Teaching children values

I would like to share a story with you this week about a young man who was applying for an executive position in a large organisation.  Having passed the first interview he was short-listed and had to attend a second interview with the Managing Director of the company.  The MD was very impressed with the young man’s CV and asked whether he had been educated on  scholarship.  The young man said that he hadn’t.

“Who paid for your education?” asked the MD

“My father did” the young man replied.

“And what work does your father do?

“My father is a metalworker.”

The MD then asked, “Can I look at your hands?” And the young man duly showed him a pair of hands that were soft and clean with perfectly manicured nails.

“Have you ever helped your father in his work?” enquired the MD

“No, never” responded the young man “my parent preferred that I should study and read my books.  My father is much better at manual jobs than I am.”

“I have a request” said the MD, “when you get home this evening, I would like you to wash your father’s hands and then come back to see me in the morning.”

Being asked to return the following day, the young man felt he stood a reasonable chance of actually getting the job.

When he got home, asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands.  His father was somewhat surprised but agreed.  The young man washed his father’s hands slowly and methodically.  He’d never examined his father’s hands before and noticed scars and callouses on them.  There were also some painful looking bruises.

Seeing the appalling condition of his father’s hands the young man began to appreciate that these hands were responsible for working each and every day to earn the money that had paid for his education.  The bruises and scars had been the price the father had paid so that his son could have a better future.  When the young man had finished washing the hands, he went to tidy and clean up his father’s workshop.  Later he spent a long time talking with his father.

The following morning, the young man went back to see the MD.  Noticing that the young man was tearful, the MD asked whether he had learned anything from the task he had set him.

The young man said that he had.  Having washed his father’s hands and then tidied and cleaned the workshop, he had learned that without his parents he would not be the person that he was today.  He had realised by helping his father how doing things alone was very difficult and that he could appreciate the value and importance of helping his family.

The MD told him that this was exactly what he was looking for in his staff.  People who could appreciate the assistance of others, who recognised the suffering of others in getting things done and didn’t focus entirely on money as their primary goal. And then the MD gave the young man the job.

So what can we, as parents, learn from this story?
As parents, we want to protect our children and make sure that they are content, giving them the best that we can.  However, children that always get what they want are likely to develop a mentality of putting themselves first without appreciating how much their parents do for them. If parents are over protective are they demonstrating love or destroying their children?

You can provide your child with a wonderful home, state of the art technology including a computer for studies, the latest Xbox, a plasma TV in the bedroom, good food and the latest designer clothes.  However, when you are washing the dishes, cleaning the house, washing the car or any other domestic task you should ensure that your children take some responsibility.  The fact that you may be able to afford to pay someone to carry out these tasks is irrelevant.  If you want your children to have values and you want to love them in the right way setting them simple tasks to help you is an excellent way to achieve this.

It’s important that your children appreciate the effort you have put in to provide them with those things they want or need and the possible hardship that you have endured to achieve it.  You can teach them how to develop a work ethic and how team effort can get things done much more quickly.

Teaching children values from a very early age will ensure that as they grow older they will be well rounded individuals with an appreciation of the benefits hard work brings.  Etiquette classes can greatly assist you in teaching children values that they will need throughout their lives.

For more information on our Etiquette Classes and Family Coaching do contact me either by telephone or via our contact page.