Author and child advocate Marian Wright Edelman wrote a book for her children, “The Measure of our Success,” that outlines 25 lessons for life.
In it, she states: “Don’t be afraid of hard work or of teaching your children to work. Work is dignity and caring, and the foundation for a life with meaning.”
She writes that far too many children of privilege, of the middle class, and of the poor, are growing up without a strong work ethic, and too many are growing up without work at all.
It once was a given that children would work, sometimes after school, sometimes during weekends, always during the summer.
Though the goal was to earn money, these jobs were also a way to instill a work ethic, providing meaningful use of a young person’s time.
Edelman said too many people today are obsessed with work for the sole purpose of “ensuring their ability to engage in limitless consumption.”
She adds: “An important reason much of my generation stayed out of trouble is that we had to help out at home and in the community, and did not have time — or energy — to get into trouble.”
This is not the case with many of our children today. Leisure pursuits are highly valued by young and old alike.
Recreation, sports, and entertainment have filled the space once reserved for employment. And many of the values learned in the workplace are finding no method for delivery in a society obsessed with fun and pleasure.
There is dignity in work, and it’s never too early to learn that lesson. We short-change our children if we imply that fulfillment can be gained only from activities that are fun.