Barrier #5– Now that we are educated and affluent it frees us from menial tasks.
I heard a call once to Dr. Laura Schlesinger, the radio psychologist , that I have never forgotten. A woman called in saying that her husband, also a psychologist, wasn’t participating at all in the home care or maintenance. She said her primary concern was her children were not having that role model of him helping in the yard or washing the dinner dishes. They never worked alongside their dad. I have a lot of respect for much of what Dr. Laura has to say. I think she has helped keep people accountable for their actions. I was surprised to hear her chastise this woman. Dr. Laura said because her husband had paid the price of a great education with sacrifice and hard work, of course he can pay other people to do “menial” tasks. In a New Yorker Article in 2012, Clayton Christensen talks about how “he and his wife worried that their kids would grow up without knowing how to do any practical skills because it’s cheaper to buy clothes than to learn how to make them and who has the time to can tomatoes any more?” The article goes on to say,
“Luckily, they had bought two wrecks of houses and fixed them up themselves, so there had always been Sheet rocking or plastering or painting to do with the kids, but he knew that most of his students (at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches) would consider this a waste of time. Wanting their children to spend their extracurricular hours in the most profitable way, they (his students) would pay for lessons and smart, enriching activities, and they would outsource the low-end, dumb tasks like mowing the lawn and mending clothes, and the children would grow up without knowing how to solve practical problems by themselves, or do something they didn’t enjoy or thought they weren’t going to be good at.’ Clayton Christensen finishes saying,
“These practical skills are being lost as we now pay others to do them, and then need two incomes to pay others. It has become an ironical, cyclical rat on a wheel. The currency of our lives, which is our days, have become full of too much work and busyness, because we are not willing to do these low-end tasks, like cleaning and yard work.”
Barrier #6– Allowance is promoted as the way to teach kids to manage their money.
I will never forget launching my first child with an allowance like the experts say to. “Give children money and they will learn how to manage it.” Well, I gave my oldest daughter, who was 5 at the time, her couple of dollars and the next week when she asked “Where’s my money?” I could see the years ahead when she was an adult, hands outstretched asking, “Where’s. My. Money?” When little Nikki held out her hand the second week into our allowance experiment, I knew I had to find a better way. I wanted her to earn the money, instead of me giving her the money, so she could see she had a role in the production of it. We can see globally, from Greece to California, where entitlement is getting us.
The next post will be the last one on “Barriers to Familywork”. We have been doing Familywork this week putting in a vegetable garden. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing about it, but it has been so rewarding for my husband and I to work with two of our sons on this project. We are laughing, creating, measuring, digging and bonding. I can’t wait to taste the tomatoes!