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Train up a child…

The other day as I was lamenting over the length of my to-do list and the kids were running around like mad men, it hit me. “Why aren’t these kids helping out more?

We give them shelter. We give them food, clothes, etc. etc. And none of it is free. None of it comes without sacrifice, without work. But that’s how life is and we know it. They don’t. They are just kids.

Soon, God willing, they will be adults and I guess that switch in their brains will flip at a certain age and they will understand (and accept) that life is work, sacrifice.

Um, no!

That’s not how it works. That reasoning (or assumption) is the reason, I believe, our society is the way it is.


Just because you are breathing you are entitled to certain things no matter how little effort you put into getting those things, right?


But that’s the way we are training our kids.

It’s like we are continually feeding them the subliminal message: “All you have to do is wake up, play with the gazillion toys we give you at your every whim, eat all you can eat, then obey what I say (mostly) and go to sleep in peace and do it all again tomorrow!”

And they continue on their joy ride for about 18 years (longer for others) and then one day they wake up, work slaps them in the face, they get on with it and life lives on happily ever after.

Unfortunately, I believe the lack of work we experience as children makes the constant work we (should) have to do as adults almost unbearable.

It’s unfair. It’s monotonous. When will it be over so I can relax? And on and on and on until we die.

Even if it’s only subconscious, we always strive to find the peaceful time of childhood when all was done for us. A goal which is unachievable without time travel.

Maybe, though, if we train our kids to be hard workers now, to contribute, to “earn their keep,” to have some ownership and to expect to work, the transition won’t be so hard. Adulthood won’t be such a culture shock.

What if responsibility now equals freedom later, even if it’s only in their brains?

Their minds and thoughts won’t be chained down by the constant and never-to-be-quenched thirst to do whatever in the heck they want to do (all the time).

And I suppose mental acceptance of life’s status is the ultimate achievement, desire.


Maybe they will grow up with an actual desire to work, to seek accomplishment, to earn their keep. Maybe they will find pride (the good kind, if there is such a thing), in taking care of themselves and all that is their’s.

All of these thoughts have transpired into “this is how it works” boot camp at the Oehlschlager farm.

The other day we went over how to (correctly) make your bed. The older two are tall enough to take care of feeding certain outside animals. Every day.

I’m working out a plan to teach our way through the chores. When a child can do that chore according to our standards he or she will learn another.

There will be no allowance given for their time. We are going to expect them to work their hardest and complete the tasks to the best of their abilities.

It won’t be perfect (the hardest thing for me to accept), and it will take much longer to get things done at first, but it will be worth it.

They are worth it.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Categories: Life on the farm


My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

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