Awhile back I came into the nursery during a church service and overheard a conversation that was very interesting to me. The two mothers were talking about how sorry they felt for the girls from "that" large family that had to help care for their younger siblings. It didn't take me long to realize that the girls they were actually talking about were "our" daughters. Obviously they didn't pick up on the fact that I was "those" girls mom. By now they had my interest, so I continued to listen. They went on to say how "those" girls were being deprived of their freedom in having to take care of children at such a "young" age. They went on to say that "those" girls probably wouldn't want to even become mothers someday because of this burden that their parents had placed on them. Now maybe at this point I should have stepped in and said my piece, but I didn't. I think I was maybe a little dumbfounded, a little shocked. Not because I don't know that people talk about us, I know that they do. But to actually hear someone talk about you while you were in the same room is kind of.....weird!
My question then and still is now...."How can people think this way?" How can you think that by getting your children to help out in the family, that you are ruining them for life? How can you think that by getting your children to work when they are young, that you are putting too much on them? How can you think that because you get your children to help out with younger siblings that they will never want to be parents?
Of course the heart training of our children is the key to teaching them to do their work well. If their heart is bitter, ungrateful, complaining....they may very well regret hard work. As parents it is our job to train them to work with a happy and a willing heart. I tell my children all the time that I am doing them no good if I allow them to do a job with a bad attitude, because when they are grown, if their attitude is bad, they are not going to be useful in any job, be it a spouse, a parent, a missionary, self-emplyed or an employee. Training their heart if KEY.
Here's what I believe. A generation of "spoiled kids" is being raised right now. Yes...I said it.... SPOILED! They are not expected to work for their meals, they are not expected to pitch in with the daily chores of the home, they are not expected to get along with their siblings, let alone take care of them. They are not expected to honor and obey and respect their parents and other authority. They carry around cell phones and talk or text constantly, they play endless video games, they spend hours watching television, they hang out at the malls...when what they really need to be doing is some good ol fashioned work :) (of course when I say 'they" I am not meaning "all")
I have heard the pity that people feel for our children. The children that work so hard and never get to play. I have news....I don't feel sorry for them. I feel that they are very blessed. Blessed to the measure that when they leave home and Lord willing become parents, they will know how to make meals, they will know how to honour their spouse, they will know how to care for children, they will know how to do laundry.....and they will know how TO WORK!
I think I have talked about this before, but I will touch on it again. My heart breaks when I hear young moms with one or two children talk about how stressed out they are and how they need a break. Can I tell you a secret? This is bold, but here it goes....I know that my daughters will NEVER say these things! Do you wonder how I can say this with such confidence? It's because this will not be new stuff to them. They have grown up learning to deal with the hard work and struggles that are involved in raising a family. This will not be news to them! And this is only part of the problems that are beginning to arise with the generation that really doesn't know what hard work is.
A few years ago I might have not been as confidant to say these things simply because I had not yet seen the fruits. But now I see it in our grown son and older daughters. They are capable of raising a family. I have seen it in our daughter-in-law who also cared for her younger siblings while growing up. Truthfully, if anyone would have any right to complain, she would. Things have not been easy for Rebecca as a new mom. Things did not go as she had planned. But I have never seen a bad attitude or seen her to be a complainer in all this. She has never demanded ME time. She has proclaimed the truth that God is in control of their life as a family and she rests in that. This doesn't just happen by chance. Her heart was trained. And this is how I want to train our children's hearts. That they know that whatever path God chooses for them, with His strength, they can remain strong.
I know that if you asked my girls if they regret being born into a large family they would respond with a resounding "NO!" I don't even have to ask them how they would respsond, I know what they would say (and you have my permission to ask them if you would like :) They would answer this way because we have always focused on the positive side of having a large family and many siblings. Do they work hard? Yes, sometimes from sun-up to sun-down. Do they have a ton of "ME" time? No, they don't. Do I feel guilty about that? NO!!!! I wish I had less me time when I was growing up because looking back on it I can see how it fed my selfish desires. LOTS OF ME TIME IS NOT GOOD!
To sum it up...if you have a family, don't shelter your children from work. Don't buy into the lie that they need "ME" time to become healthy adults. Don't listen to the people around you who feel sorry for your children if they have to help out. And most importantly seek God's Word and what He says about work and with what attitude we are required to do it in. Let them be an encouragement to you. Hang them around your home for a constant reminder. As the ol saying goes, "A little work never hurt anybody."
Oh and by the way....if you think of our children and the work involved in running a large family, please......don't feel sorry for them. Instead think of how blessed they are!
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread,
But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!