Work We Must

ChildlabourcoalIn the comments to Russell’s missionary post, there seems to be a strong consensus potential missionaries need to learn to work hard. And I agree; missionary work demands hard work. A corollary, according to many of the comments, is that kids these days do not, in fact, learn to work hard.

That assertion I find a little more problematic. Partly, it’s because I teach Millennials professionally and, in my experience, many of them do, in fact, work hard. And partly it’s because the accusation of laziness is an evergreen one; every generation, it seems, considers the subsequent generation the laziest ever (conveniently, it seems to me, forgetting their own youthful laziness). 

Still, there is certainly value in figuring out how to teach our kids how to work hard. As we do so, though, we need to recognize that the world our kids face is different than the world we faced, and that, perhaps, the ways we learned to work aren’t the optimal ways to teach our kids to work.

A good number of commenters argue that our kids need to learn to work by doing yard work or babysitting or other, similar forms of informal market labor. But, for various reasons, I don’t think those are necessarily optimal.[fn1]

Why not? I guess, before laying out my reasons, I should provide a handful of assumptions. I’m assuming middle-class kids whose parents can meet their needs, who plan on attending college and, likely, plan on serving missions. (My criticisms of informal market labor probably work for kids who don’t meet those criteria, too, although for different reasons.)

Babysitting as Work

A mission costs $400 per month, which means a mission will cost boys $9,600 and girls $7,200. There are additional costs, including clothes and (sometimes) bikes and other things; the Deseret News estimates such additional expenses as falling somewhere between $800 and $2,000.

Then we have college. In the 2013-2014 year, the average sticker price for a private college (including room, board, and fees) was about $41,000. For in-state students attending a state school, that average prices was $18,000.[fn2]

How much does babysitting pay? In Chicago, we pay about $15 an hour. That seems roughly in line with other urban areas. I’ve heard the going rate is significantly lower in Utah. For our purposes, let’s assume our babysitter can make $10/hour. Let’s further assume that our babysitter starts babysitting when she is 14,[fn3] and manages to babysit three times a week for three hours each job, 50 weeks a year, until she is 18.[fn4] That means she’ll earn $18,000 over her four years of babysitting (which she’ll reduce by $1,800 in tithing). That’ll basically let her pay for her full mission, one year of in-state college, or just less than one semester at a private school.

This isn’t to say that babysitting is a bad thing, or that it doesn’t teach a kid to work. But it’s not really a viable way to save for college; rather, it’s a way to have money for consumption. The thing is, though, that babysitting—or, at least, babysitting nine hours a week—is probably not the best use of a teenager’s time. Because the tuition costs I mentioned are just the sticker price. If a teenager devotes the nine hours a week to studying, improving her grades, and participating in relevant extracurriculars, she could, potentially, get some sort of merit scholarship (based, for example, on grades, athletics, or music). If she got half tuition at a private school, suddenly those hours wouldn’t just be worth $18,000—they’ll be worth $82,000. That is, the return on her investment of time will be more than 4.5 times what the return on babysitting would have been.[fn5]

Again, that’s not to say that kids shouldn’t babysit. A future half-tuition scholarship doesn’t pay for dinner and a movie, or a new pair of shoes, today. Still, when we’re thinking about how to teach our kids to work, we should take into account what will provide them with a decent return, not just what we did as kids.

Farms and Gardens

Farming is hard work. Heck, gardening is hard work. I did a fair amount of gardening and lawn mowing as a kid growing up in the suburbs of San Diego.

But it’s important to note that we’re not primarily a rural Church, and the world isn’t primarily a rural world, today. My kids don’t mow lawns. They don’t pull weeds. Why not? Because we don’t have a lawn to mow, or a garden to weed. We live in an apartment in a very big city. My kids could probably count the number of people they know nearby who have grass and/or gardens on one hand.

