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Lisa made this comment on another thread:

 

"Approaching this from a different perspective;

1) does your kid get regular, hard exercise? In my experience regular, hard work-outs clear the brain fog of adolescents, and teach them diligence in a way that seat work outs don't. Dh and ds job several times a week. When ds isn't jogging he is more tired, less motivated, more grouchy.

2) does your ds contribute "real" work = real value to your home/life in tangible ways? We've had ample opportunities to show our kids the value of their work in the last couple of years (we heated with wood for ahwile- "every 12" log of ash you haul= 45 min of heat for the house"- that's real world accomplishment. Now we are re-buildling our house- our 11 just primed an entire room alone. He knows he did a real world job.

In my experience kids who feel a sense of real world accomplishment (I drywalled part of the basement!) vs. staged accomplishement (I'm on level x of angry birds) have a greater ability to see the need for hard work and what it can earn.

 

My observation is that lots of kids today have a LOT of stuff (middle class rocks) without having to do anything for it. Thier parents have leisure time while earning a decent wage. They have health care and regular vacations and cars that run. What they observe is that a middle class life-style is available to all with little effort."

 

Lisa, I hope I have not put you on the spot, but I would appreciate discussing what you talk about here. For me, it seems very relevant to the problems we are having with our oldest son and to a certain degree with our younger one as well.

 

The thought occurred to me the other day as I was raging (in my mind) about my ds's habits, that he truly has no compelling reason to work hard for anything. I am wondering if we have made life too easy here. My daughter has had times where she has felt like a contributor to the family, but I don't think the boys have had that experience. How does one go about doing that when the kids are in their teens?

 

I think I am asking how one turns a a cruise ship on a dime in the middle of a raging storm?

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This is a really interesting topic! These have been thoughts in the back of my head for a while. I do believe that hard work is good for teens. I think it teaches them responsibility and is it rewarding.

 

Right now my daughters both have jobs. My oldest dd teaches piano to 7 students. She also is a big help around the house. My younger dd babysits for a family with four little girls. She babysits while the mother homeschools the oldest daughter and cares for the infant. My dd comes home many days completely exhausted from the 3 and 4 year old little girls. It's funny because she thinks I cannot relate to having four little ones around!!! I have four children and they are all close in age.

 

I do think there is a balance between work and play for teens. If they work hard they should be able to enjoy themselves.

 

Thanks for starting this thread!:)

 

Elise in NC

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We turned the cruise ship when we realized that things weren't going well. When I was growing up, the hard excersize was taken care of by ballet (for me) and the "real" part was taken care of by sailing as a family weekends and for a few weeks in the summer. That apparently wasn't enough for my boys. The hard excersize was taken care of by gymnastics and the contributing to the family by helping the grandparents one afternoon a week, but the sailing wasn't enough reality. We added peacewalking for the younger two. This involved flying off to other countries for a few weeks or a few months every year. It also added an element of contributing to the world. The oldest managed to finish public high school and then apprenticed himself to his gymnastics coach, who is a plumber. (After a few years of that, he went to college.) I have concluded that it is very important for teenage boys to do something scarily real and grownup. They still have all the middle class stuff. They still live the easy life. But they have, at times, done things that were truly hard, real, and immediate for someone other than themselves or their family. It doesn't mean I don't have to nag them through every word of their French grammar (grrrrr) or that they don't bury their head in the sand and flunk classes, or that their stuff isn't a mess, but at least they have a pretty good sense of perspective and aren't as self-absorbed as many teenagers. Well, they are still rather self-absorbed but they know they are being self-absorbed and that this is a temporary state of affairs, if that makes sense. They are aware of how much they need and love their family, too, having been very far away from it at times. And they always apologize if they lose their temper with me and offer some sort of explanation, which makes them a joy to live with.

 

So maybe the ship can be turned by going abroad for awhile? Or by learning some real adult skills and using them to contribute to the family or community or working with other adults to earn a wage? I'm not talking about a teenage sort of job working along with other teenagers, but an adult sort of job working with other adults. If it is within the family, it probably has to be a largish one-shot job done mostly independently, not something small and constant and easily done by a 10yo, something like replacing the windows not doing the dishes every night. Or by sending them to help a grandparent for awhile?

