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June 17, 2005

Issue 2

Raising kids. What is the most important thing we can teach our children?

I had an interesting conversation with my parents a couple of days ago which resulted in the question above. My answer I spoke without any hesitation: work ethic. Many parents, as my mom pointed out, are satisfied with their parenting "as long as their children are happy." Happiness, of course, is important, but is a "happy" child necessarily learning how to be successful in this world? Maybe, maybe not.

A good work ethic leads to happiness. A good work ethic will serve a child forever. I don't care if my children are cleaning up toys in the family room, or picking weeds in the backyard, or working on their homework, I try to stress working hard at whatever they do, finishing the job, and trying their best.

I am a firm believer in the power of working hard, and proving you are a hard worker. In my own hiring practices I always look for the hard workers, even before a person's skill set or experience. You can teach a person to do anything, but work ethic is harder to come by.

So, in conclusion, that is what I'm stressing to my kids. Work hard, and good things will happen to you. Of course, that's not all, but I think if I can instill a good work ethic in all of them they will be off to a good start.

Posted by snackeru at June 17, 2005 10:58 AM | Life


I think that the most important thing is teaching them to poop and pee in the toilet. My theory is that work ethic is something that is less teachable by parents than is commonly thought.

Posted by: Tim M at June 17, 2005 1:56 PM

Yes, I agree Tim, that perhaps work ethic is more of a hard-wired trait than something that can be taught. But that doesn't stop me from trying. Hopefully, I am teaching by example too.

Posted by: Shane at June 17, 2005 2:02 PM

I'm of the party that work-ethic is taught. Work your ass off and the kid sees that. My wife and I both share the "cleaning of the house" responsibility. The Boy does it with us. We don't even have to ask. He wants to. When asked why he wants to help we get "because it makes me feel good" and "I like it when the house is clean" and such. We didn't teach him that. He just picked it up by observing.

My old man worked basically 24/7. He did so to give my sister and I a good life. So when we needed a bit extra cash during our remodel, did I go from door-to-door with my hand out? Nope, I picked up a part-time job. Learned that from my old man.

Kids watch and learn from their respected elders.

Posted by: Brian Maas at June 17, 2005 2:28 PM

I concur with the kids get it from their folks by observation. My wife works out a lot at home and there are times when my kids will mimic her motions and say "I'm exercising". She's very proud of teaching them that.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 17, 2005 3:08 PM

CC: Same here! The little woman and I do situps and such each morning and The Boy then does his "exercises" which are hilarious. These are not exercises you have seen before. For example, he'll crouch on all fours and then bounce his back feet up and down while resting on his hands. These days, there are also a lot of Spiderman related exercises which are very intricate routines involving make believe spider webs. It's better than TV.

Posted by: Brian Maas at June 17, 2005 3:14 PM

My son is proud of his muscles and likes to flex them. He'll then tell me how much stronger he is then me. I play along, then get all Hulk Hogan on him.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 17, 2005 4:24 PM

Brian - the fact that your work ethic is similar to your dad's, and your kids similar to yours, is just as much evidence for a "hard-wired" (meaning genetic) basis for work ethic as it is an evidence for it being a learned behavior.

Posted by: Tim M at June 17, 2005 8:03 PM

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