The Lazy Lugs and the Busy Bees: A Family Who Works Together Stays Together

by Valerie Steimle

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints raise their families to be contributing members of society. The topic of work concerns many parents, as they consider how to help their children learn that work is a necessary part of life.

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To be a good person, first be a good parent.

In pondering how important work is in a family setting, this little parable comes to mind:  There once were two families who were neighbors on the same block—one called the Lazy Lugs the other called the Busy Bees.  The Lazy Lugs never caught on to the idea that work was a good thing.  The parents tried to do the least possible work around their home, and their children just wanted to watch TV all day.  No one wanted to help make dinner.  Laundry was thrown on the floor, and Dad didn’t like to put in a good day’s work. Their lawn was long and unkempt. The children never learned to help, because the parents never taught them.  Apparently, the parents never learned that lesson either. Order and happiness were not to be seen.  School work got pushed aside, and grades were very poor. By the end of the day, junk food and chaos was what was left at home.   Self-esteem was very low in their family, because there was nothing accomplished.

Now the family at the Busy Bees’ house was a different story.  The children were taught to help at home, having a chore or two to do each day.  Dad put in a good day’s work.  Mom organized the household with nutritious meals, and there was order and happiness.  Their house was orderly and the lawn well-kept. The work ethic had been taught in this home, and everyone liked to help, although it was not perfect.  Grades at school reflected this work ethic, and the Busy Bees felt good about themselves, because they had accomplished what was needed to be done to keep a home happy.

To some families, work is a four letter word, where others invest in keeping the household functioning by helping and doing their share.   People need to know that working is a good part of life.  The baby boomers may have caught on to the idea, but I don’t know how much the next generation has learned.  President David O. McKay, the ninth prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was quoted as saying, “The privilege to work is a gift, the power to work is a blessing, the love of work is success” (As quoted by F. D. Richards, “The Gospel of Work,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1969, p. 101).

It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children to work.  Not only to work but to enjoy the work they are doing.  Paul W. Robinson, in his book, “Manipulating Parents,” says “Society expects people to work for what they want and to be considerate of others.”

Work doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It should feel good to accomplish an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.  But the great waste of time at many places of business might tell us what people think about work.  It’s always better to learn at a young age the importance of work and its benefits than to wait to find out by trial and error.  Working together as a family not only teaches this, it provides time together.

For example, every year we planted a vegetable garden somewhere in the yard.  In doing this work as a family, we taught our children the rewards of taking care of a garden, which carried over to working hard at a job.  The fruits of their labors were their reward, when good things to eat became ripe.  We taught them that hard work pays off. They did their school work, maintained great jobs, and were liked by their bosses because they worked hard at a job. They were a credit to society.  There are numerous accounts of parents taking the time to work with and teach their children.  It is fulfilling for both the parents and children and has a lasting effect throughout everyone’s lives like the Busy Bees.

Strong families depend on a good work ethic, not just to get things done, but for family members to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments.  Everyone has to do his share.

It’s not an easy task to make work look like fun for young children.  Getting them to want to work requires consistent guidance from parents.  But if taught with patience, children get used to doing chores as they grow older, and they realize that working is not so bad after all.  We are taught from the Doctrine and Covenants in 121:41 to use “gentleness, and meekness and by love unfeigned to persuade and teach our children the blessings of work.

Raising children to be contributing members of society is a challenge in anyone’s book. Even more so today with all distractions and temptations. Teaching children to find joy in a job well done will add to their happiness and fulfillment.  It is one thing they will be sure to thank you when they get older.

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