 

This is harder to accomplish for boys than for girls, I think. Generally in a suburban household where the chores are traditionally divided and the mother stays home, the girls get to see their mothers working and get to help from the time they are toddlers, help in ways that they can see are useful (baby is screaming while mother is cooking supper and when 5yo plays peekaboo, the baby stops). Boys don't get to watch what their fathers do during the day. This is where a retired-but-still-active grampa is very useful.

 

Just a few thought...

Nan

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I've been pondering her thoughts as well. Dh has been a self-employed carpenter most of our married life. When ds was 3 he was helping dad on the job, he would move siding. I remember watching him pick up a piece all by himself, with his little hiking boots on. He learned to hammer and nail at about 18 months old. He's been to work for real with dad since and he has a real sense about the amount of work it takes to provide.

 

Now that dh has taken a job (not construction) that option is gone. My dad has even considered opening a thrift type store for ds to come help work at. (lots of what if's on that one, as my parents are great but move like molasses)

 

We've talked to ds about his interests many times recently. I've talked about the amount of work it would take to break into either of these fields and be successful. Today I saw him pull out a dictionary and look up a word without being asked. That's a big step for him, I'm so not kidding. I don't know, I second guess myself on a daily basis lately.

 

There is a car sitting in the driveway (mine) that will be his at 16. We may co-use for a while, but I'm thinking of making him take some auto maintenance course before I turn over the keys. He's set to spend all of his disposable income on electronics and computer stuff, so he'll need to know auto care, I suspect. :tongue_smilie:

 

Our life has been weird and hard the last few years. Some days I wonder if I am doing ds a disservice by letting him see OUR struggles. Someday I think that will help him be a better adult.

 

He has consistent contributions to the family with chores. They don't get done if he stalls, and then he still has to do them. He helps with dinner every night. This winter he is going to be shoveling snow when needed, and shoveling the sidewalk of a neighbor who mowed our yard several times this summer. I know I need to up his involvement and he's going to have to find a way to earn all the gear he wants since he can't earn it through dh anymore.

 

Part of me wants him to bus tables at a restaurant for a while. I'm rambling (while I enjoy a fuzzy navel :tongue_smilie:). Great thoughts from Lisa, both of you.

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1. When ds was 12, he started to get into some major trouble. Dh marched him down to our tae kwando dojang and enrolled him right then and there. He did not have a choice but we did choose this sport and this instructor because we thought that it would be a good fit for ds. It turns out that it has been a very wonderful thing for ds. He is learning discipline and respect and hard work while having fun. He's made friends with other teens who share the same values (generally). He has a goal now of making black belt in a couple more years.

 

Last year, ds asked if he could bike the ten minutes to tae kwando. It gives him not only more exercise but it gives him a sense of accomplishment to get himself to his own activity without mom driving him. I still pick him and his bike up afterwards because he's too tired then to bike home but he has gone round-trip in a pinch. He's now starting to go 30 - 45 min. by bicycle to the library on occasion. This is a combination of hard exercise and real accomplishment for him. He is now talking about wanting to train for the STP (Seattle to Portland) Bicycle Classic.

 

This year he surprised us by asking if he could run in a 5 K. Since he never ever runs anywhere we were a bit skeptical but we said yes and hid our skepticism. My dh decided to join him. Dh had to slow down and walk some of the way with ds who petered out midway but ds did complete the entire 5 K. He was proud of himself and plans to do it again next year.

 

2. Ds does contribute to our household. He doesn't have a steady paying job but makes money with the occasional lawn mowing for a neighbor and some sales he's made on Ebay of refurbished computers. He fixes all of our computers and dh has just asked him to build a new computer system for him from scratch. If there are minor household repairs, I often ask ds to do them instead of bothering dh with them. (Dd9 has started to complain that she wants to do some of these too so I will make sure I throw some her way.) He does real work for our church (sound system, website etc.) that is much appreciated there too.

 

ETA: Ds has been involved in our ministry in the past to low income elderly. He gravitates to what he loves (technology) but adapts it to the situation. With the elderly he was often asked to help with phones or t.v.s that didn't work.

 

 

 

I don't know if this helps but these are some examples of how it has worked in our family.

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
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I agree that it's difficult for kids who grow up being catered to understand the concept of hard work. I know we've been guilty of that. While I didn't grow up doing a lot of chores (my kids do more than I did), I also didn't receive a lot of goodies. I had to earn any extras by working. Which I did.

 

My kids do a lot of sports/physical activities, so they are spent at the end of their day. But I do think that we make their lives a lot easier than necessary. Unless you're seeing serious behavioral issues, I'm not sure I would stop the ship on a dime. Rather I'd ramp it up gradually and boil the frog.