So that’s not a viable way for me to teach my kids to work. And for more and more of the Church and the culture at large, that’s not going to be a way to learn to work.

Laundry

A bunch of people mentioned disdainfully that kids these days don’t even know how to do laundry. Is that true? I don’t know. But, as Mark B. pointed out, laundry isn’t that hard to learn.

What’s more, the laundry you learn to do may not carry over into your mission. My freshman year of college, I got good at separating my whites and colors and putting coins into the machines in the basement of Deseret Towers.

Then I got called to Brazil. In São Paulo, at least in the 90s where I was, we didn’t have washing machines and dryers. Instead, we hand-washed our clothes in outdoor sinks with built-in washboards and dried them on clotheslines.

Which is to say, my experiences washing my own clothes didn’t carry over. At. All. To. My. Mission.

So What to Do?

First, we should probably keep in mind that the teen unemployment rate is somewhere around 21 percent. That’s about 3.5 times the general unemployment rate. So telling kids to get a job is probably not a viable solution.

Second, we should keep in mind what the best type of work is for our kids looking forward. That best type of work may not be remunerated, especially if our kids are looking to college. It may be, instead, studying, practicing the viola, interning, volunteering, or interning.

In the end, just because something (babysitting, mowing the lawn, or whatever) taught me to work as a teenager doesn’t mean that it is the best choice for my kids; instead, I need to do the work as a parent to figure out how to best teach my kids to work.

[fn1] I’m not saying, of course, that kids who want to babysit or mow lawns shouldn’t. There’s certainly value in both. But using lawn mowing or babysitting as the way to teach a work ethic misses the mark, as I’ll argue.

[fn2] It’s worth noting, of course, that not everyone pays the sticker price.

[fn3] Why 14? Because in Chicago, that seems like the absolute minimum age for babysitters. YMMV.

[fn4] Note that I’m trying to make the assumptions high. Even if you’re part of the Baby-sitters Club, I suspect that babysitting 9 hours a week, 50 weeks a year is an unlikely amount of babysitting to do.

[fn5] Note that the study/practice/whatever isn’t actually worth 4.5 times as much as the babysitting: there’s always the chance that she won’t get the scholarship; to actually figure out the value, we’d have to do some sort of risk-adjusted calculation, where she has a 100% chance of earning the $18,000, but her chance of getting the scholarship is something less than 100%.

Comments

  1. Craig H. says:

    Just a great post all the way around Sam. Maybe another way to put it, for middle-class kids, is teaching them how much things, including the middle-class style of life they so love or are used to, costs. And what you might have to do to make that. And which might allow them to then make a conscious choice about whether they like and want that lifestyle, or something else? Anyway, thanks.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    But the lunch is free! (Good post.)

  3. I like that formulation , Craig. Thanks.

  4. I am one that believes that having kids do “menial” work is important for several reasons which are not really tangible. I want them to learn to persist through physically demanding boring tasks. Work no matter what kind is simply demanding and boring. When I went to college and out on a mission, I at times looked at it as a reprieve from some of the menial and physically demanding tasks I had to when home. I thought to myself, “I may be here getting doors slammed in my face, but at least I am not doing that job I hated at home. Also, when you have to do some of this work, you start saying to yourself, “I don’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life. I am going to finish a marketable degree in college instead.

    I also want my children to have respect and understanding for those who do physically demanding labor. I don’t want my children turning up their nose and blue collar workers. Also, there are times when doing physical and menial tasks is spiritually and physically refreshing. This may not make any sense to you Sam, but perhaps you just have to grow up doing these kind of tasks to understand what I am talking about.

    I agree that learning to do laundry is not hard or complicated. However, I would suggest that expecting your children to learn to do laundry (or cooking or cleaning) at a major life transition point like moving out from home to work, go to college or go on a mission is not ideal. These can be stressful time for the best of them.They are already having to learn so many other skills. This shouldn’t be one of them (I speak from experience). It can add more unnecessary stress and an inopportune time. On the other hand, knowing the basics of how to take care of yourself without mom gives the emerging adult more confidence that is sorely needed at that transition point.

