Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Showing kids how work can be meaningful

I'm slogging through a Tony Woodlief essay this morning -- this one in the Wall Street Journal -- because I like Tony Woodlief -- but taking no joy in it as he drones on about capitalist, Christian and Marxist views on work.

And then I get to the end and Tony slams me with this:

One summer I installed stairs and flooring in our stifling-hot attic. My oldest son, 4 at the time, insisted on donning his little work belt to help. I situated him in a corner with his tiny hammer and watercolor paint, where he spent hours hammering and painting while I nailed floorboards. Months later, out of the blue, he took my hand and asked when we could do that again. Focused on the heat and the weight of those boards, I'd found the work miserable. But to my son it was blissful. We now had a "secret room." And he had worked with his daddy.

Perhaps too many children fail to value work because their parents fail to shepherd them into a world where work can be meaningful. So maybe I should just shut up and get to working with a smile on my own face. As is so often the case when raising children, the qualities we want them to possess must first be cultivated in ourselves.

How many times have I worked on something and heard a small voice from the doorway -- Daddy, can I help? -- and ignored it because it was easier? And yet, as Tony so kindly points out, that's not exactly a helpful example.

Did I say I like Tony Woodlief. I take it all back.



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