 

Right now my kids have an old school coach (former Russian military guy) who is able to instill a great work ethic in our children. He's not successful with all of the kids who try to 'cheat' whenever they can, e.g. not completely running a suicide, etc. We try to teach our kids that you give your all when you're out there b/c character is what you do when you think no one is watching (but usually someone is).

 

Laura

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our 11 just primed an entire room alone. He knows he did a real world job.

 

I think this is a valid point. However, I think it's important to notice that this is NOT doing the dishes.

 

Speaking as someone who had this problem *myself* as a teen -- a teen who would have really benefited from having a real role in the real world, instead of seeking that real world myself by leaving home -- I think the roles kids need are more than just assigning them "family jobs." To me, anyways, doing housework in my parents' house just felt meaningless at the time. My dh didn't have to do any housework as a kid, and I'd say we both grew up to be equally hard workers, so I'm not sure of the impact of daily housework.

 

Having to earn what we wanted probably helped some, at least helped us not fear hard work, and might help some kids more than others. I think, for me, significant service outside of the home might have been better than either helping inside the home or working for money. I did some, and maybe if I had found ways to build on that, I would have desired to sweat and even to behave :tongue_smilie:

 

I also think real adult interaction about values and faith and important things in life, being a part of the discourse of the adult/responsible world, when it happened at various small moments in my youth, were helpful to *me* much more than assigning more housework. So, I don't know, maybe if housework/yard work had been combined with being a part of the adult world a bit more -- part of the plan, the conversation, the decision-making -- maybe then the sweat would have felt more meaningful?

 

I also like the idea of a big skill like priming an entire room mentioned above. I remember when my oldest son dug out an egress window so he could have a bedroom in the basement. My, oh, my, the pain of it all -- but when he was done, it was an accomplishment. I also recall him stepping up to the plate when I asked him to help with my taxes one year. He was so unaware of where our money went until that time. Those kinds of bigger jobs seemed to impact my kids, although they didn't happen every day. Although, maybe that's why they helped. When my dh was a teen, he spent all his free time working menial labor for his dad's business and he had nothing but resentment from that, also leaving home at an early age, so those big jobs can be overdone, too, I think.

 

 

However, even if we could give our teens just the right role within our home, I wonder how we can fight the outer culture. Culture has SUCH an impact. Our whole perception of what is valuable and what is enough is so overwhelmingly set by the culture we see around us. If the culture around our children does not even expect citizens to have a single desire that isn't fulfilled, then how can we fight this culture of plenty for our kids? I know some folks pull their kids out of the culture, but the culture is there waiting when they leave the nest.

 

Just adding my own thoughts to the mix,

Julie

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All I can say is there have been many times where hubby and I were thankful that we chose to raise our boys on our farm. We chose the farm for ourselves, but the boys grew up having to do chores and pitch in to keep the family running. It's been a great benefit for both us and them. On top of that, they've also helped hubby with his job when he's needed field assistants.

 

And, up until the last couple of years, we've had the income to travel and do many fun things. Travel, IMO, really assists with a complete education (as long as one isn't just going to the same place over and over).

 

The past few years we haven't had the $$ to travel (except to a few colleges), but my guys still love getting together to play board or card games as a family. ;)

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One of the things that I have found with my Dear Lad is that he is responsive to doing tasks when asked but is not necessarily quick to volunteer, particularly when someone else (usually Mom) will do them. This is with regard to the daily/weekly chores of dishes or bathroom cleaning.

 

An interesting note though. My son's summer employers think so much of his work ethic that both asked him in August to return next year. They can count on him for outside scheduled hours such as evening programs or storm prep. (They had to batten the hatches before a hurricane went through.) My son's adopted grandparents praise his general awareness. He is quick to lend a hand if they require it. Being lackadaisical at home does not translate to being lackadaisical outside the home--but it sure is annoying!

 

Second interesting note: certain mundane tasks that I enjoy, my son also enjoys. Take shutter scraping and painting. This is an annual summer chore for us which we do in companionable silence. It is not the chore for everyone but it is one small contribution that we both like to make at the family cottage. So perhaps another idea is to find tasks that contribute which are somewhat pleasing to the personalities involved.

