What Kids Learn When They Do Their Own Work

own workParenting: Teaching Our Kids to Work

There are many examples in the Bible that can help us parent. It’s never a bad idea to parent the way God parents us. As parents (and particularly as moms), we tend to think our kids need more help than they really do. These kids of ours have learned how to make us feel responsible to help them – or do their work for them.

I knew a mom who wrote her high school student’s term paper – to make sure he got a good grade so he would pass the course. Another mom  helped her child write an essay because he “deserved” to win an award. He won the award all right, stood up in front of the middle school students with his first prize certificate and a check for some money while his mom clapped wildly in the audience. I stood there, furious, because I knew the work belonged to the mother and not to the child. It wasn’t fair, and the sad thing is that his classmates knew about this as well. Even though it made me angry, it also made me sad. What she taught him that day was not something of which I would be proud.

There are times it is easier to do the work for a child than to help him figure it out and struggle along. It’s easier to defend our child than to reckon with facts – such as what  he did was wrong and he needs to apologize and make things right. Certainly, there’s less tension in the home when a parent ignores a stolen item and the child is allowed to keep it instead of returning it to the store with an apology.

own work

Parenting is hard work. Nobody knows this better than God.

Remember the day He was so angry with His people that He threatened to annihilate them and begin again with Moses? Moses begged Him to remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God changed His mind. 

What Moses Learned from Having to Work

God brought Moses up on the mountain to meet with Him for forty days and forty nights. As Moses got ready to go back down the mountain, God gave him two tablets of stone – written on both sides – with His laws for the people. Moses didn’t  have to do a thing to get those tablets because they were just handed to him. God did all the work, including writing the laws on those tablets.

The people were foot-loose and fancy free, worshiping a golden calf that  “appeared”  when Moses came off the mountain. He heard the noise of their revelry before he got to the bottom of the mountain. In his anger, Moses threw those two tablets that God had given him onto the ground. The tablets shattered.

The next time Moses was told to come up the mountain, he brought two tablets with him – tablets that had to be hewn out of stone.  This time, he carried tablets all the way up that mountain. I’m sure by the time he got to the top of the mountain carrying those tablets of stone, he remembered that his first trip up that mountain was a lot easier when he came empty-handed.

Something tells me that Moses learned a lesson that day. It was a way God made the punishment fit the crime. There were consequences for his temper tantrum. Do you suppose there was a reason God didn’t just hand those two tablets to Moses without making him hew them out himself? Was there a reason he had to carry those two stone tablets all the way up the mountain? I think so.

Teaching Our Kids to do Their own Work

God was still working on Moses – growing  him up so he could become a better leader. We need to be like God was with Moses. In our parenting, we need to keep working with our kids, “growing them up.” 

When you’re tempted to just do it for your kid, remember this story. In those moments it would be easier to turn the other way and ignore what’s happening, remember Moses. On those days you’re tempted to do the work for your kid, think about the consequences down the road.

Do you want a child who is truthful and honest?  Is it your goal to have your child grow up to be responsible? Are you praying your child will develop and exhibit qualities of compassion and caring? How do you plan to teach him to become those things unless he learns to put forth the effort to work? Who do you want him to grow up to become? Parents, we can’t wait until tomorrow. We have to start today.

 

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