I am a mother of five children and we have been on an educational journey at home for the last two years. Several thoughts I’ve had of education and children have transformed since then. In social settings I am reminded how much my thoughts have changed. People talk about ideas that were once normal to me and now seem so foreign. One of these ideas that has stuck out to me has been the cultural belief that children are a burden.
I’m sure you’ve heard some of these opinions. “We aren’t in the farm days anymore.” “People used to have kids to help out with the farm.” “Too bad that isn’t true now,” they say. “Kids are such a burden!”
What a terrible thought! Children are still amazingly valuable! I personally didn’t like hearing I was a burden as a child and I don’t want my children having that idea placed in their heads. They are marvelous, enjoyable beings full of potential! They simply need to be taught.
I’ve seen this cultural idea many places and it is basically just accepted as a truth you can do nothing about. There are articles outlining how much kids cost and how much you should have saved before you even think about starting a family. They talk about how much kids are going to plunder your bank account and encroach on your lifestyle. The overall social message is that the days of children being a beneficial asset are over and we are now living in a time when kids are just entitled, time and money suckers.
Children are a valuable investment and just like any investment of worth, it takes time and effort for that outcome to be realized. People hope that investments will grow as much as possible and they nourish those investments any chance they get. People carefully research and study their investments that often begin as a sacrifice. People experience a better return on their investments when careful time and effort are put in. Children are the best investment when we put that same amount of care into their learning and growth.
My little family is supported by our modern day engineering farm. My husband is an electrical engineering consultant for a variety of clients and helps them create new products. Of the 14 years I have been married, my husband has had a “real” job for 5 of those years. This is odd in our culture and our time, but all throughout history it is very normal for a family to find something they are good at and do the best they can to provide for their family using those skills.
Our family has good seasons and bad seasons just like a farm. There are ups and downs and many problems to solve, but we enjoy the fruits of being a family who works together. We fully expect our kids to help in this effort. We see them as a valuable asset to our work and we expect them to contribute where and how they can based on their abilities.
They are young and we are putting our effort into their learning habits and their belief that they are good enough to create and work. My husband and I are fostering their love of work and the benefit and joy they get from working, creating, and contributing.
Currently, they help the overall family goal by developing creative learning habits. I am often amazed at how much fun I am having when I’m sitting with a child teaching them while all of the other kids are slowly hacking away at their chore list in the middle of playing with their siblings. It is unbelievably fulfilling to have such help and work together as a team.
We also involve our older children in business meetings when it is appropriate and we will involve them more as they get older. We have had them help where they can. They do data organization, parts organization, and we involve them in solving problems. We hope that in a few years, after training and learning, they will be able to write code and help engineer for our engineering farm if they choose that direction.
Most people do not have engineering businesses out of their homes, but there are still so many ways for kids to contribute to their family. They must be trained and patiently taught. I am not a patient person by nature and it has been a struggle for me to carefully teach my children. I have even looked to youtube for tutorials for my kids to watch that teach chores like how to make a bed or how to clean a bathroom. It is a wonderful resource while I grow in my patience as a mother. You do not need to be the best teacher or the most patient person to begin teaching your children to be contributors to the family goal.
The reward of doing this is not something that happens overnight. I often wish that the growth and learning of myself and my children were as quick as those fascinating time lapse videos of plants growing and blooming within seconds. However, much like so many things, growth comes little by little. It is almost indiscernible, but after time and consistent effort, the reward is great.
Watching my grandparents age I have observed how they have been cared for by their children and grandchildren. It blesses everyone involved. During the last few years of my grandpa’s life we took our turn taking him dinner once a month with our kids. Those memories of hopping in the van to go to Grandpa Jack’s house to eat dinner and listen to his stories and harmonica playing are priceless. I have seen other family members sacrifice years of their own lives to take care of their aging parents. But something I’ve noticed is that if there isn’t much of an emotional bond that has been strengthened through time, there doesn’t seem to be a feeling of love or obligation.
I have found such a surprising amount of delight in teaching my children. They are my joy. I hope that as others are considering when to get married or how many children to have they will consider what an astonishingly amazing investment children still are.