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I agree that my ds needs to feel he is contributing. Sometimes we find it hard to make this happen. He willingly does household chores, but that is not enough of a contribution. A couple of things that do seem to count are splitting wood and mowing the lawn. The job needs to feel "man-sized" to him and he needs to be able to accomplish it.

 

About a year ago ds was looking hard for independence. Not a bad thing, but he as getting difficult to deal with when he needed me to teach or work with him. By first getting to go away for a weekend, then finding some adult level work for him to do, he was once again able to work with me without fighting against me.

 

My ds has multiple disabilities. He does not have an independent nature. However, as he gets into the teen years, he is clearly desiring to grow up and find some strength in his own life. Every opportunity he gets, makes him more willing to remain part of the family the rest of the time.

 

As far as the exercise, ds is NOT an athlete, but I have always required at least 30 min of exercise at least three days/week. He tries to get in 5 or 6 days/week and seems to recognize he feels better for it. It was like pulling teeth to get him to try different things and find a fit though.

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Interesting thoughts.

 

I struggle with finding my own work to be useful and exercise is something I despise. Because of this, I agree with a pp that household jobs are not necessarily what I would consider useful work or "real life" experience that children/teens are likely to find meaningful. Instead I consider these jobs to be something that must be accomplished to be comfortable at home.

 

Since we moved to our farm, I've learned more about useful work. Some things must be done whether you feel like doing them or not. This is easier to teach when it doesn't have to be manufactured. The lawn can be mowed, the bathroom cleaned, the dishes washed on your schedule. Trying to put a deadline on a job like that is artificial, even if the urgency is real for you. Now, the animals must be fed, the planting done, the produce picked according to the need rather than when it's convenient.

 

I think sometimes I give a job a sense of urgency rather than finding a job that has importance for the dc. I know that some jobs just have to be done but finding a sense of pride in those jobs is really difficult.

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:bigear: I have been feeling so much of this. We just don't have truly hard work to give our kids. We live in a subdivision on less than half an acre. I hope that is going to help. Her chores are easy, though. She helps with laundry, empties the dishwasher, sweeps the sidewalk and entryway, etc.

 

My dd is not motivated to be physically active, but she and I are going to start walking a schedule I found to be ready to walk a 5K in the spring. She's doing this as part of the Congressional Award. The physical fitness goals are a big reason I wanted to do it. The award is helping get her out more. She's volunteering at the library now and working on the video production team at our church to learn more about it. She'll be taking a Cotillion class next semester, so I hope ball room dancing will be more activity, too.

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Up until recently, my dds did ballet daily. And they've always had some chores around the house. We try for a team work approach, if something needs to be done we divide up the chore so all can participate. The physical exercise and chore stuff are v. important and my kids actually have a reputation as reliable workers when things need to be done at school, at ballet, at friend's gatherings, at their volunteer opportunities.

I've never liked the idea of kids spending their time cooped up in their room away from each other and the family so, we try to keep them engaged. Lately, my dd and I have been cooking and baking together a lot. I like them to do the creative things as well as just chores.

I envy all the posters with their farms. Wish we'd had that for our kids. The physical, outdoor things that go along with farming are exactly what kids should be doing.

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I wish our culture offered more apprenticeships for teens. They seem to get to an age where they are ready to do actual work, yet we continue to require more and more seat learning from them. Admittedly, many jobs do require an intense education (and many people derive great pleasure/benefit from it), but I know teens who would benefit from a year of applied work, be it internship, volunteerism, or apprenticeship. They are transitioning to adulthood but lack a formal demarcation of that change (or acknowledgment of them growing towards adulthood). Something more than just going from a Jr High school to a High school might help them feel more responsibility.

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Here are my MANY thoughts on this issue :001_smile::

 

In many ways we have very convenient lifestyles (me included). We don’t have to cook, cleaning is much easier (dishwashers, etc), we have experts for everything (you wouldn’t believe the number of times my dh is “hiredâ€(as a psychologist) to do basic parenting with a kid). I don’t think our kids are “hungry†for really anything. They are satisfied all of the time. They don’t want enough. They are not hungry spiritually, physically, socially or emotionally. If they are bored or lonely they can turn on a movie or FB, if they are hungry physically they can go through a drive-through, could any of them even identify spiritual hunger? Many have access to money they haven’t earned (gifts from grandparents, allowances, etc), they’ve always had medical care, etc.

