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    Educational Philosophy, Other Thoughts

    Get A Job: Raising Hard Workers in a Lazy World

    March 18, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]T[/dropcap]he summer after I turned twelve was the first summer I was required to have employment other than my hobbies. I was told that I could either choose to volunteer, or do something that earned money. Having a productive occupation was no longer optional. When I asked why, I was told that my own mother had been required to work starting at twelve. I suppose my children can therefore blame all of this on their great-grandparents.

    Get a Job: Raising Hard Workers in a Lazy World

    When E-Age-Twelve was ten, I told him that he’d have to follow in my footsteps and get a job at twelve. My husband looked at me dubiously. What in the world is he going to dowas the foremost question on his mind. He didn’t object to hard work, but he doubted that anyone would want to hire the boy.

    I had my own doubts, of course. In California, you have to have a work permit to get a job at a “real” business. Those aren’t issued until age fifteen. Before that, things like babysitting or mowing lawns are the only real options. I wasn’t very fond of babies, so I began tutoring children in reading, which grew up to become my passion for literacy and phonics education.

    I don’t know much about raising children, this being my first time and all that. But what I think I learned in my experience as a child is that we wait too long to start working in this culture. I learned to enjoy working by working at my tutoring business. It paid well, and I grew to love what I did to the point where many of my profits were put into a library of books I selected especially for my students, to read aloud to them.

    Working also built a resume for me. When I was older, I never had trouble getting a job because I usually had much more experience than my peers. At age 18, I had already had three respectable jobs doing receptionist duties, secretarial work, and retail sales.

    I want my children to have similar benefits. I want them to learn to work, to work hard, and to enjoy the fruit of their labor. People underestimate how satisfying it is as a young person to do real work.

    When my son was eleven, I began praying for a job for him. I really had no idea where it would come from. Mowing lawns is a thing of the past — almost every family in our neighborhood employs a gardener. But God provided, as He always does, in the form of a friend who needed help with some cleaning. Our son now works an hour or two per week, and he’s saving up to buy a truck when he is sixteen.

    Watching him work and save has even had an impact on the younger children:



    He he.

    We don’t do allowances here. We never have. But I’ve hired children to do things for me before — extra jobs, above and beyond their regular chores. One day last week, we had someone dropping by, and I yelled out, “Whoever wants a dollar can go sweep the front porch for me!” The only problem with this was that I had to break up a fight over who called it first.


    But I think that working for someone else is different than working for family. Learning to interact with a boss well is a valuable skill, and often requires practice. Even when I was tutoring, I had to learn to interact with adults that I didn’t know well. I had to explain to the parents how I thought their children were doing and give directions regarding anything I sent home as extra practice.

    A lot of us walking the Charlotte Mason philosophy spend time thinking about the importance of children having hobbies — having good things to occupy their minds and their hands and their time. I think that work — real work at a real job for gasp! real money — is an oft overlooked Good Thing.

    I remember talking with a wise older friend once about children doing chores. He was encouraging me to start chores at very young ages — chores that were a hassle for me because it’d be much easier to do myself than to have “help.” But I’ll never forget what this friend said. He said, “They need to work when they want to work so that when they have to work, they will work.”

    This is what I meant by waiting too long. It’s pretty exciting to get a “real” job at 12, regardless of how small or humble. This tends to be the want-to-work stage. Let’s not miss out on it by waiting “until he’s older.” All that energy and zest is helpful in training a work ethic that will, we hope, last a lifetime.


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  • Reply Melissa March 23, 2015 at 4:18 am

    I too started a job when I was young. I loved babies and began babysitting the summer I turned 11. Now, our 11 year old also babysits and our 9 year old helps his, dad, uncle, and a friend cut wood….we need to keep warm here in WI 🙂 I really think it gives them a feeling of self worth and they love having their own money.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 23, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      I totally agree — it feels good to contribute for *real* I think. Babysitting. I keep thinking I need to help my daughters start helping in the nursery so I can find out if either of them would like babysitting. I fear they are like me at that age and have a bit of an aversion to babies. 🙁 I hope they also grow out of it like I did. 😉

  • Reply Hollie March 20, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Our 12 year old daughter raises chickens and now rabbits. It has had an amazing impact on her communication skills. She used to be shy and nervous about talking to most people but now she has confidence and communicates really well most of the time. Since we benefit from the chickens (eggs and meat sometimes) we pay her feed cost but she covers everything else herself.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 20, 2015 at 7:55 am

