Are Children Ever Too Young to Work?

I took the youngest five children (Fletcher, Greyden, Hewitt, Indigo, and Jade) food shopping with me the other day.   I pushed a cart, Greyden pushed a cart, Hewitt pushed the “car” cart holding the girls, and Fletcher walked on his crutches.  I sent Greyden and Fletcher off to fill their cart with cereal, oatmeal, and other staples while the rest of us got all the fruits and veggies. 

Bagging Soap

When we convened at the checkout aisle, the children started unloading the carts.  Once the first one was filled with bagged groceries, I sent the oldest three out to start transferring it all to the Hulk, where Jim was waiting.  Meanwhile, Jade and Indigo kept unloading the carts.  The checkout guy (older teenager) looked at the girls and said to me, “They’re too young to be working.”  

I looked at him and replied with a smile, “They’re more capable than you would think.”

But it got me thinking.  

Is that really how most Americans think?  Are we really that unusual?

We teach our children to work hard and don’t use work as a punishment.  To us work is not something that magically starts when you hit a certain age.  It’s not something that is just for adults.  It is something that all children need to be taught.  If children don’t learn to work and work hard, they can easily become teenagers (and adults) who are always trying to avoid work and expecting other people to do the work for them.  

Oprah Winfrey once said, “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

We’re teaching the children to believe that they can do anything and that hard work will help them achieve their dreams and goals.   They realize that very few people are handed success and lots of money, and those who are (such as lottery winners) often lose everything that they were given.  There are very few shortcuts to success.  

I have a Thomas Jefferson quote on the wall in my office.  It says, “I am a great believer in luck.  And I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”  We actively teach this mentality to our children.  After all, the tagline for Goat Milk Stuff is  “Work hard. Get dirty. Use good soap.”  That’s our life.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on hard work?  Something to be embraced or avoided?

PJ

 

 

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dear PJ – I most certainly applaud the work philosophy that you and Jim instill in your children.  I believe hard work is very good for anyone and offers the opportunity to be successful and proud of what can accomplish.  I began working at a young age and have never regretted it because I can look around and know that I have earned the things that I have such as my own dream of owning my own home.  Keep up the great work with your family – you are very much on the ‘right track’.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Good for you, Deb!  It’s so important to have a dream and work hard toward it.  I think that brings so much more long lasting joy than pure recreation.

      PJ

  • I think that in our modern age parents have come to regard schoolwork and scheduled activities as children’s “work.” Unfortunately that means they may go off to college without knowing how to scrub a toilet or turn on a stove, let alone perform real physical labor. We live in the country now instead of the suburbs and one reason for that is because we wanted our children to have a more balanced life with lots of time outdoors. Now if I could just get them to do their chores…

  • I think that in our modern age parents have come to regard schoolwork and scheduled activities as children’s “work.” Unfortunately that means they may go off to college without knowing how to scrub a toilet or turn on a stove, let alone perform real physical labor. We live in the country now instead of the suburbs and one reason for that is because we wanted our children to have a more balanced life with lots of time outdoors. Now if I could just get them to do their chores…

    • goatmilkstuff

      Heather – I agree with you completely.  We moved to the country for similar reasons.  We have a saying around here, “you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  The children know they need to do their animal chores and feed them first before they could eat.  It’s a great incentive!

      PJ

  • I think that in our modern age parents have come to regard schoolwork and scheduled activities as children’s “work.” Unfortunately that means they may go off to college without knowing how to scrub a toilet or turn on a stove, let alone perform real physical labor. We live in the country now instead of the suburbs and one reason for that is because we wanted our children to have a more balanced life with lots of time outdoors. Now if I could just get them to do their chores…

  • I think that in our modern age parents have come to regard schoolwork and scheduled activities as children’s “work.” Unfortunately that means they may go off to college without knowing how to scrub a toilet or turn on a stove, let alone perform real physical labor. We live in the country now instead of the suburbs and one reason for that is because we wanted our children to have a more balanced life with lots of time outdoors. Now if I could just get them to do their chores…

  • Scott

    PJ,

    Good job. This concept of teaching the basic skills of life to children at a young age is very important. I have been a firefighter/paramedic for over 16 years and more than once I have had to actually teach a rookie firefighter how to mop a floor and scrub a toilet. I think the saddest thing I have ever heard a 21 year old man say to me is, “I have never cleaned a toilet before in my life!” and he was being honest. I asked him for his mom’s phone number so I could tell her what I thought about her job of rearing him!

    Keep up the good work. My two boys love watching the ‘Goat Milk Stuff’ videos and have plans for their ‘own’ goats at some point. We will see. They are still learning how to properly take care of 2 dogs and 2 cats.