  5. John Mansfield says:

    We have told our children that we will pay for their second semester of college after they pay for the first. One way of paying for the first is earning a scholarship. Likewise, we will pay for the second year of a mission after they have put together savings for the first year. So far this is working out well with the two oldest, who will be a college freshman and a high school senior in the fall. The older one spent his childhood becoming mechanically capable and has worked last summer and this as a plumber’s apprentice. We have made this deal with them so they will be literally invested in their freshman year and their missions. There is also a great amount of financial necessity in our arrangement. Unpaid internships and $20,000 semesters are for people much richer than us.

  6. Very good, Sam. It’s been weighing on my mind as well.

  7. Steve S says:

    Beautiful, Sam. I liked the part about the laundry. I too served in Brazil and hand washed my own clothes and hung them out to dry. I knew about separating whites and colors, but that didn’t help one bit in Brazil.

    We should get kids to learn hard. They used to work hard in the past, until child labor laws were passed.

  8. Angela C says:

    As a parent, I really struggle with this, too. I always had a job from age 16 until now, and there are many things you learn from a job: how to do a variety of tasks you might not otherwise do, how to take directions, how to work with others, customer service skills, and you get a glimpse for how business works in society at a basic level. My kids have yet to start their own job in the real world, although my son starts at Chipotle next week. I can’t wait to hear how this changes his perspective. He is Millenial, through and through. He wanted to work somewhere that has good corporate responsibility, that offers health benefits (even though he’s our independent), that has a “cool” factor to its products. He also would only consider a restaurant that has vegan options since he’s vegan. There are so many restrictions on possible employers that he just seems unnecessarily choosy to me. At 19, he can still play that game. When he’s 25, I might not be so willing to fund his choosiness.

  9. jennyinnc says:

    I think kids need to be prepared for life. And how we do that really depends on their individual personalities. My oldest daughter was very timid, so we encouraged her to get a job as a lifeguard. She’s now on her mission and doing a great job.I’m really impressed with how she’s gone out of her comfort zone. My younger daughter oozes self confidence. She put in a year as a lifeguard, but this summer she’s doing an unpaid internship at a well known University. We figure that might be the ticket to a Scholarship. in high school, I didn’t require many chores of them, other than doing their own laundry, taking care of their own homework and calendars, and keeping their own rooms clean. They were both burning the candle at both ends, so it didn’t make sense to me to make them mow the lawn and pull weeds on top of everything else they were doing.

  10. Lots of US wards and branches have small business owners in various phases of construction and who employ Mormon kids. These jobs aren’t part of the “informal labor market” but they often pay well enough that a kid can save enough for a mission or a cheap school like BYU. The public ivies are almost 20K for in-state kids, so even these well meaning members typically aren’t paying their Mormon HS and college employees enough for schools beyond BYU-unless the kids are working on grossly inflated government contracts where Davis-Bacon wage distortions kick in.

    Babysitting is not a viable way for a kid to earn money for almost anything significant-even with the generous tuition subsidies which tithing provides for BYU tuition, I doubt babysitting will come close to covering those expenses. I know what we pay our nanny and she can easily afford BYU, so perhaps it is the type of babysitting that is done.

    I have two kids in college on opposite coasts. One thing I noticed from the schools where they were accepted was the merit and other scholarships they were offered from private schools took the cost of the private schools to close to what our state flagship institution charged for in-state residents (Penn State). In some cases, it was as much as 30-35K in scholarship money. (Those schools were unaware my kids had no desire to go to PSU b/c so many of their HS friends go to PSU they though it would be like more HS.)

  11. rk, my point is essentially, there’s no moral superiority to menial work than there is to non-menial work (to use your term). Just because you grew up doing it, or I grew up doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s the optimal way to learn to work. I’m not convinced, as you seem to assume, that pulling weeds is a better way to learn to work than practicing the saxophone or producing a play.

