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Made To Work

Ever watch a mother hen? When she finds a bug, she gives it a peck, and then clucks for all her little ones to come eat it. During this time of raising her brood, she almost becomes skinny (if a chicken can be skinny), because all her energy has been devoted to providing for her young.
But the time comes for her brood to grow up. And she must no longer give.
Being a mom is a balancing act of providing what they need and allowing them to do what they can.

Boys must be allowed to pay their own way.
They must work. They must pay for their phone. They must pay for their gas.
It breaks a mom’s heart, after caring for them for fourteen, sixteen, twenty years to have them pay for stuff they need. But it’s for their best. They are men. They must learn to provide for themselves and their own.

Recently one of my sons, unknown to me, ordered a part for the vacuum cleaner. When it came in the mail, another son fixed it. Now I have a vacuum cleaner that works. I felt badly that I hadn’t fixed it. But I thanked them for providing for me.

It does something for a man to provide for his own. In fact, the Bible speaks about this, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:8

The Bible also gives roles and conditions for helping a widow. “Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.” I Timothy 5:3-4
A mother’s children are to provide for her when her husband is no longer here.

That also means that the mother is to let them. Moms must learn to receive.
When God works on your son’s heart to give, but you say, “Oh, no, I couldn’t receive that…” It shuts down their desire to give. Your response tells them they shouldn’t have. And next time they don’t.
And God’s work is hindered.
Learn to receive. Learn to receive graciously.

Notice something else. Nowhere in the Bible does it ever tell others to provide for a man who will not work.

Men are made to work.
Even in a perfect world, man was given a job to care for the Garden. It wasn’t a curse from the Fall; their job came before they sinned.
Men receive their worth by the job they do.
As a mom, you show him respect by allowing him to provide.

It’s hard for teenagers to find work. In fact, our government hinders the working man, offering disability for chemical dependencies and added restrictions for teenagers.

Actually, trying to make a teenager work is TOO LATE.
The time when they were toddlers and wanted to “help you” is the time to cultivate their work ethic, even if you have to create jobs. My husband tells of his dad making them wax their washer and dryer. He’d say, “You don’t want your mother to clean clothes in a dirty washer, do you?”
I cannot boast of a waxed washing machine, or even a clean one…but my husband and I trained our boys to work when they were little.
Saturday was work day. The house was totally cleaned, then we’d head outside to do “man jobs”: fixing fence, weedwacking, cleaning the barn. We’d have projects where they learned to use tools and skills that gave confidence to try other things. They worked beside Dad who taught them how to use the tools, or do the job.
Today, Saturday work day has evolved as errand day for the boys. I still give jobs for the younger ones, especially when boredom seems to bring added fighting. But it’s not the time-intensive work day that it once was. The older boys are quick to say, “Back when I was a boy, we never got a break from working on Saturday….”
That discipline helps when they are teenagers striving for their own independence.

It’s hard for a mom to receive. But it’s necessary for a son to give. They are becoming men.
When my husband was deployed for a year, it was hard. The boys had many issues that growing brings. I was inadequate to direct them into their manhood. But my husband reassured me. They needed this. It was hard for me to see them struggle. It was hard for them to struggle. But they needed to go through it. I didn’t like it. But by their pain, they became men. They were better for it.


A word about allowances…  Every family should evaluate its worth. We have never given them. Allowances seem to give an entitlement demanding payment for something not earned.
At times when our boys showed extra incentive, motivation or good attitudes, we’d reward them with a dollar (when they thought a dollar meant something) and praised them in front of the others for their efforts. Our youngest still earns money through twenty-five cent jobs when he wants to save for something. Those are jobs above and beyond his normal requirements.

We instilled in our boys, that if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. (“We would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” II Thessalonians 3:10) If 4 o’clock chores weren’t done, they couldn’t eat dinner. They learned quickly. Food was a good motivator. They found worth, and felt part of the family.

When the boys wanted something extra, we helped pay part, but made them wait until they saved for it.
Where did they get the money? They learned early that work brought profit.
One son always has money. He raised a brood of chicks to sell on Craig’s List for Easter. He buys all the chicken food, provides all the family’s eggs, and sells his older chickens for more money than they seem worth…
He and another son buys drop calves from auctions, raises them on their milk cow and re-sells them. They find neighbors who have grass so they don’t buy feed.
Do I have to get them up at 5 AM to milk or feed their cows? I don’t even go to the barn.
My sons work hard. They can’t just sleep in and decide not to milk today…
That’s where the mom allows them to grow up and become men.
But they know the value of work. And the reward that it brings. And provide their family with a product.
The older boys developed a yard-care business. It fulfilled a need for weedwacking. (We live in an area where fire season means fines if weeds aren’t cut.) They advertised the first few years. Now they have repeat customers and word of mouth. They learned gas, oil, line, and repairs were expenses before money could be enjoyed.

They tithe of their gross, save 50% (or more as they were younger with less ‘needs’). With their savings, they’ve bought vehicles. (We helped when we could.)
The boys soon learned they didn’t want to weedwack for the rest of their lives. Somehow weedwacking dog kennels and long days in 100° F motivated them to move on to learn other skills. But they learned to work, and they were rewarded for their work.

Their skills continue to amaze me. One son worked with a contractor for a few summers. I consult him on my remodeling ideas.
Another son takes care of raising the pigs and cows for us. He keeps the mess at the barn and I don’t know what problems he has with them. He restocks the milk in the refrigerator. I know when I need it, it’ll be there.
One son is generous with his car when we travel. He volunteers his car with its cruise control.
Another son helps me with my technology problems and formatting my books.

These are skills they learned, somewhere…through work and research and doing something. These skills give them confidence to try other things. To find their talents. To know what they like and don’t like. To pursue what challenges them. To find their passion.
If you live in the city, the opportunities for jobs may not be these, but there is something your son can find to do. With weedwacking, we started by doing some yards as a service for an widow who couldn't afford their help. Word got out. This brought contacts with others who needed other things. It made a network.

As a mom, I could have stifled their worth by prohibiting their help at home. I could criticize what they offer as unworthy. It’s hard to receive, and when they are little, it’s hard not to micro-manage.
When you don’t allow your sons to provide for you, you crush their worth and hinder what God wants to teach them.

My boys aren’t extra-intelligent, or special, or gifted…they just know how to work. When they show good manners, act like they care for their customer, and do the work they are told to do, people are impressed. Why? The Bible tells the answer.

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29

You are after all, raising boys to become men to do the work God has given, aren’t you?



 
What have your children done in the city for jobs?
 

These are great comments, so very true. If they don't learn to work early, they will never be good workers and will resent having to work instead of playing. I was so glad our boys could work with Steve, made all the difference. Thanks for this article, I'll share it with Katrina.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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