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Learning the value of work

February 9th, 2008

“Hey mom, I cut myself an apple and ate the whole thing.”

My son has never been known to eat more than a slice, a thin slice, of an apple when he was at home.

Now that he is living on his own at college, he is cooking for himself, and cutting up apples for himself.

“You like apples now?” I asked curiously.

“Apples taste better when I cut them myself.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! OhMyGosh, all these years, I’ve painstakingly peeled and sliced the apple into perfect bite-size pieces! While I didn’t put it on a silver platter, I came close by making it as easy as possible for my son to get his daily allowance of fruit.

In my effort to make it easier for him, it actually drove him away.

But my years of apple slicing have not been in vain.


1. We do not value what we do not have to work for.

2. We might even develop a disdain for what comes too easily.

3. We learn more when we exert our own effort.

4. We gain a sense of personal satisfaction when we work for something.

5. We never refuse the food we prepared ourselves, even spinach.

The best thing we can do for our children is not always to make life easier for them. We might actually be doing them a disservice by doing too much for them.


1. When the children are old enough to work, don’t give them money to spend on luxury items. They can get a job.

2. If the children want an expensive toy, don’t give it to them without having them work for it, either by doing chores or by meeting behavioral goals.

3. Everyone should have a weekly chore that contributes to the family. See my article about how to assign chores.

4. Allow the children to do whatever they are capable of doing at their stage of growth. Even if it’s not a perfect job, and even if it takes them 10 times as long as you. For example, a 3-year-old can put away his own clothes into the closet, a 10-year-old can pack his own lunch, an 18-year-old can cut his own apple … 🙂

What other ideas do you have to teach our children the value of work?

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