    John, that’s why I tried to limit my discussion. That said, your oldest child’s experience seems to jive with how I’m thinking: you don’t seem to have insisted that he babysit or mow lawns to learn to work. Instead, he did what Craig recommends above: he figured out how to earn the money he needed for what he wanted to do. I assume that apprenticing to a plumber pays more than babysitting (if not per hour, at least it provides more hours of work). That work provided him with the income he needed to achieve his goals. And that, it seems to me, is a valuable way to teach work: calibrated to the goals and desires of the kid.

    Which, again, isn’t to knock babysitting. That’s a great way to earn some spending cash. And if that’s a kid’s goal, babysitting is a wonderful way to do it. But it’s not some type of Platonic “Work” that will apply equally to every aspect of a kid’s future life.

  12. Sam–” I’m not convinced, as you seem to assume, that pulling weeds is a better way to learn to work than practicing the saxophone or producing a play.”
    They are different things. Both are good, both help build a child’s character in a different way. I would recommend both types of activities. It is just pretty easy to avoid difficult and or dirty tasks. In opinion it isn’t a great idea to never demand that a kid mow a lawn. I don’t want my kids to think they are above doing “dirty work.”

    I can tell you one thing from experience, an hour of piano practicing does not teach a kid the same things as an hour of disposing of a rotting cow carcasses.

    Babysitting is a good starter job for young teens. Later on though teens should work their way up to higher-paying jobs that have more to do with the profession they hope to enter.

  13. Which, rk, is why we need to calibrate our lessons to our kids. I use my piano training on a fairly regular basis. I have never, on the other hand, had to dispose of a rotting cow carcass, nor do I ever expect to. Whatever lessons that I could learn—which would apply to my life—disposing of a cow carcass, I could learn equally well doing something that would apply to my life.

    And mowing the lawn as the end-all, be-all of work just doesn’t, well, work for me. I suspect that my kids will never mow a lawn until they’re off on their own (at the earliest). We live in an apartment in a major U.S. city without a lawn. But that they’ll never mow a lawn doesn’t mean they won’t learn to work, or that they’re above getting dirty doing work. But mowing the lawn is a very specific task, largely aimed at suburbanites in certain developed countries. (Though they may have been there, I also don’t remember a lot of lawns in, e.g., Brazil.)

  14. John Mansfield says:

    The poorly paid, spotty jobs a 13- or 15-year-old can scrounge up prepare them for the more substantial opportunities open to a prepared 16- or 17-year-old. First, a little experience doing something beats no experience doing nothing when selling yourself to an employer. Second, it makes a low-wage jobs with plenty of hours more attractive, that chance to save up thousands instead of hundreds.

    I live in suburb with lots of lawns, but my oldest children’s gains from that were modest. Most homeowners do the mowing themselves or hire a professional. Bit by bit, they did pick up a few customers, though, which are all being attended by my 15-year-old now, who has been mowing about three lawns a week for twenty-five dollars each. (He also practices cello each day for nothing; we don’t have to and shouldn’t choose exclusively one sort of activity or the other.) Half of his money goes to college and mission savings, not only because he’ll need it, but because he may as well learn now that only a fraction of what we earn is available to spend freely on ourselves. Still, the fraction that the unmuzzled ox is enjoying was motivational to our 13-year-old, who walked around looking for lawns with untended growth and found a few neighbors interested in one-time service.