I think the key is to create a bit of hunger in our kids, without taking it to the point of abuse or hopelessness. My ds 17 just got back from TP’s Challenge program. (some of you will cringe at this story but for the sake of the discussion I’ll share it anyway). The kids lived on MRE’s all week. They were drilled and marched and given non-stop physical activity so they were, in fact, hungry (they were teen boys- mine’s always hungry, even when he eats all day long). The last day of the camp they had to hunt, field dress and prepare their own food. The leaders let rabbits (bred for this purpose) loose in the vicinity. The boys had to catch it, kill it, cook it; my ds LOVES animals and babies and is really tender hearted. But he was hungry, he killed the rabbit, he cooked it, he ate it. And he was satisfied by doing so- satisfied that he now knows he can do something really hard. And that was the point of the lesson. Our kids are too picky, too well fed. IF they don’t like x, they’ll wait for something else and they’ll experience no discomfort till it gets here.

Find real work for your kids. It’s easy for us, in a way, because of living on acreage and rebuilding from the house fire. We’ve done tons of “real work†just trying to get our house put back together! The kids, dh and I have been the work force since last summer. We also built some furniture this summer from Ana White’s site –my kids are proud of what they built and now they know that they can build! We also garden extensively. My ds put in grape vines. We drink grape juice all winter long from those vines. We can’t afford juice normally, so my kids realize that their labor with the vines = something they wouldn’t normally have; same with the garden. DS11 hates to dig potatoes but he LOVES eating potatoes from the garden so he does it

I’d also get dh on board. Can he work out with your boys? Not golf, or going to football games but really sweaty stuff? When teens sweat and get tired, they get nicer and more compliant and really, I think that they are able to concentrate better. There is an actual “therapy†for ADHD kids now called, “Green therapy.†It consists of getting outside where it’s “green†everyday. I really believe that it’s a good idea for everybody.

I also like some camps- Nan’s talked about the Peace Marches, which have always intrigued me, and like I said, Challenge was a great experience for ds. We’ve been really involved in TeenPact because they teach the kids that they can make a real world impact even without being old enough to vote. We’ve done a lot of campaigning together, as a family, but I always drag other kids along with us. Many are really pricey, and several of very pedantic, imho, so look around and be picky.

I also want our kids to have a real-world skill before they leave home. My oldest went through Doula training. Dd is getting her cosmetology license before (fingers crossed) going on to get an R.N. I’ve been thinking that I’d like ds17 to work on getting electronics skills (like how to wire a house) under his belt, though he can tile, drywall, etc

We give our kids NO money. They are fed well, have amazing opportunities as we can afford them, get a private education; ) and live comfortably. They contribute to their car insurance and phone. If they want something they work for it. Ds 17 paid for the camps he went to this summer (we paid airfare but it was his birthday/Xmas present). Kids pay for college. I feel no guilt. I could have been working for the past 2 decades, making a professional wage, but I have given them my time and skill instead.

Travel, as much as possible. We’ve been able (by the grace of God) to go all over the U.S. and our oldest has traveled extensively abroad. This gives the kids perspective. Not everyone lives like they do- there will always be someone richer, poorer, harder working, more slothful than them.

I am also a huge proponent of limited screen time. We haven’t had T.V. in over a decade. Our older kids do have FB but they don’t spend hours on it. They get phones when they start driving and paying for them. They use the computer for school and sometimes just to google, chat with friends etc. Dh works from home on the computer part of the time so that limits everyone else’s time. We have an x-box but it’s only out from after Thanksgiving till Easter, they have to earn it and we only have a few games. We do watch videos but we have clear standards about what we watch. In other words, make the kids work a bit for their entertainment. Play board games, read, read aloud, talk, listen to books on tape, or the radio or music, or play music.

Start with the end in mind. What kind of adults do you want to be interacting with when your kids reach adult age?

We appeal to our faith frequenlty regarding character issues with our kids. This means understanding our faith ourselves. This means being willing to really dialog/ heatedly discuss/argue if necessary (riposte) areas of character/faith.

I could probably go on….we’ve thought and talked a lot about this- just from the work dh does, from the kids we interact with, because of our own kids- it’s so hard to parent. No matter what you do, your kids will grow up and be themselves. Some of the attitudes we see in our own kids we just shake our heads at –where the heck did THAT come from? Well, us, and genetics, and the rest of the world, interacting with them and their own choices.

