An Explanation & 2 Things I Made My Kids Do

First, the explanation for the irregular posting schedule.

When I first started this blog, I vowed to follow James Clear’s advice and follow a regular posting schedule. I chose twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, and managed to follow it for a couple of months. Then something called “life” interfered. My father, who has been slipping further and further into dementia for a few years now, finally slipped all the way. First he attacked my mother. My younger brother (the one who doesn’t live with my parents) and I didn’t find out about this one until my father had attacked both my sister-in-law and brother. We did find out about the second attack, because my brother had called to tell my mom that my nephew had been badly hurt in a snowmobile accident, and made her call me. We closed ranks at this point, and urged her to get my father into long term care. They called the appropriate people, and home visits were set up, but before anything could be put in place, he attacked my other brother. As my younger brother and I had urged, they called 911 after this attack, and dad was taken to the hospital.

Since being admitted, he’s gone very steadily and rapidly downhill. Though he’s on the waiting list for long term care, it’s likely he won’t make it into a home.

Without his income, my mother has had to put her house and land up for sale, and there is all the work required to clear out twenty-five or more years of minor hoarding. There’s been a fair bit of interest already, so I’m hopeful it will sell soon.

On my end, I’m getting my house ready to have my mother move in. My brother and sister-in-law (who haven’t worked in the better part of a decade) are going to have to find a place for themselves and a way to earn a living. I can’t take them in, and neither can my other brother.

So I’m both stressed and very busy, and I’ve had to cut down non-essential activities to a bare minimum. I’ll update as I feel able, and I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule when things settle down. That’s the best I can do.

Now on to the next part: Two things I made my kids do that helped them in their quest to become independent adults.

One thing I insisted on was that each of my two non-autistic kids (I don’t dare call them normal!) work for a period of time in the fast food industry, and also in a factory. This despite the fact that they are artists, musicians, and thinkers of the first order.

Working in those two areas had several positive effects, though.

1) They found out WHY continuing with their education was important, and why it was important to form a plan of action after graduation. I’ve talked about “default scenarios” in other posts–these type of low skill jobs are the default scenario for those who are willing to work but have no education.

2) They might have LIKED working in customer service or a factory. If this had been the case, they would have realized that an expensive post-secondary education was something they could put off or forego entirely, and saved themselves the expense.

Yes, it happens. I know a few people with student loans for education they’ll never use, and who found out after the fact that they really wanted to do something with their lives that didn’t require a fancy piece of paper or years of cramming for exams–I happen to be one of them. It’s a very expensive mistake to make–better by far to examine the options that don’t require education first, than to rack up the loans and end up working for a dime above minimum wage.

3) Working in a low wage setting exposed them to a wide variety of people they wouldn’t otherwise have met. Factories and fast food joints are much more cosmopolitan than the professional environments they’ve chosen, so it’s really important to me (and them) that they had the experience of meeting and working with folks who are quite different from themselves.

4) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they learn to WORK. As much as I want my kids to do better than minimum wage slave jobs, I want then to know that it’s important to put their best into everything they do. You can find your Dilberts and Dagwood Bumsteads in just about any white collar or professional job you can name, but those types of slackers don’t last more than a week or two in a high pressure environment. The end result has been that no matter what my kids do or who they work with, they’re praised for their work ethic and their willingness to do what’s needed.

In short, they learned the one lesson in life that I’ve found to be true no matter what job title I hold: Cleaning is in everyone’s job description.

I’ve read a few books on management, and more than one writer has expressed the opinion that fast food experience on a resume is a “must have,” especially for a young person starting out. Far from being looked down upon, fast food jobs are seen as a place where young people pick up necessary attitudes that no longer seem to be taught at home or school.


About Ruth Cooke

Ruth Cooke B.A, M.Div., MPS is a writer, public speaker, and itinerant preacher whose areas of expertise and interest include poverty issues and solutions, parenting exceptional children, sexual orientation, and the place of religious institutions in society. If you would like Ruth to come preach, speak or lead a class or group, please contact her via email.
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One Response to An Explanation & 2 Things I Made My Kids Do

  1. Pingback: Random Things › An Explanation & <b>2 Things</b> I Made My Kids Do | Stepping Out of <b>…</b>

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