  15. Amen. The previous thread on missions brought out the Momma Bear in me, as well as the historian. I imagine the original Mormon Pioneers would find my parents era – 1950’s lazy by comparison. The same could be said of the Founding Father’s Era – all of us look lazy compared to them. Yes I have millenials, and I can’t tell you how many times their dad and I say, “I had such and such a job at 14.” Problem is in the community I live in – a small suburban one, – we are still feeling the whiplash of the 2008 crash and recession. In the past year gas stations, grocery stores, even hamburger joints have closed down. Now they are boarded up, long grass growing around them. We even make jokes to ease the pain calling ourselves -“Little Detroit”. But what jobs were once available for 14 year old kids – they are being taken (and wisely should be) by unemployed adults. The world is not the same, and it is unfair to cast full blame at their feet, or even their families. In some areas it’s just dang hard to get a job.

    One final comment on babysitting. Both my girls babysat – mostly for the experience of being responsible and having fun money. We made grades their college tuition. But in the LDS world lots of people only wanted my girls to babysit on Temple Night – and many wards encourage youth to make those nights “Service Babysits” – meaning the youth doesn’t get paid. Even if the couple get stuck in a long session or go out to eat afterward – the girls entire night was gratis. Now I don’t begrudge it, but if you are using it for money earning – you can kiss those pennies good by. In our family I paid the sitter on Temple night. It seemed ludicrous to me to have a free date of sitting silently apart from my husband, maybe grabbing a bite to eat, then sending the sitter home empty handed. Whether I went a movie theater or the temple – I was still out watching a movie. My kids were still being cared for by the sitter.

  16. One advantage of menial labor-type jobs is that it teaches immediate lessons. No babysitting/lawn mowing=no money for dates teaches that hard/boring work can bring future rewards. No practicing piano=no scholarship four years from now…I don’t know how you guys can teach kids that lesson, but it’s not working at my house.

  17. Excellent post, Sam. Different approaches for different times.

    I was raised very poor in farm, dairy and orchard country and had “physical” jobs throughout my childhood and adolescence – but that isn’t my children’s lives.

    “In high school, I didn’t require many chores of them, other than doing their own laundry, taking care of their own homework and calendars, and keeping their own rooms clean. They were both burning the candle at both ends, so it didn’t make sense to me to make them mow the lawn and pull weeds on top of everything else they were doing.”

    We have regular household chores for our kids to do, but we also have incredibly busy kids who need as much sleep as we can compel them to get. Education and the attendant scholarships are the most important things to us, so they do what they can to earn spending money (with few options available) and spend the rest of their time on academics and extracurricular activities (like community theater and choir, for the two who still are home) that hopefully will broaden their college options and enhance their ability to support themselves after graduation. Those activities take their available time and our money, but we think it’s a much better investment in their future than eliminating the activities and forcing them to find part-time jobs or do “harder” chores and get paid for it.

    It paid off for the oldest four, so we have no intention of changing our approach now.

  18. stargazer says:

    The motivation for playing a musical instrument or playing football well enough to actually get a scholarship has to NOT BE the scholarship. My violinist daughter is practicing now,and the result is how she feels about the music. How the discipline has helped her grow as a person. What she has discovered about playing in ensembles with others. The lessons have definitely been an investment for the future. But no expectation of scholarships; if they happen we are grateful and she will have more choices for college. But it has to be about the love of music/football/gymnastics/art/baseball/swimming…. Otherwise they will be set up to have a false understanding of what their effort can”get” for them. We can always start with community colleges if that is what can be afforded. I don’t want my kid to resent being forced to practice and stop playing their thing the minute they leave the house. However, I also pray for a scholarship.😀

  19. reaneypark says:

    You know, I’m saving money by sending my kids on missions. Seriously, $400 a month, they eat that much alone, not to mention how much everything else costs. I really don’t understand how this is a huge financial burden, unless you’re the type of parent who just cuts your kids loose from all support when they are 18.

  20. Segullah says:

    I am not sure what to call “work.” Is it effort? Problem-solving? Persistence? Creativity? Knowledge? The lust could go on… But the point is there us no one way to teach all of these attributes.

    Also, I work in education and in the last 20 years I have seen some amazing kids. There is nothing wrong with this generation.

