Filter by: Products Articles
Filter by:

Teaching Responsibility - Working with a Purpose

By Michael Pearl


[music intro]

Michael Pearl:  Children, two, three years old, when you don't expect anything from them, then they have no purpose. They're going to be unhappy. It's a statement that life is meaningless. When you don't call upon them, when you don't need them, it's a statement that you don't matter. Now, children without responsibility become selfish rebels. I just put that together this afternoon. Children without responsibility become selfish rebels. They get selfish because nothing's asked of them, and they get rebels because, when you do want to include them in the job description, they don't want to participate. So you must patiently train the child in the art and habits of duty.

You say, "How would I do that?" Everyone who warms himself by the fire must bring a stick.

I lived in a Maya Indian village. Gabriel was with me. Deb had to stay in a more civilized portion of Central America. We went four or five hours deeper into the jungle and lived in a Maya Indian village for two months, building a hut for a missionary and killing game and getting eaten by bugs. Living with a bunch of Maya Indians who lived quite primitively. The women were topless, in large part. About the only modern thing they had in the village was a machete, and there was two shotguns in the village and some skillets and pans. Stuff like that, knives.

The thatched huts were put together with vine and sticks, and straw and bamboo. Everything else was just handmade, that they used there in the village. Quite primitive.

There were no kids who didn't work. If they could walk, they could work. You know how much grass it takes to thatch a roof? Man, it takes a couple dump truck loads. That stuff is about that deep.You have to get those palm fronds or that grass. You have to put them in big bundles like this. Everybody's got to go out and break this grass off. Cut it all and put it in these big bundles, and tie it up with other grass.

You've got to get pile after pile of those things. Then you put poles across the top. You go up and you tie those things on, starting at the bottom. You just tie a big bundle on here and you tie a big bundle beside it, and another big bundle. You tie that grass all the way across. Then you go up about a foot, and you tie another big bundle like that. When you get through it's all sticking up in the air about two or three feet long, like this. Big bushy looking thing.

Takes a couple of rains for it to lie down, look like something what you think of as a grass hut. If there's a kid there, who's three years old, and he wasn't willing to pick up grass, then what right's he got to sit in the hut and stay dry?

When it comes time for something to eat everybody has to go out into the bush where they planted the corn. Gather the corn and bring it back in, and shuck it out. Put it in the pot, and go out and get some herbs and plants. In one case I was watching they got a turtle. They took that turtle and laid it on the fire upside down, the head and feet, not cleaned or anything. Cooked it until it was all hanging out, like that.

They'd pull on the leg every once in a while. When finally the leg pulled out, it was ready. They got spoons and dipped in there. Finally the leg pulled out. It was ready, and so they got spoons and dipped in there. Each one of them had five different holes you could go through, you know. They were all dipping in there and getting that turtle soup out of there. Everybody got to eat turtle that day. That was a good day that day.

I didn't eat that day.


Michael:  I've eaten turtle, but I like mine cleaned a little bit before I eat it. In a village like that, in a basic lifestyle, if there's a fire and you come to sit and warm yourself. Bring a stick and put it on the fire. If there's a pot, bring something to put in it so we can eat. If the roof is leaky, provide some thatch. Whatever the needs are to keep the family warm and fed is the duty of everyone capable of supplying that need.

[music outro]

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Teaching Responsibility - Working with a Purpose”

  1. Good points for sure. Its easy to neglect this area with our kids when so much of what we do we think we need "professionals" for and consider the kids at risk for injury or getting in the way. I know I need to think harder at finding ways to make our boys more useful and needed outside of cleaning up after themselves... which we still haven't mastered yet.

  2. This was so good! I was talking to my hubbie about this just yesterday. Our culture has become so saturated with "helpful" technology, etc, we no longer "need" our children. If we run out of food we run to the store, if we happen to have a garden to water we have automatic sprinklers etc. We've lost something past generations had. For those of us living in areas with animal and other homeowner restrictions it is very challenging, to say the least, to find purposeful work for children, other than the normal chores. Personally, I pray for creativity for myself and our children.

    1. I am right where you are, Jo. I wish we had a few goats and some chickens so I could teach my kids how to care for animals while getting food in return. Zoning ordinances are my worst enemy right now!!

Subscribe to our newsletter & stay updated