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Are we teaching work ethic to our kids?

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I remember the exact moment that I questioned my role in preparing my daughter for the workforce. I was a manager in a training session with a group of employees being promoted to supervisors, and one of them asked:

"How do I teach someone to sweep the floor and mop?"

I looked at this newly-promoted supervisor dumbfounded. I don’t quite remember how I replied but I do remember going back to work and wondering how many of my workers I had taught to sweep and mop a floor and wondering why they don’t come to their first jobs already knowing how to do this.

I realized that you likely won’t find a mop in most homes, with the invention of things like the Swiffer. So kids don’t know how to glide a mop back and forth in a semi-circular motion to ensure the best dirt collection.

This little question has stayed with me.

I am no longer a manager anywhere but in my own home and, truthfully, I don’t own a mop. I wash my floors on my hands and knees, just like I saw my momma do. But I do own a broom, and yes, I have tried to make a point of teaching my daughter how to use it.

My husband and I also try to use chores to teach work ethic. Where else but home do you learn work ethic before you get out into the working world?

I had the same conversation with a friend recently. Her kids don’t really do chores. When they need something, they ask, and she buys it. Her oldest daughter wants to get a job, so I asked her how she had prepared her for her first job.

Can she sweep a floor? Have you ever given her a list of chores to do and then inspected that she has done them? Has she ever had to make her allowance stretch for one, two, or four weeks until she gets "paid" again?

With a first job, our kids need to know these skills and we know it’s a never-ending reality, making money last until the next payday.

Think about it. In doing chores, our kids are expected to do a task, complete it and do it well.
If they don’t do it well, they shouldn’t get paid for it. If they do get paid for work not done well are we teaching them that they just have to show up to earn the paycheques?

Tannis Ross is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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