On a recent Target trip, I saw some teenage boys in their soccer uniforms holding up signs asking for donations for a tournament. These kids weren’t underprivileged — they all had nice phones and were dressed well. What have we done to our kids if they think all they need to do is stand there with a sign and get donations?
What happened to doing car washes, washing windows, or selling candy bars to earn a dollar? When I was in high school, I spent every weekend doing car washes to raise money for our cheerleading competition. There weren’t any hand-outs, and I wouldn’t ever assume that it was normal to stand there and ask for money just because.
I started to think about all of the people out there who might need help from able-bodied people like these young boys. What about elderly people who can’t mow their lawns or need help washing their cars? Why were their parents OK with letting them stand out there begging for money when there are so many people out there who they could help?
I have interns at D2 who work for college credit. It’s common in our industry to receive college credit rather than money when you’re in college.
One summer, I interned for no credit at the local Fox TV station. I worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and volunteered my time on the weekends to set up the Fox Kids Club booth around Tulsa. I appreciated the opportunity because I learned so much that summer, made great relationships and was hired as the director of marketing there a few years later. I believe I got this position because the team already knew me and trusted me because I worked hard for free with a smile on my face every day.
If you’ve never worked hard for little to nothing, there’s a good chance you don’t understand the value of a dollar. I could barely pay my bills when I got my first job out of college, so I had to intensely budget. I couldn’t buy whatever I wanted, and ramen noodles were my dinner most nights. I never once thought that anyone owed me anything, not even my parents. They’d given me so much by paying for my college, and now it was my turn to make opportunities happen for myself.
The best thing to learn is that no one owes you anything, and your reality is 100% up to you. You can travel, have a nice car and live in a nice apartment once you’ve earned it for yourself.
What can we do to create a strong work ethic in our children?
I worry about my kids all the time. It’s the craziest feeling when you drop your child off at college and a thousand thoughts run through your head. Did I prepare them for being on their own? Should I have done more, said more or been more strict?
Parenting is hard, and I don’t think anyone has all the answers, but here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way:
- Give your child chores early on. Households are hard to keep up with when you have two working parents or even a single parent with a busy schedule. The more they contribute, the more they will appreciate what they have at home.
- Make your child get a job so they can buy any extra things they want. Doing this will instill a good work ethic in them because they’ll understand the value of a dollar, and what it takes to save up for something they really want.
- Teach them manners early on. There’s nothing I appreciate more than a polite kid who comes over to my house. Please and thank you go a long way in my household.
- Teach them the importance of saving money and giving back. Money isn’t about just having for yourself, but for others and saving for emergencies as well.
- Teach them to be confident in who they are. As teenagers, kids want to fit into the crowd and copy what other kids are doing, but sometimes, other kids aren’t doing the right thing. If you can teach your kids to be confident in who they are, they’ll go a long way in life.
As parents, we always question if we’re doing enough and are teaching our kids how to be good adults. I hope this article gives you some good pointers for how to make sure your kids have a strong work ethic.