Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is Hard Work Worth It?

Middle Aged Mormon Man posted "Dig It!" about work.  I've been struggling over this with our kids lately, too.  In fact, I tracked how much time our kids spend on "stuff" during the day.  Yesterday, our 8 year old boy cleaned for 15 minutes, had 1 hour and 15 minutes of screen time, and 10 minutes of homework (then he read at bedtime, too).  Then we had dinner.  After dinner, he played a game with his dad, then when my husband tutored a neighbor boy in math, our son did some Kahn Academy.

Our son doesn't seem to be super interested in sports, so we haven't signed him up for much unless he seems really excited about it. For instance, he did baseball last summer and wants to do it again next summer.  A couple years before that, he did 1x/week, pay as you go karate.  This year, he and our 5 y.o. girl wanted to do a drama class, so they are doing that once a week, but that's it.  Oh yeah, plus there's Cub Scouts.  I wonder if I ought to have my boy in more sports?  Do we have too much free time on our hands or is free time good?  I keep hoping that when the weather gets better he'll go out and play basketball and ride his bike.

We did piano for a while, and he was a good student, and even did well, but he HATES it.  After our teacher moved away, we gave him the summer off, then I started teaching him starting at the beginning of the school year up until Christmas.  We just haven't been back.  When I realize the majority of his home time is relaxation (usually -- he did pretty well yesterday), it makes me sick, and I want him to do something more constructive with his time.  Perhaps he needs to find an instrument he likes more or he chooses the songs to play?

From the article:

I am aware that my generation had it much easier than my father's. He spent his childhood working the farm, milking cows, bailing hay, and then washing up and going to school. It was a tough life. Of course my generation had it much easier, and we had to listen to him talk about carrying 100lb bales of hay around the ranch when he was six.

The latest generation has it even easier. Part of the reason is that technology replaced some of the labor of my youth (gas mowers, weedeaters, blowers, snow blowers, have replaced push-mowers, hand trimmers, and snow shovels)  Part is because my kids and I are Suburbanites: Garden yes, farm, no. Part is because society now prohibits young people from holding difficult jobs for terrible wages. When I was a young man, several jobs I held were brutal - construction, landscaping, etc. They were good for me, and made me stronger, and put some money in my mission fund. They also gave me something to lord over my children with: "When I was your age, I spent the day swinging a pickaxe with blisters the size of quarters..." (Yeah, they hate it)

Another difficulty is that our kids just don't have much time to work anymore because societal priorities have shifted. School, hobbies, church and sports* tend to take up so much time that holding down a job would be virtually impossible.  Most everyone I knew had a job in high school. Now few of the youth I know are employed.  To make it worse, there aren't a lot of jobs out there for young people.  Sometimes I feel that we don't expect much from our youth in the area of work anymore . We figure that since they have all the other "stuff" going on they need time to relax - to "chill". So we let things slide. Chores become a Saturday-only thing - unless there is a game on Saturday, and we let them off the hook becasue they are tired, and they've had a rough week.  (Can you hear me quoting myself?) I would be afraid to tally hours the FOMLs spend laboring vs. hours spent looking at a screen.

How do your kids spend their time?  Do you force them to do music?

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