Crackin’ the Whip

I came across a news clip a few weeks ago exposing some blueberry farmers back East for using child labor. They had footage of these little kids hauling buckets of blueberries that were nearly as big as themselves-one in each hand. I mean, these kids were tough. Built like bricks and quick.
I know, I know, child labor is wrong and somebody will surely be outraged when I say this, but my first thought when I saw these families out there working together was, Where do I sign up?

My kids could totally benefit from some serious manual labor–from knowing that if they didn't work, and work hard, together, that they probably wouldn't have enough to eat tomorrow.
I realize that these children are probably not in school and that they have little hope of escaping the generational cycle of poverty they are part of and I don't think that's right, but I know that the generational cycle of entitlement and laziness that my own children are part of isn't right either. 
Maybe I should get a cow and some chickens and a big old garden and have my kids haul water up from the lake all summer to water it. Just because. It would probably cost more than buying the milk and eggs and produce from the store and they'd hate me with every exhausted breath but I bet they'd quit whining about going to school.
The problem is, they're all bigger than me and they might just roll over in bed and refuse to get up.
Maybe I could learn to use a bull whip…

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17 responses to “Crackin’ the Whip

  • Grandma-P

    You might be on to something.

  • Alicia

    I think you're totally right. I've worked to keep myself going to school. I had a job during high school because I knew that my parents couldn't afford to support me when I entered school. I had to pay for my housing, and my food, and well, everything on my own. This last semester they have been able to help me with food, and I was so grateful for it! And I appreciate what it means to work. I will do what I need to. Not sit and whine. Thank goodness my hard work has paid off and I can now not worry about trying to find a job in this economy, and work on getting residual income.

  • Emjay

    Well as one who grew up on a farm I have been "working" since I was about 7 and I don't think it has harmed me in any way. My family was not wealthy enough to hire a farmhand so we children were expected to chip in. I was the eldest so I'm pretty sure I had to do more than the others…… 🙂

  • Freedom Smith

    I realized that my children had a good work ethic when we adopted an 18 year old teenage girl from an abusive home, last May. She was mainly used to sitting in her room, which is sad, but also leads to laziness. She was in shock over having to do chores and my children looked at her in amazement the day she said, "Why do we have to take all these clean dishes out of the dishwasher? Why can't we just take out the ones we used?" That question would never have occurred to my children as we are a large family, and with my health issues, they have learned to pitch in and work. My 11 year old can cook the best grilled cheese sandwich you have ever tasted! I am thankful that they have a good work ethic!

  • Waterbaby

    That's child abuse?!??! When I read the first paragraph, I thought: "That's my childhood." Except it wasn't light blueberries in my buckets, it was heavy pebbles. (And I was thin petite thing too.)Truth is, if parents don't raise their kids from when they're little to work, it becomes almost impossible to introduce, cultivate and instill those ethics later.

  • Waterbaby

    P.S. If you need help learning to master that bull whip, I can point you to the right people …

  • Kimber

    I guess I need to think of work in terms of things like cooking, etc, too and not just farm work. My 12 year old son does make killer lasagna and apple pie…

  • Freedom Smith

    That is right, Kimber. Good skills to know and you would not believe the kids that come over to see my children and they have never been allowed or taught to cook! My kids love to cook (now, cleaning up after is not their favorite).

  • Ladywise

    Kimber, do like Super Nanny does and put a chart up on the wall somewhere of who does what chores. Easier chores go to the younger kids, and move up and in age. Make each chore worth points through the week that can be traded in for driving lessons, or trips to the mall or something. They learn that they have to work to earn the things that they get whether it involves money or not. They would also get a much better picture of what you do all day.

  • Waterbaby

    I agree with Ladywise's suggestion – to a point. When my sister and I were little, that's what my mother did. She taped a chart of our daily home chores. And we might get a star if we did something particularly well, but those stars didn't accrue for a reward (like Ladywise is suggesting). I see no reason for rewards; completing a task well is reward enough.

  • Waterbaby

    whoops! … I hit send too soon before I'd finished the sentence … I see no reason for rewards; completing a task well is reward and satisfaction enough and kids should be taught that. You start putting a carrot at the end of every work stick and kids won't learn the value of work, they'll aim only for the carrot ….

  • Kate

    I have a hard time with rewards, too. I always tell my children, "We do this because we're part of a family. That's what families do."

  • Waterbaby

    Rewards was not a concept in my family. Hard labor was. Granted, it was cruel slave labor BUT what it instilled was a ridiculously complete understanding about work and contribution. You did what needed to be done and laziness was not tolerated; in fact, in my home, it wasn't even a concept. And if you didn't like or care for the task, tough luck, you did it anyway because another thing that wasn't tolerated was whining. Needless to say, nothing in our large yard died except the weeds and gophers!

  • Kimber

    Yes, my oldest totally feels persecuted. Funny how everyone else does, too…

  • Kimber

    I have made so many charts over the years that when I post another my children actually laugh at me. I've never done rewards because, well, I'm lazy and keeping track and dishing out would make even more work for me, which is counter productive. And like Kate does, I tell them–hey, I don't care who made the mess–we're family and family members help one another.

  • Kimber

    I use that same phrase! I really want some animals though, because I think you're right–you can't forget to milk the cow or feed the chicken for a week and then go back and catch up later! And we actually could, here, in this neighborhood. I'm sure the neighbors will love me. Almost as much as I love them…

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