I’m scared to contemplate it but truth is I’m afraid we’re becoming a lazy nation; one that has no respect for labor or any desire to perform it. And by labor, I’m talking about the application of manually using our bodies-arms, hands and legs-in order to perform certain tasks.
It wasn’t always like that. Remember Rosie the Riveter? There was a time when Americans applauded and embraced this concept of rolling up our sleeves in order to get down and dirty to achieve a particular objective.
We also taught our children the intrinsic value that existed in manual labor; at the very least they learned to never shun it or look down their noses at it. It was a lesson taught not only in the home but in the schools as well. But somewhere along the line that’s all changed.
The problem is that, like charity, any respect for labor has to come from the home and today, parents may or may not be teaching their children these lifelong lessons.
And make no mistake, they’re instructions they need to learn; studies of perseverance, dedication and self-reliance. It’s imperative they do so because the paths that they’re currently travelling along will eventually become the roads that they collectively lead America down.
Ask yourselves, what is it that makes 85% of college graduates return home rather than sticking it out on their own? Is it purely an economic dilemma they face in making such a choice? Or, is it procrastination, fear, or a combination of both? If you ask me, it’s because they’re allowed to, carte blanche, with no restrictions.
Instead of creating a future nation of diligent and industrious “little red hens”, these permissive but loving parents inadvertently create a gaggle of indolent individuals who would rather mooch than make their own way.
We’re more than ready, willing and able to dish out some “tough love” to family members straying down a path of addiction or some other criminal enterprise but less inclined to do so with our magna cum laude charges. And ironically, they’re the ones who may need it the most.
They need it because even when things are going well, there’s never a guarantee that the prosperous times will continue. And knowing how to handle adversity is something learned through taking those two or three steps forward followed by the one back in order to stay on a path of accomplishment.
So even if you can’t get that $30,000 a year job upon graduation, take a lesser paying one just to make ends meet. Dare I say it, get two. I’m almost positive your parents probably did at some point in your life in order to pay for your college tuition, or simply just to survive. And if you can’t get a one bedroom apartment in a luxury building, get a room or a roommate. It’s all about increments.
And parents, if your child does have to return to the nest, let them know that you have expectations, i.e. that they will not be there for very long. Hopefully, they will come to you with a plan of exit before moving back in but if they don’t, you have one of your own. Make them get a job if they don’t have one already and ensure that they contribute, in some fashion, to the care and upkeep of the home. Remember, this tough love is essential to enable them to succeed on their own.
And along the way, an added benefit will emerge; a greater value for hard work and an added realization that it’s not all about having someone else “do” for you but rather that it’s important that you should be able and willing to do for yourself.
The Staple Singers had a song in 1965 on their Amen! Album, As an Eagle Stirs Its Nest. On the surface, it spoke to God’s plan with his people, keeping them busy and aware and watchful. Yet underneath it also spoke to a viewpoint of survival in a hostile world and the tools needed to be successful. Parents have to be more like that eagle stirring its nest. It’s the only way to build resolve in your children and make them self-sufficient.