Work Ethic: Greatest Gift
A garden can not only be a mental health clinic and money saver but the vehicle by which parents can plant the seed of the greatest gift of all: the work ethic. The essence of the work ethic is a willingness and enjoyment of solving time-wasting problems independent of what one is being paid. When one has the work ethic, one has the happiness and pride of having fewer stressful time-wasting problems. When you give a child the work ethic you give them the keys to freedom, independence and happiness.
If you teach self-esteem, you affirm a person for the moment.
If you teach the work ethic, you affirm a person for a life.
At the age of eight I was required to plant, harvest and can a 2,000 sq. ft. garden as part of a living arrangement. Also, I earned money by shining shoes 40 to 50 hours per week. The time I spent without earphones planning, preparing and harvesting the garden gave me a step-up on my peers who parents shuttled the peers from one venue of play to another field of play. They not only wanted to continue to play after high school but they sweated the small shat because they found small problems to be stumbling blocks. Sadly, many of these parents with the post-war affluence wanted to re-live their lives by structuring their kids' lives around play rather than work. Like a garden, what we sow in the minds of the next generation is what we will reap in multiples.
As a problem-solving work ethicist, I find it amazing that both parents and kids do not get it. It is amazing how many people think that they are working because they hate their jobs for which they think they deserve more dollars. In truth, they are playaholics suffering withdrawal symptoms on the job from mental addiction to play. In lacking the work ethic, they find no joy in solving real problems. For playaholics suffering from the play pathos, they are proverbial pots that never boil because they spend more time watching the clock than solving problems.
Due to a fortunate meeting, my early life work ethic was buttressed and elevated by meeting a person who by explanation and example prompted me to go to college for an education to answer the question, "What is the meaning of life?" As he taught and showed, answering this question is the key to a meaningful life in which one can relate to more of humanity than the person who goes for money-seeking job-training.
If you want your kids to take better care themselves (and you when you cannot take care of yourself), teach them the work ethic in the only way possible by starting them to work early in small meaningful ways. A garden is a great place to not only work together but to set tasks of solitude with specific goals, e.g., weed the carrots. And, do not let them have any distracting music or earphones. Gardening is a time to get to know yourself better. If you half-arse gardens and half-wit offsprings, encourage them to play and self-distract.
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