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Lisa made this comment on another thread:

 

"Approaching this from a different perspective;

1) does your kid get regular, hard exercise? In my experience regular, hard work-outs clear the brain fog of adolescents, and teach them diligence in a way that seat work outs don't. Dh and ds job several times a week. When ds isn't jogging he is more tired, less motivated, more grouchy.

2) does your ds contribute "real" work = real value to your home/life in tangible ways? We've had ample opportunities to show our kids the value of their work in the last couple of years (we heated with wood for ahwile- "every 12" log of ash you haul= 45 min of heat for the house"- that's real world accomplishment. Now we are re-buildling our house- our 11 just primed an entire room alone. He knows he did a real world job.

In my experience kids who feel a sense of real world accomplishment (I drywalled part of the basement!) vs. staged accomplishement (I'm on level x of angry birds) have a greater ability to see the need for hard work and what it can earn.

 

My observation is that lots of kids today have a LOT of stuff (middle class rocks) without having to do anything for it. Thier parents have leisure time while earning a decent wage. They have health care and regular vacations and cars that run. What they observe is that a middle class life-style is available to all with little effort."

 

Lisa, I hope I have not put you on the spot, but I would appreciate discussing what you talk about here. For me, it seems very relevant to the problems we are having with our oldest son and to a certain degree with our younger one as well.

 

The thought occurred to me the other day as I was raging (in my mind) about my ds's habits, that he truly has no compelling reason to work hard for anything. I am wondering if we have made life too easy here. My daughter has had times where she has felt like a contributor to the family, but I don't think the boys have had that experience. How does one go about doing that when the kids are in their teens?

 

I think I am asking how one turns a a cruise ship on a dime in the middle of a raging storm?

 

I think this is so important! I think a little 'hardship' is so character building & the lack there of has contributed to the sense of entitlement many have in our society. I will admit, however, that we don't practice this as much as we should in our family, but it is a goal for us.

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1) My kids all get real exercise. Ds16 and ds11 do Tae Kwon Do classes two nights a week, ds16 also does TKD team practice one night; Ds13 does 25 hours of gymnastics every week, and dd9 does 10 hours of gymnastics every week. All of them run with me lunchtime at least a couple times a week.

 

2) They all do household chores. I'm not sure they see the value in those other than the cooking tasks, however. Ds13 works all the required family volunteer hours for his gymnastics team (30 hours/year). We all go help out with occasional manual labor tasks associated with TKD, such as laying new rubber flooring in the new extension earlier this week. Ds16 will be doing increasing volunteer work associated with TKD as he gets older and closer to black belt.

 

One of the things that has really been helping ds16, who is also an aspie, is being pushed into doing and managing for himself all the normal teen stuff for his age: driver ed (required in our state for teens to get a license), PSAT at the high school, applying and testing for dual enrollment at the local cc. We are a very academically oriented family, but placement testing seems to make his schoolwork feel real in another way, not just a rank %tile on an admission test but a specific place within the math stream seems to have garnered a real sense of accomplishment. Picking classes at cc and looking at how they are likely to transfer has really pulled him into seeing his education as real, leading to a specific place he wants to be. Manual labor isn't the only kind of hard work. Getting him to see real value in hard academic work is a major relief for me!

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Another thought: Through the years I have met people who believe that deprivation builds character and it may in some people. But in others deprivation builds resentment. Think of all of the adults we have met with boxcars of baggage...

 

Ultimately I don't know if it matters if we are rich, poor or somewhere in the middle, whether our kids have lots of stuff or minimal possessions. What we as parents need to do is help our kids determine their place in the world. That place is not one of selfishness. Not every kid is going to be Mother Teresa, but every kid (and every adult) needs to appreciate those things they have and find a way to give back.

 

It is hard for some adolescents to realize that the sun does not revolve around them. I have known parents who have found it to be easier to cook, clean, run errands, do the stuff of daily life themselves rather than nag petulant children or teens. Maybe I am just a mean mother but I believe strongly in everyone's participation in the community, whether that is family life or the world outside our doors. I did not give my son a lot of choice in that matter.

 

Keeping my fingers crossed that he'll find his place,

Jane

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I have several thoughts about this.

 

My observation is that lots of kids today have a LOT of stuff (middle class rocks) without having to do anything for it. Thier parents have leisure time while earning a decent wage. They have health care and regular vacations and cars that run. What they observe is that a middle class life-style is available to all with little effort."

