One of the most important points my dad, Dave Ramsey, and I discuss in our book, Smart Money Smart Kids, is the value of hard work.
In this excerpt from the book, we discuss the positive influence working has on kids and how it has affected our father/daughter relationship.
DAVE: Our culture has made many wonderful advances to ensure the safety and well-being of children. But we may have taken this too far. Many parents today are so centered on what their children want that they have lost perspective on what their children really need. Perspective—looking at life over time—demands that you teach children to work. Teaching a child to work is not child abuse. We teach them to work not for our benefit, but because it gives them both dignity in a job well done today and the tools and character to win in the future as adults.
You should view teaching your children to work in the same way you view teaching them to bathe and brush their teeth—as a necessary skill for life. An adult who has no clue how to tackle a job and finish it with vigor is as debilitated as an adult with green teeth and body odor. If your child graduates from high school and his only skill set consists of playing video games, whining, copping an attitude of entitlement, and eating junk food, you have set him up to fail.
Another huge benefit of teaching a child the wonder of work is that she will tend to lose respect for people who refuse to work. Why is this good? It is good because you want your daughter to marry Mr. Right, not Mr. Lazy. We noticed quickly that our daughters (and our son) didn’t pursue relationships with people who didn’t know how to work. This is great news, because someday you may have grandkids, and you want both of their parents to be productive so your grandkids get to eat.
RACHEL: Cleaning our rooms was a standard chore in our house—one that I hated! I am not a super-organized person in general, and this trait was definitely worse when I was younger. Week after week, I was told to clean my room, and I put it off as long as I could . . . at least until I heard footsteps coming up the stairs to examine my work. Mom and Dad didn’t expect our rooms to look like military barracks, but they did expect them to look neat and nice. And even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the process, after spending just a few minutes cleaning and seeing the results, it was rewarding. I immediately saw what my hard work had accomplished, and it felt great.
Work might be a challenge for your children, especially if they aren’t used to it, but what a blessing to give your kids. Of course, I’m talking about age-appropriate work; nevertheless, the value of work is needed and necessary. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). When your kids learn hard work from a young age, the habit will stick with them for life.
Now my dad is one of those people who never seems to have much trouble figuring out how to make money. Sure, Mom and Dad had some trouble keeping it for a little while during the bankruptcy years, but bringing home a good income was never really a problem. That’s because my parents have never been confused about where money comes from. It’s something my dad has told me pretty much every day of my life: Money comes from work.
Even when my parents went bankrupt, it wasn’t because Dad didn’t work hard enough. He worked like crazy all the way up the ladder of success and down to their financial crash. Before the bankruptcy, Dad worked to build his fortune; after the bankruptcy, he worked to keep food on the table. The motivation changed, but the work ethic never did. My dad’s the hardest working person I’ve ever seen.
He used to tell me stories about helping out with his parents’ real estate business when he was a little boy. My grandparents worked out of their home, so when the phone rang, there was a good chance that it was a client. That meant when eight-year-old Dave answered the phone, he did it like a full-time, highly trained receptionist. And my mom grew up on a farm, so she was no stranger to hard work, either. She could probably out-work all of us all day every day and still get home in time to host an amazing dinner party!