      Oh, that is so neat, Hollie! That makes me excited for my girls. They recently had a Basque family inquire about buying bunnies for meat. I love that you say it has improved her communication abilities! 🙂

  • Reply susan in st louis March 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Love that quote from your friend! It’s Pinterest-worthy! 😉

  • Reply Sharron March 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for this. It is tricky when you live in the country and have to drive them to and fro! Praying…duh! Never thought to really pray about that one.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Yes, the country does add a layer of complexity for sure!

  • Reply Andrea March 18, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I have mixed thoughts on this. I too had a ‘real’ job from age 12 and by the time I was 14 had two and thus it went. I had an incredible work ethic and that is what my parents valued—-but over education and so that suffered. I never valued or put effort into my schooling (even thru university) because a paying job always took precedence. I had my whole life to earn $ and I feel I squandered the years of education. I guess I need to find the balance as my kids approach earning years. They already have excellent work ethics without being paid as we farm and there’s loads of work with little or no pay(!) I do cringe when kids graduate from high school and they have never had a job. And we have plenty of horror stories of hiring high school kids who have zero work ethic. I would err on the side of overworking like I did rather than not.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 9:07 am

      I think yours is an important warning, for sure! Do you think it matters how many hours? Or was it simply that your parents communicated it as a priority? Tell us more! 🙂

      • Reply Andrea March 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        It was that my dad clearly communicated paid work as a priority and supported me working 25 hours per week during high school. It was the 80’s and the recession had hit our family hard and so us kids used our money to pay for some essentials. But where did most of that hard earned money go? Spent! On way too many clothes,entertainment, etc. little was banked away sadly. To clarify, dev. a work ethic is essential for kids and a paid job outside the home is super valuable. I think my experience is unique and in some ways I’m grateful for it. It was definitely not all negative. I just have always wondered where an effort in school would have led me?


        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm

          Thank you for explaining! There are two sides to every coin, I know, so I want to learn from what you are saying. 🙂

          The one negative for me personally was when I was allowed, albeit briefly, to work on Sundays…and therefore not attend church during that time. It was every-other-week, but I think it had a terrible impact on me spiritually, so I try to be careful and make sure we are always communicating the importance of church over other activities.

          • Andrea March 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

            Such an important point. I almost always worked Sundays and also could not go to youth group. This was a huge negative. But God is gracious…

  • Reply Kansas Mom March 18, 2015 at 8:05 am

    I think we’re going to invest in livestock for our children. Being out in the country, most jobs would require Mom or Dad to drive a child 15 minutes (or more) one way to get anywhere, but pigs or goats or turkeys could live right outside the door…(Well, maybe the pigs and goats would be a bit away from the house.)

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to make money in livestock if the child has to pay his or her own start up costs. I suppose it’s hard for anyone. We sell some of our eggs, but we don’t even save money counting the eggs we don’t buy, let alone make enough in what we sell to cover our costs.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 9:05 am

      It *is* hard to make money in livestock! But the experience in a good one, and it totally makes sense for your situation. If raw milk is allowed in your area, I would suggest it. There IS money in raw milk, if you raise it well. 🙂

      • Reply Kansas Mom March 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        Well, raw milk is “allowed.” But you can’t advertise it and I’ve been confused by some of the laws. I don’t think they are well articulated. That being said, a dairy cow is definitely on our list of possible animals. Because of my tendonitis, I could never milk a cow (or a goat) myself, which makes it a good idea for the kids.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm

          In some states, selling it labeled “for pets” is easier. It helps you avoid some of the more difficult laws. I don’t know what it would sell for there, but raw goat milk goes for over $15/gallon here. Raw cow is similar, but a little less — usually $14, I think.

  • Reply Eva March 18, 2015 at 7:42 am

    My older children all had things to do starting around age 12 or 13, babysitting, working for friends, etc. but #7 is age 14 and needs a job and some money, and I haven’t had a solution for her. Thanks for the reminder to pray for a job- should be a no-brainer, but somehow I needed to be reminded. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 18, 2015 at 7:47 am

      I have to be *constantly* reminded, so I understand. 🙂

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