May 1 is Labor Day celebrated annually and is a reminder for all working men and women that it is a day where they are appreciated by our society, and that they should in turn appreciate themselves and take a day off to relax. As adults we go through a lot at work, jobs that we may not have an affinity for, employers that undermine us, and the list goes on. Life gives us the experience needed to deal with these issues but we don’t necessarily need to raise our children on the bitterness of the work atmosphere. Instead, we can try to build within them a work ethic and appreciation for all laborers in a few simple ways.
1. Lead by example. Kids mimic their parents so we can make use of this by performing manual labor around the house or garden so that our kids can see us breaking a sweat. They will learn that no job is too tough or “beneath” us. Invite them to help as well and not be afraid of getting their hands dirty with mud, tools or otherwise.
2. When a skilled laborer must work on something in the house, show the utmost respect for them and allow your child to watch, hand over items needed, and even serve a cold glass of water. This applies also for domestic workers who clean the house and tend to children, when the kids notice their parents speaking down to the help, they will believe that it is ok to treat another worker/human this way.
3. Divide chores around the house and have your child be responsible for a few. Every member of the family should finish their tasks, whether putting away laundry, arranging toys or washing the dishes, each is the master of his/her assigned “job”.
4. Make sure your kids see that you are a working person contributing to society and show them the importance of this. If the father works outside the home and the mother stays, place importance on both as essential for the wellbeing of the family. If the mother works outside the home, also highlight this as her sacrificing time in order to provide a better life for her children as well as fulfill her goals.
5. Take a walk around your neighborhood or inside a supermarket. Point out every person working there and explain to your child that each one is essential to maintain a running environment and that no one is dispensable.
6. Show your kids that a work ethic is important. They will model this in their school as well as once they are adults. Let’s say it is raining a lot and you want to stay in, or it’s sunny and you want to go to the beach, soldier on and head to work (unless on some occasions you need a well deserved break). Your kids will understand the meaning of a good work attitude.
Maria Hage-Boutros Najem