By Linda Eyre and Shawni Eyre Pothier
There are so many things to think about as we raise kids in today’s wild paced, wireless, sometimes weird world. It is mind boggling to contemplate the difference in our lives as compared with the life of my father, Roy Jacobosn who would today be celebrating his 115th birthday were he still with us! He was a simple farmer and highway department employee who worked from dawn to dusk to support his family to barely make ends meet. My mother, born thirteen years later was also raised on a farm and insisted to her dying day that a good days work was one of life’s most important commodities!
Maybe it’s in the genes because last week our second daughter Shawni, who has five children from ages ten to one, wrote this terrific article about the importance of hard work. She says it better than I could so read on:
“I just finished reading The Good Earth a couple weeks ago and it's been on my mind so much lately I just have to write down my thoughts before they fade away. I love this book. I read it years ago and have ever since claimed it as my favorite book. But lately I couldn't even remember why (that's how good my memory is) so I talked my book club into having it for our book last month. I guess one of the reasons it affected me so much this time is because I love the correlation it gives between hard work and happiness.
To put it simply, when the main character is working hard he is so fulfilled and satisfied. Things around him work together for good. When he's idle and gets caught up in his riches and forgets how working hard on the land makes him whole, things fall apart. And it worried me that I'm raising kids in such an affluent generation where hard work isn't such the norm anymore (at least not where I live). I often smile to myself as I walk into the gym...I picture my great great grandma walking in there and wondering what in the world all these people are doing running around in place and lifting weights. People back then got such a workout from life they didn't need an “artificial” workout.
Then I think of my own generation where kids had to ride their bikes or walk to get where they needed/wanted to go, had to mow their own lawns and had to earn their own money. Now I watch parents (including me) drive their kids everywhere. So many of these kids have wallets full of money which has been given to them and who have time to waste playing video games or watching TV while cleaning ladies dust the furniture around them. I have to back up and say of course there are so many wonderful examples of hard workers still, and so many kids are so darn responsible it makes me drool because I wish my kids were more that way, but it just scares me the direction society is moving. I know times have changed, and it's scary to let kids roam most neighborhoods on their bikes and kids are so busy taking classes and other extracurricular activities that they don't have time to clean their own bathrooms for pete's sake, but that makes me sad. I'm not sure how to find the balance.
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There are things I want my kids to have...great vacations together as a family, a nice place they can call home, lots of great books to read, classes to boost their coordination, musicality, self-esteem, etc. But I also want to help them find the joy involved with working HARD to earn a new book or toy they're dying for, have them walk or ride their bikes to school (even when there's a bus available) and realize how thankful they are for a body that works so well! I want to watch them tear up when they realize they've helped someone who really needed them after they've given selfless service, feel the full heart that comes with giving up something important to them because someone else needs it worse, and letting them lose themselves in the joy and satisfaction that comes from hard work. The question is how do I give these, the most important things, to them? How do I make life harder in order to make it better?
Random thoughts...it's late and I hope I'm making sense. I guess the bottom line is that there's nothing like sitting back together after a Saturday's hard work and taking pride in how the house smells and looks, how beautifully manicured the yard is, and realizing that we've done it all ourselves...we've worked so hard and now we can really play. That kind of hard work gives a high that I want my kids (and my husband and I) to have more of. That's what The Good Earth taught me this time around.”
It is my hope that we all evaluate where we stand on the important value of work this month and do what we can to help our children feel the joy and importance of good hard work!
—Linda and Shawni