It has been said that today’s youth lack a sense of personal responsibility. Many continue to live with parents after high school graduation. Others return home to live after college or following a failed marriage. While the economy has limited job opportunities somewhat since the technological market correction of 2000, other jobs that remain available go unfilled by young people who are neither needy nor motivated enough to work.
So what can parents do to address the problem of motivating their children to support themselves? Start when your children are young to instill in them a strong work ethic. Here are a few ideas.
- Teach toddlers to pick up after themselves. Have them put away toys, pick up their clothes from the floor, shut dresser drawers, and take dishes to the kitchen sink. Learning even small tasks like these help kids to realize they have a duty to care for themselves and a share in maintaining the home that is shared with other family members.
- School-age kids should understand that they are expected to maintain passing grades or higher if they are capable of it. Parents may choose to reward excellent grades by offering special privileges or gifts in the form of cash, outings, celebrations, or verbal affirmations. Failing grades may reap the opposite effect, such as loss of privileges or restricted outings, etc. While young, children should learn that their behavior, good or bad, will earn different kinds of adult responses.
- Give your children a share of household duties each week. Start when they are young with a few simple tasks, and gradually increase the amount and type of work they do. A third-grader may be able to make her bed, keep her room neat, dust the living room, and help with supper dishes. A sixth grader can help with laundry, cook an occasional meal, and supervise younger children. A teenager should be able to manage yard duties and assist in the house at almost any task that requires assistance. By the time he graduates high school, your teen should understand how to run a basic home and lawn.
- If you give your kids allowance, insist that they learn to budget it. Perhaps ten percent can go to a savings account and another ten percent toward helping the disadvantaged. That leaves eighty percent for whatever they wish to buy. Don’t give in and provide additional funds before the end of the month when they overspend or misspend. Let them learn the consequences of their budgetary decisions.
- When kids get a part-time job, they will begin to see a clearer relationship between earnings and living expenses. Help them understand how to pay bills, how to control household expenses, and how to save for long-term purchases, like a car or college. A summer job on a farm helping with the crops or in a factory assembly line may help to show the value of a college education unless they enjoy working with their hands, as some folks do. Discuss your job with them occasionally, pointing out the relationship between earnings and savings, time, and money, as they begin to move toward maturity. When they see how hard a parent works for a paycheck, and appreciate the need to wait and earn their own income to buy things, they will develop a healthy respect for the work ethic.
Never let kids have money or things handed to them. It is far more loving and responsible for a parent to teach children how to work for the things they want. Otherwise, the child may grow up to become selfish, demanding, and irresponsible, a burden on society instead of a blessing to others.Never let kids