  21. Segullah says:

    Make that the “list” could go on. Typing on an ipad is hazardous!

  22. I completely understand where you’re coming from in this post, and could not disagree more. From a business perspective, I almost always have to evaluate the use of time or resources the way you are here. But in life, it’s an approach that will be missing something. The point of life is not to do everything most efficiency or effectively in order to accomplish the task at hand, but to get nearer to God through the righteous use of our agency. Enduring difficult work, not only builds character through the sheer struggle, but it’s meaningful in a way less and less seem to have the chance to appreciate. Growing a garden is case in point. I certainly don’t grow all my own food, but what I do grow gives me a keen appreciation for something that is lost in our modern specialized transactional economy. It’s impossible to spend time cultivating soil, preparing irrigation, planting weeding, praying over your efforts, being in awe that once again it miraculously worked, and then getting right back into the routine struggle of wedding and watering and weeding and watering ad naseum.

    I can think of few better jobs to give my children as they grow than one that is directly responsible for their nourishment. Modernity is filled with so much triviality. When your engaged in meaningful, life sustaining work, and not contrived learning environments I found myself to be more fulfilled and have seen it in others. I’ve also seen it’s positive effects on those with severe clinical depression.

  23. So, it’s better for my kids to work their butts off doing things they hate (like yard work) than to work their butts off doing things they love (like dancing and singing and acting and playing sports) that also have immediate and long-term benefits for them. Not seeing it.

    “To each their own” is my standard – and if that means yard work for some, fine; it also means no yard work for others.

  24. I don’t know about others but here is how the life of my 12-8 year olds last year. Wakeup at 6 (ok it often dragged to 6:30) eat, get ready for school, in the car by 7:15 (ok it was often 7:30). Rush to school. Do the school TV broadcast on camera or behind it. Go to school from 8-3 pm with a luxurious 45 minutes for lunch. Do soccer at a competitve club level 2 nights a week often with a 45 minute commute. Get home between 4:30-7pm. At which point the older one has legitmately 2-3 hours of homework and down to 1 hour a day for our first grader. Bed by 9 so they can get enough sleep to wake up by 6:30 again. Plus household chores plus any chance to practice piano or read or maybe have a teeny bit of friend time. We live in Asia and this schedule is considered leisurely compared to their classmates who do the whole school ting until 3. By 4 they are sitting in cram schools until 10 pm learning to speak a foreign language (english) fluently and preparing for the insanely hard national exam (mostly math). Then those kids do the same thing all day on saturday and half day on sunday. My kids aren’t lazy. Ether are their friends. They are investing in human capital that gives them at least a chance at one of the knowledge work jobs that may pay them a wage on which they can provide a middle class life style plus some semblance of financial security for their families. Jobs they will be increasingly competing for against their Korean friends that are going to school till 10 om *then* doing the homework my kids are doing. I am acutely aware of the downsides and limitatons of the Korean model of education but those kids work HARD. My kids work hard (while we still try and give them some semblance of the free play of childhood). Is this preparing them for the complete monotany, futility and emotional labor of Mormon missionary work? Probably not.

    Is there something to learn from having my kids do physical labor intensive jobs. Sure. Do I want them to learn to respect those that do those jobs even when our istitutions and markets refuse to pay living wages for those jobs (Go living wage Davis Bacon jobs IMHO)? Absolutey. Would I love for them to learn a craft skill in their teens? Absolutely. Do I consider too much videogaming a waste of time? yes but then I shudder to think how much TV I watched as a kid and that was for more passive and of worse quality then most the shows I watched.

    It is really interesting to me the schizophrenia we have as parents in the developed world. On one hand we worry about overly scheduling our kids, helicoptor parenting,etc. and then on the other we want to call their generation lazy. Sure maybe there are some lazy kids, maybe the lives our kids leads force them into too much abstraction, but I am with most the people here. Lazy? Not my kids.