 

1. Physical labor is not the only kind of hard work. DH and I both have jobs and we are in a financially stable situation, but we work hard for it - and the kids see it. They see us going to work every day. They see us bring work home for evenings and weekends. They see us take our obligations seriously. I do believe that this does teach them something - even though we are not poor and not slaving at manual labor. We did not have our comfortable lifestyle handed to us: we worked hard on our education, went to graduate school, moved around many times to do postdoctoral work, and immigrated to another country to get the jobs we now have. "Little effort"? Nope.

 

2. DH and I grew up in families similar to ours, with working parents who had non-physical jobs, with our material needs met. We observed that our parents did any job they had to do as well as they possibly could; that they did this even if the task was boring, stupid, resented. We observed that they tried to make ethical decisions (not always easy when living in a totalitarian regime). It helped to make us into responsible people.

 

3. Although not all out wants could be met (due to the messed up nature of the political system), we had whatever was possible in that system. We received an allowance that allowed us to learn budgeting. We helped in the family. We did not work paying jobs as a teenager (and most German teens do not work jobs nowadays either; the culture is different). Still, we ended up not taking things for granted, working and saving for what we want, being motivated to work hard. So, I don't buy the theory that kids who grow up with their material needs met and some extra to spare are doomed to become slackers.

 

4. I believe it is important for kids who grow up in comfortable circumstances to see the priorities their parents set. I may be able to buy "stuff"- but "stuff" is not important to me. We bring few things into the house. We evaluate each purchase, think about whether we really need this item, whether we have space for it. We probably own a lot less "stuff" than the average person with a comparable income. So, I think the attitude to material belongings is not tied to parental income, but to the parent's attitude about material things.

 

5. I completely agree that young people need physical activity (us old folks, too, btw). We model a physically active lifestyle. DH commutes by bike. We spend our weekends hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, with our children. They learn to carry backpacks and set up camp, to handle a rope and belaying gear. This teaches them a lot of actual responsibility (if the belayer messes up, the partner can end up dead.)

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3. Although not all out wants could be met (due to the messed up nature of the political system), we had whatever was possible in that system. We received an allowance that allowed us to learn budgeting. We helped in the family. We did not work paying jobs as a teenager (and most German teens do not work jobs nowadays either; the culture is different). Still, we ended up not taking things for granted, working and saving for what we want, being motivated to work hard. So, I don't buy the theory that kids who grow up with their material needs met and some extra to spare are doomed to become slackers.

 

4. I believe it is important for kids who grow up in comfortable circumstances to see the priorities their parents set. I may be able to buy "stuff"- but "stuff" is not important to me. We bring few things into the house. We evaluate each purchase, think about whether we really need this item, whether we have space for it. We probably own a lot less "stuff" than the average person with a comparable income. So, I think the attitude to material belongings is not tied to parental income, but to the parent's attitude about material things.

:iagree:

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Another thought: Through the years I have met people who believe that deprivation builds character and it may in some people. But in others deprivation builds resentment. Think of all of the adults we have met with boxcars of baggage...

 

Totally agree with you Jane. I'm not talking about "deprivation." I'm talking about letting the kids actually want something, not being desperate or not having needs met.

 

I have several thoughts about this.

 

1. Physical labor is not the only kind of hard work.

 

QUOTE]

 

My dh tutored in San Marino- one of the wealthiest burbs in the U.S. Kids of the very wealthy working very hard to get very wealthy. They weren't slackers by any means. They were very motivated. I also think that many kids from middle class homes are gonna grow up to be very motivated people (I like to think I'm one of them). I was talking about unmovated teen boys in particular ;)

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I'm very pleased that we live where we live. Moving from the 67th floor of a Hong Kong tower block to three acres in Scotland has caused us all to live more outside and use our bodies productively. Calvin hauls a lot of wood, demolishes walls, mows lawns, rakes leaves, cuts and rakes the meadow, shovels snow.... When you add that on to school sport (three times a week) and extracurricular sport (organised run once a week) he's getting fit and seeing the value of work.

 

He's also loving the goal orientation of school. I had no idea when I was home educating him that he had such a desire for concrete goals to aim towards.

 

Laura

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Totally agree with you Jane. I'm not talking about "deprivation." I'm talking about letting the kids actually want something, not being desperate or not having needs met.

 

 

 

I suspected that we were in agreement but I wanted to make the comment in light of similar conversations that I have had in the past. Ultimately the issue boils down to parents exercising strong parenting skills and being good role models themselves.

