A few generations ago farm kids were raised differently than children today. There was plenty of work, few toys, and little or no processed foods. Fun was interacting with your family, caring for animals, and playing with others through games of wit or physical dexterity. There was so much to be done children had to help as soon as they were able. They became responsible and helpful long before teenage years. If parents helped them realize the rewards of their work and encouraged their ideas and input, children grew up with a good work ethic and were solid even under duress or discomfort. Not everyone turned out well in this environment. Many hankered constantly for the excitement of city life, but no one came away without learning real down-to-earth skills.
Compare this to our current generation where parents provide everything and children only receive. Parent’s work is often so specialized, children cannot help out. We bestow on children everything they need and leave them with too much free time. So, they are quickly drawn to the exciting world outside the home, hoping for flashy toys, playing all day with friends or becoming addicted to electronic games. Parents and home quickly become boring when the screens are off. Work is worse than drudgery and they mope around until they can escape to the “real fun.” This is all very destructive to core family values. Some parents try to keep them at home by facilitating all these distractions within their own walls, but it is still a waste of precious time needed to learn core skills. Children become lazy, discontented and withdrawn.
Hard times will shatter the illusions of our present “conveniences” with real want, real hunger and worse. These lessons will be much harder to learn for kids, even considering their naturally optimistic and flexible natures. The worst part is they won’t have any skills to be helpful when you need them most and they will only know how to complain and become a drag on you. Here are some basic points to help them grow into more stronger, helpful people.
First, don’t spoil your kids. It is too easy to give in when the toys, treats, movies, electronics, and trips to restaurants are so cheap (or seem like it). Of course they demand more once they realize this is “an option.” Smart parents keep these rewards for special occasions or expect the kids to earn them on their own. This teaches a good work/reward ethic. Later you can teach them what is valuable and what is cheap and short-lived. Kids are much more likely to be judicious and delay gratification when it is their own hard earned funds.