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Michael Pearl: Children need to have instilled in them very young that life is about productivity. Life is about contributing and giving. Sometimes, that involves sacrifices. Quite often involves pain and the boredom of duty. In those early years, they are developing a frame of reference that will govern them when they get older. Are your children lazy and unthankful? A child does not take people and things for granted, if he has learned to pay the price in labor. I didn’t give my children allowances. They had to work for what they got. By the time they got to where they could work and make some money‑‑some working with me, some working out, say 12 or 13 years old‑‑I didn’t buy them shoes anymore, or clothes.
I see some kids drop their tennis shoes or their jacket and just leave it. And it’s there next year in the yard, other kids dropped it. Mine know that, if they dropped their jacket and left it in the yard, they would have to buy another one. I wasn’t going to buy it for them. They knew, if they tore their tennis shoes up or left them in the creek, they would have to go without shoes or buy their own tennis shoes.
I had them taking responsibility for their own possessions, their own things when they were very young. Children are not unthankful when they understand the price of things. I remember one day. They all saved up some money. They had anywhere between $15 and $25‑$35 a piece, girls and boys alike. We were going to go to that first Monday sale down in Ripley, Mississippi.
It was a big day for us, for all of them. They all took their money to go shopping. I watched them shop and I watched them make a couple of purchases that I knew they would regret later on, a six dollar purchase here and eight dollar purchase there. I knew that it was a purchase that they wouldn’t appreciate.
Then we all went home. I watched over the next few days as the new of that thing wore off and they realized they didn’t have that eight dollars anymore that they earned a quarter at a time. That it was gone. What they had was this object that, they really didn’t value equal to the eight dollars.
They learned more from blowing their money like that than they could ever have learned in any classroom, which would make them frugal, the rest of their lives. I know a man that when his kids work, he takes all their money and puts it in the bank for them later in life. They have no sense of the value of money or the worth of it. It’s meaningless to them because they never get to see but just small amounts of it.
We are talking about 15‑year‑old boys. These boys are selfish and they’re lazy regarding money. No sense of the value of it. If they work when they are one‑year‑old, there will never come a time, when they’re shocked that you asked them to work. You must see every day as a wonderful opportunity to build into that young life.
My wife has spent so much time with our daughters they can all cook better than her. They all sew. They know herbs and do herb like she taught them and have gone beyond her in some cases.
One of them, Shoshanna, is making herbal salves, manufacturing and selling it and doing quite well and also making some other herbal things. One of my other daughters, they have manufactured their own vitamins, contracted out with their specifications and are selling them.
Things like that come from having worked when they’re young and develop confidence and skills and knowing they’ve got something that other people need and becoming entrepreneurs.
Now, cause your child to want to be part of your life. Don’t make them work for you. Work with them. Do things together. Work should be a time of fellowship and training, a time when you’re teaching them. A child knows when he’s being patronized. He knows when the praise is irrelevant praise. It diminishes his self worth to just speak positive words to them.
Lead the child to actually do something that’s worthy. Lead the child to do something so he can look at himself and say, “You matter. You count.”