  25. ” I have never, on the other hand, had to dispose of a rotting cow carcass, nor do I ever expect to. Whatever lessons that I could learn—which would apply to my life—disposing of a cow carcass, I could learn equally well doing something that would apply to my life.”

    With all due respect, the lessons learned from disposing of cow carcasses are not about cow carcasses. This is obvious to anyone who has done highly uncomfortable work. I will try to illustrate this one last time in a different way. Let suppose that you are in an emergency (pick one), crisis or an otherwise highly stressful situation. Who would you want with you to help you through it? Someone whose youth was full of extracurricular activities and academics or another whose youth was spent working as a ranch hand in the summers? Who would you want with you and why? Oh, by the way the ranch hand also managed to keep up on his academics.

  26. I feel like this article needs to be published somewhere like Forbes, it’s great advice!

  27. “…there seems to be a strong consensus potential missionaries need to learn to work hard …”

    I think we have failed to ask a fundamental question here: Is it rational to expect the average 18-year old, reared in an average LDS home, to be prepared at that age to confront the rigors of the mission field?

    The dilemmas we face in instilling a good work ethic in our children are no different than those confronted by fathers and mothers of other faiths. And it is nonsensical to expect our children, when it comes to embracing the value of work, to out-perform those kids raised in non-LDS homes.

    So, I will repeat my question: is it reasonable for us to expect the average Mormon 18-year old to have acquired the life skills required to function well in the mission field? Stated differently, by implying that Mormon youth have not learned the value of work and therefore are struggling as missionaries, are we unfairly indicting their parents? Sure, we can all do a better job teaching our kids, but whatever incremental improvements we might make will not compensate for the fact that 18 is simply too young to serve a mission.

  28. “Is it reasonable for us to expect the average Mormon 18-year old to have acquired the life skills required to function well in the mission field?”

    Yes, the average young man or woman can function well in the mission field – and actually does.

  29. With all due respect, the lessons learned from disposing of cow carcasses are not about cow carcasses.

    Which is why the broadly-applicable lessons learned from disposing of cow carcasses can be learned in other ways, too.

    I actually have a lot of faith that our 18-year-olds can rise up to the amount of work they need to do on their missions. It kind of reminds me of Kevin Roose’s Young Money, which follows a bunch of young investment bankers through their first two year of work. I’m entirely sure that none of them had worked 100-hour weeks before graduating from college. Many of them didn’t, frankly, enjoy it. But when they showed up at work, they figured out how to do it.

  30. Sam, I hope you’re right. Your faith is definitely greater than mine in that regard. I know of more than one ward mission leader who, based on their experiences with 18-year old missionaries, believes their job description should be modified to include “babysitting and mothering.” I, for one, am not particularly sanguine about our ability to accelerate the maturation of our male teenagers. But I sincerely hope I am wrong.

  31. Children learn to work hard by watching others whom they respect, most often parents, work hard AND enjoy it. This does not necessarily mean physical work which is what you seem to be talking about. Kids who learn to work hard at their studies or at their hobbies will also know how to work hard in other situations. And, please, let’s allow for those YM & YW who don’t want to go to college. They can benefit from working in areas which interest them as possible future occupations and will be more likely to work hard if it is something they want to do. Bottom line, though, if a child hears nothing but complaints about how hard a parents works and how much he/she resents other people telling them what to do, it is likely the child will also feel that way as an adult. Applying this to missions, if parents skimp on fulfilling their callings or complain about how much is asked of them at church, their young missionary is likely to do the same.

  32. I think the “work” they should learn is to take care of the things they have. No yard? Then don’t learn to mow. want a car? Learn to repair/maintain it. Wear clothes? learn to mend and clean them. Play computer all day? Learn to upgrade and repair it. Want to teach dance? Learn new skills and develop your abilities. Whatever your skills and interests, learn to develop them and get better. The only poor choise is to not work.

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