    Scott

    • goatmilkstuff

      I’m so glad they’re enjoying the videos!  My children still need occasional reminders about their chores as well.  But overall, they’re pretty good.

      I agree, it’s very sad.  I always tell other moms, “Yes, you can do it better and faster than your children can.  But it is your job to teach them to do it as well as you!”  The “it” can be anything from washing dishes to cleaning toilets to doing laundry.  Parents are doing their children any favors if they do everything for their children.  I’m glad to hear there are other like minded people out there! 🙂

      PJ

  • TK

    I told my husband when our children were small that if we taught them to work and could create a desire in them to serve God, they would do well in this life. You are doing a great job. Some will never understand the concept as they never understood why we chose to home school. Keep up the good work. My hat is off to you.

    • goatmilkstuff

      TK – I love that! What an awesome way to put it and I wholeheartedly agree! PJ

  • Sandy

    FIrst of all, that young man should not have said anything like that to you out of respect. I think it is a beautiful thing that you and your family are doing together. Your work aspect, and detail to quality is one of the reasons that I order your product. Also, when I get my order slip signed by the children it makes it very special. You are home schooling, and what better way to teach than to let them experience working at a business first hand ! I think you are doing a wonderful thing, and the children seem to enjoy what they do.

    God Bless You and Your Family!

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, Sandy. I have found that many people don’t hesitate to share their opinion when I am out and about with the children. Fortunately most of the time I hear positive comments. That and I’ve developed a tough skin. I love the way my children are turning out, so it makes it easy to not react to comments like that. PJ

  • mblbmd

    PJ, you know by now that I think you are an amazing mom who in her life reflects the same work ethic and expectations to her children as I do my own. I often hear that I should “let them be kids”. Well, I see grown up “kids” every day who seem to have difficulty dealing with the most trivial aspects of adult life. I will do my best preparing my children for life starting at day one. I expect a lot but give a lot in return. “Work” is fun when you are doing it in an environment full of love and support–your family. Great job!!!

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, Marybeth! We had a fun conversation at the dinner table the other night talking about how when they were babies I did everything for them including – breastfeeding and changing diapers. They all got really red in the face at that part. LOL But as they grow up they are more and more responsible for the care of themselves and the home in which they live. It sparked a lot of really good comments and questions!
      Can’t wait to see you again!!
      PJ

  • Mary Kay

    Anyone who watches the videos of your children “working” can see that not only are they hard workers who are doing age appropriate tasks, learning real life application of what they learn in school (even home school!) and clearly have fun while they do it. You and Jim do a great job!

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, Mary Kay! One of the things that I work hard at is making sure that their lives are a good balance. I always tell people that we work hard, but we also play hard. 🙂 PJ

  • Skydance

    Greetings PJ, I find the work ethic you and Jim instill in your children to be an excellent example of child rearing. I was taught at a young age (many, many years ago) how to work doing errands, babysitting and shoveling snow. That started me on a path of hard work and personal success in what I could accomplish. Learning that work ethic will carry the children far throughout life. My compliments to you both – Blessed Be.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, so much! I love watching the children as they grow up conquering new tasks and solving problems. I know that they are going to be able to do whatever they put their minds to! PJ

  • Patty Nale Davis

    I was raised where each child contributed to the household and tried to raise my children the same way. It isn’t necessarily just the work that is shared but also the sense of “I’m responsible for what I do for the family” that makes for well-rounded children and later adults.

    • goatmilkstuff

      I’ve said many times that I don’t need to worry about the “self-esteem” of my children. Not only are they each loved for who they are as individuals, but they know that they are an integral part of the family and that what they do every day matters and makes a difference! PJ

  • Julie

    You and your husband are doing a wonderful job with the beautiful blessings he gave you. Our children have always worked on the farm and helped in the house. There is nothing wrong with this. It is between you and your husband and with the Lords guidance on how to raise your children. Most of our best conversations with our children were while we worked. We found out how their day went. It gave them a great opportunity to talk about things that may have been bothering them or making a decision about. I feel honored to work with my children and to be able to teach them the things they need to know as they become adults. I think we have children starving for this kind of attention now days. It is my job to make sure my children grow up right in this world and become loving caring, functioning adults.This is one way that I see to do so. I’m not judging others who don’t raise their children this way, but this is the way we feel works for us.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Julie – your comment expresses my feelings perfectly. It is an honor to work alongside my children. And I love being able to watch them grow and master new tasks and thoughts. It’s a beautiful thing! PJ

  • EOQA

    Hard work is healthy but we have to work intelligently. There are a lot of people who work hard but have no discipline with money. If they have it they spend it and sometimes spend more than they have. You have made excellent decisions about how to raise children and teach them life lessons. I salute you.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thank you so much! I agree with your sentiment. PJ