Get To Work! How Do You Instill A Positive Work Ethic In Your Kids?

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May 28, 2013 ‐ By

Tired of picking up after her kids, one mom, Kay Wyma, put a yearlong “task list” into effect for her children (ages five through 16) that covered everything from chores to volunteer work.

Today, she’s become the author of the book Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment To Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement and a public speaker, teaching parents how to get their kids to give up their entitled ways. Part of the problem is with the parents, she says, who don’t want to see their kids fail.

“Failure is inevitable,” she told the TODAY show in a segment that aired this morning. “Welcome to life. Wouldn’t you rather let them fail in your house? At least you’re there loving them.”

“Who wants kids who think the world revolves around them? And that’s a gift to them,” she continues.

It all sounds kind of common sense until you start reading stories about how people in the workplace think millennials — other people’s children — are entering the workforce with lazy, entitled attitudes. Basically, they don’t know the value of hard work and earning your keep. So maybe this mom is on to something?

Parenting has been a big news topic lately, most recently when Will Smith made some controversial statements in a magazine interview about his and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s parenting style. In that article, Smith talks about the fact that his kids are following in his footsteps by working throughout their youth, but he pushes back on the idea of doing traditional chores, something that’s clearly core to the philosophy discussed on the TODAY show (clip below), and goes further to say African American parenting styles might be rooted in slavery. ICYMI here, Smith says, in part:

My style of parenting is very similar to that of my parents, minus the concept of ownership. I think that, specifically in African American households, the idea coming out of slavery, there’s a concept of your children being property and that was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids. We respect our children the way we would respect any other person. Things like cleaning up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don’t tell our kids to clean their rooms. Actually, we tell our kids ‘you don’t have a room, that’s our room and we are letting you borrow it.’ So the same way you would say to an adult if you let them use car, you say, ‘Yo man, clean my car! Don’t drive around all filthy like that!’ And it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want an adult to clean your car, so we feel it’s perfectly reasonable to ask our kids to clean the rooms that we are letting them use.

So parents, what is the key to instilling a positive work ethic in kids? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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