 

We also need to consider rewards for jobs well done. For some, a pat on the back is sufficient. I was one of those wacko kids who was driven by grades. My son, on the other hand, is indifferent to grades. The point of education for him is pursuing the rabbit trails that interest him. Ultimately I think he is right. One of my son's friends has decided that academic work is not for him. He wants to work with his hands. Some parents might fret over a kid not pursuing a college degree in this economy. Others might recognize that artisans have a drive that is just as valid as those who pour over texts. Test paper grades do not reward this young man. A beautiful end product that functions well does. Is he lazy? Not in the least.

 

I return to the idea that we need to help push and sometimes prod our kids into finding their place.

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We also need to consider rewards for jobs well done. For some, a pat on the back is sufficient. I was one of those wacko kids who was driven by grades. My son, on the other hand, is indifferent to grades. The point of education for him is pursuing the rabbit trails that interest him. Ultimately I think he is right. One of my son's friends has decided that academic work is not for him. He wants to work with his hands. Some parents might fret over a kid not pursuing a college degree in this economy. Others might recognize that artisans have a drive that is just as valid as those who pour over texts. Test paper grades do not reward this young man. A beautiful end product that functions well does. Is he lazy? Not in the least.

 

I return to the idea that we need to help push and sometimes prod our kids into finding their place.

 

had this long, drawn out, fruitful conversation with ds today. the one who cares nothing about grades and thereby left several blanks on his literature test today. The one who wouldn't even guess at the multiple choice. I reminded him he missed out on at least a 25% chance of getting it right. (eyes glazing over). This turned into a long discussion about future ACT scores, scholarship money, attending a college that he might truly desire, vs the settle for college. Which turned to his distinct desire he has to never hold an office job. He currently wants to edit videos and not have a job where he only views daylight through the windows of an office building. It built to a crescendo of me reminding him this was HIS education, not mine, and at some point he needed to put in more effort than I was. I think he got the point, sort of.

 

I did also remind him that there were times for rabbit trails and today I wasn't in the mood to fall into one. :tongue_smilie: I'm sure we'll have the same conversation again in the future.

 

This same child spent over 3 hours designing a sword online this week in his spare time.

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I haven't had the opportunity to engage mine in anything as real life as Lisa. I grew up in a family business and often wish that I had those resources open to my children so that they could experience more meaningful work. That said, we expect them to do a regular round of daily work around the house to help keep things running. We expect them to be able to feed themselves and clean up after themselves. We expect them to pitch in with work we're doing outside, as volunteers, etc. In addition to regular chores that are always their responsibility, we ask them to help with lots of things that we do during the course of the day.

 

We came late to the world of video gaming devices and other hand-held devices in the home. We only acqueisced last year (or year before, it seems so long I can't quite remember, LOL). We still regularly unplug, turn off, and put away such devices if we feel that too much time is being spent with them or if there are any problems of any sort whatsoever in our days....

 

My younger son does not work out to the extent that my older son did, but he has some physical problems that prevent him from being able to do as much. He is getting interested in working out at home and we are encouraging that, because we want him to be physically active as much as possible. He does play soccer pretty much year round, although there are some gaps and he doesn't play every single day. He does participate in a PE class in which they are moving almost constantly, but that is only 12 classes per semester (1 hour each). I do think that teen boys, in general, do much better if they have regular sweat building exercise....

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had this long, drawn out, fruitful conversation with ds today. the one who cares nothing about grades and thereby left several blanks on his literature test today. The one who wouldn't even guess at the multiple choice. I reminded him he missed out on at least a 25% chance of getting it right. (eyes glazing over). This turned into a long discussion about future ACT scores, scholarship money, attending a college that he might truly desire, vs the settle for college. Which turned to his distinct desire he has to never hold an office job. He currently wants to edit videos and not have a job where he only views daylight through the windows of an office building. It built to a crescendo of me reminding him this was HIS education, not mine, and at some point he needed to put in more effort than I was. I think he got the point, sort of.

 

I did also remind him that there were times for rabbit trails and today I wasn't in the mood to fall into one. :tongue_smilie: I'm sure we'll have the same conversation again in the future.

 

Fortunately my son did well on those silly standardized tests. He thinks they are malarkey. The Boy also knew that in order to attend a private LAC that he would need to qualify for merit aid. It is easy for him to demonstrate his passions in essays and interviews. At some point, the means to the end should become abundantly clear to our students. Good for you for having "the talk".

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