Growing Up On Holiday
On the need for significant work
An occupational hazard of being a child today is the extreme lack of hard and meaningful physical work. Disgraceful is the fact that significant work is not only unavailable, but most parents cannot find it or will not require it. The humanistic falsehood entrenched in our nation's "child labor" laws has influenced many parents. People commonly see no problem with kids who don't have a job and are encouraged to dabble in sports until they are eighteen years old.
Mothers fret about safety or social problems. Fathers might be concerned with legal questions or control. Children sense a reason to fear the unknown. Children also like to play, sometimes past their bedtime or past their childhood.
Potential employers are even more apprehensive. It's for good reason that they maintain the "lock out" of the young, the fast food industry notwithstanding. The occasional youthful go-getter who parlays several 4-hour-per-day [limit] jobs ringing up hamburgers into a tidy income is a true hero of the nation's mandatory nursery.
Previous generations never had such an acute problem. The family farm, coal furnaces, hand pumps and a biblical work-ethic provided the endless demands and genuine toil that urge children on to maturity and tutor them to welcome responsibility. This and future generations will need to find ways to again provide this essential work challenge.
When children are able to do useful work they quickly develop a healthy pride in themselves. This social ingredient is sadly missing and fruitlessly pursued by the modern statist curriculum.
A side benefit of ending child labor laws and promoting work would be to short-circuit violence and delinquency. It would also have the effectof improving education. This is so because when children learn enterprise and to maintain a responsible position, they transfer this attitude to other parts of their schedule.
Our question must be how can a family provide work for a son or daughter? Sorting garbage, vacuuming and mowing the lawn are not enough. There are, however, other ways to "jump start" drive and performance.
Animals require a lot of care. Fish tanks, rodent and bird cages and animal pens need cleaning. Grooming and exercising adds to the effort list. Fur or feathers can provide a beginning. The recommendation is that they be more and bigger than the ordinary dog or the egregious cat.
A second avenue might be an airtight stove that will burn two full cords of wood during the snowy season. Purchasing truck loads of eight foot logs and scheduling the sawing, splitting, stacking and carrying of the fuel supply will help the program considerably.
Vegetable and flower gardens are an old standard. They must be large and must be carefully maintained. Each individual should be allotted a specific area of ground if possible. Free enterprise reasoning is important to first and second graders too! The curse of the common store house remains in effect even with little ones.
A family business might be more realistic for some. Whether this involves the child in manufacture, record keeping, sales or other aspects of the operation, a sense of loyalty and accomplishment, as well as extra money can be gleaned from the endeavor. One example of a suitable business is to deliver a newspaper route or a weekly trade paper. This can bring in as much as $500 or $600 per month. Doing several routes can provide a surprisingly good side income.
Another trade with a fast-growing clientele is lawn care. Many people are unable to find faithful mowers who want to work hard every week. At the same time most households, with both parents earning the living, do not have time to keep yards properly trimmed. Visiting foreign students of high school vintage often tell of real work experiences. Even in the former Soviet Union there is concrete opportunity for the young. Quite by necessity, the "worker's paradise" did provide what the "free market"has presently ruled out.
Side Effects of Idleness
Not being allowed to work produces a special kind of cynicism in a person. The implicit suggestion that the individual or the class is inferior cannot be missed. Thus, many young people infer that they are not important, that they are free to commit mutiny.
Families should carefully plan and initiate work. Sports are not a substitute for responsible enterprise. Sports are play, and playing too much and too long is one of our present cultural disorders. Parents must find ventures that are well adapted to their children's abilities and needs. "Six days shalt thou labor" is a covenantal sanction for success and godly dominion.
Blue water sailors used to say about the navy that "every day was a holiday and every meal a picnic," a buoyant jest to illustrate the opposite case. Today, while parents often are running faster than ever, with schedules so full that they rarely have time for themselves, their children's lives tend to be mostly play-oriented. They are growing up on holiday.
Instead of this false world they need real and challenging work opportunities from which they will gain a sound and healthy self-image and will begin to learn about life and responsibility.
Rev. Dale K. Dykema