I read a feature on a celebrity who proudly said he paid his children to do their chores. He also said this gave his children the chance to save money to buy the toys and things they wanted. I’m sure this system is somewhat effective in getting things done right away, but its long term effects are chilling.
When a child is made to see that everything has a price, including tasks we ought to do anyway—like chores that ensure the rhythmical flow of our everyday lives—exactly what are we instilling in him? What kind of work ethic will he develop as an adult? It seems to me this child will learn that only tasks rewarded with money are worth his time. It’s the fastest way for him to learn to ask: What’s in it for me?
Our country has not been able to overcome this economic and moral rut because of layers of corruption made deeper by the decade–from the largest, most powerful government institution to the smallest family unit. We keep thinking corruption is outside of us; it happens there, in that office, school or church, but not in my life. If we could muster the courage to take an honest look at the way we discipline our children, would this still be true? Paying our children to do their chores is a dangerous practice. Sure, it gets the job done, but at what cost?
Raising children is the most difficult job in the world. A friend recently read a survey that said most women would rather do the dishes than baby-sit their children. I can relate. Being with the kids demands awareness, consciousness, patience, deep and living thinking, feeling, strength, courage, and calm—–all at once, all the time. And who can manage that? We all just do the best we can and still make mistakes. I find myself using the “if you do or don’t do that then this…” style of discipline when I’m at the end of my already frayed rope even if I keep reminding myself not to. It has come back to haunt me so I try to be extra vigilant. But I don’t think I’ve offered money or toys or other material rewards for good behavior. Something told me never to go there.
Corruption doesn’t just happen. It starts with an individual who does not have a moral relationship with money, power, truth and honesty. It begins with a person who thinks everything can be traded, his integrity included. How does this happen? Where does it all begin? Perhaps it’s time we all took an honest look at our homes. If we want a brighter future for our country, upright people in government, conscientious workers everywhere, we must begin with our children. To do that, we have to begin with ourselves.
Part of the task of every Filipino parent is to ask, “Am I raising my child to have a healthy attitude towards money and material wealth? Am I laying a firm foundation for her to develop a sense of service and social responsibility?” We have to examine our habits and take a closer look at the way we discipline them. How can we expect our children to do their chores if they never see us using our hands at home, or if we have our help constantly picking up after them? I make sure my children clean up their mess. I do the laundry, cook some of the time, do the dishes, and tidy up, even if I have help who do their own work as well.
I remember reading about this very subject in the book “A Guide to Child Health” by Michaela Glöckler: “If we pay our children for household tasks such as washing-up, clearing-up or shopping, we are cultivating a wrong social attitude. We are training them to think that we do work for our own material advantage and not to help others and to bring them pleasure. Furthermore, the children will use their money to buy things that they think they will not get from their parents anyway, and so come to the view that everyone has to look out for himself and that nothing can be expected from anyone else. On the other hand if children know that their own needs and wishes will be registered by their parents and that their own work is useful to others then the basis will be laid for a different social attitude: we serve others with our work and others interest themselves in our needs. Our present-day attitudes based entirely on self-serving egoism might then gradually be transformed into a more sharing social attitude. This would of course affect the whole structure of our working world.”
This would of course affect the whole structure of our working world. The responsibility is heavy. We should not pay our children to do things they ought to do. They have to learn that we are all here to work, work keeps life going, and it isn’t about money but service. We do so that others can have. Others do the same for us. It matters how we do our work, whether we do it with dedication and a strong commitment to make our lives matter and not just because we are getting paid to do the job. That is the difference between a man who uses his life to change the world and another who simply inhabits it.
Our country cannot afford another generation of liars, thieves and cheats. Charter Change isn’t going to solve our problems. Inner change will. Our children are the country’s true hope. It is up to us to show them the value of integrity, truth and service. They need to know that life is not about accumulating wealth but being able to give of ourselves for the evolution of mankind and the world.