build strong communities" (The Parenting Breakthrough page 18). 

I was reflecting on why I love this above quote so much. Why is it I value hard work so much and believe it does more than just "get things done." Sure, I like a clean house, but I can get a clean house in a lot of easier ways than involve my children in the process. And if it was just about a clean house, I could even hire out the cleaning. It isn't about the end product--the economic value. It is about what children learn along the way. Here is my short list for why I work with my children:

1. Help them learn how to do these things--achieve independence
2. Spend time together 
3. Stay out of trouble
4. Learn that things of value take effort

Learn How
One basic reason I work with my children is so they learn how to do work. Some day, they will move out of my house and into their own residence. They need to know how to take care of their home--and they need to know how to do it frugally. Yes, I could pay someone to come clean my house, but how long (if ever) will it take my child to get to that point financially? 

Yes, I have my iRobot Roomba, but you know what? As much as I adore that thing, we mostly sweep. Why? Because I think my children should learn how to sweep. So each night after dinner, two members of the family sweep the floor. 

Basics. I want my children to be able to do these things for themselves. I don't want them leaving my home unsure how to get their own home clean.

Spend Time Together
I have noticed that the more quantity time I spend with Brayden in a row, the more he talks to me about things that are of importance to him--things of his heart. We have three bathrooms. When I have Brayden help me clean bathrooms, it isn't until the third bathroom that our conversation turns to something of more substance. I just have to spend that time with him and wait for him to be ready to talk about it. 

I fully plan to wash dishes side by side with my children if I feel like they need some talking.

There is a theory in the study of communication...I can't remember the name off the top of my head. Some day I will have a post just on that alone. The theory states that people communicate more openly if they are focused on a task. It is like a triangle. You, the other person, and your task. A person is more comfortable talking about things when there is something else to focus on while you are doing it. This seems to be especially true for males. 

This is why work is so valuable. As you work, you think. As you work side by side with your child, those thoughts will come to the forefront of the conversation. 

Stay Out of Trouble
The Parenting Breakthrough quotes the old saying, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop" (page 18). That is what reminded me of this good reason for including work in your child's life. I kind of think the old saying says it all.

Learn About Value of Work
It seems to me that anything of value in life takes work. Anything that comes the easy way is hardly worth your time. A good marriage takes work. Bearing children takes work. Raising children takes work. Saving money takes work. 

When we work for something, we appreciate it more. When we work for something, we take better care of it. When we work for something, we understand how much work other people put in to doing things for us. As my children get older and are able to do different chores, I see that they take better care of the house in general. They put more effort into keeping things nice because they know what it takes to get it that way. 

I believe it is important to know that in life, you have to work for what you want. I think working around the home helps a person understand that concept better than if he did not work around the home.

Conclusion
I have to point out, because I know someone who hates Babywise will run from this post with this idea, that I am not saying we need to work all.the.time. I am saying work has its value, and that value is not only in what it actually gets done. Children learn a lot from work, and we learn a lot while working with our children. It definitely takes work to teach your children to work, but just like anything else of value, the payout will be well worth your efforts. 

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