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Family CommentariesFamily Farm

Rather than trying to keep my children entertained all day, I believe that I should be training them on a minute-by-minute basis toward the goal of becoming godly adults. What better way than to include them as much as is possible in whatever I am doing, so they will learn to live as I do? I try to find ways so that even the little ones can help me, but it is also good for them to learn to just watch and listen, as well.

Sewing is a good example. I often sew or type with a baby on my lap and a toddler playing with my button box on the floor next to me. Slightly older children can help by cutting out patterns or they can play with my scraps. At eleven years old, my daughter could do much of the actual sewing and ironing and we would be able to finish a dress in half the time by working as a team. It was also a lot more fun than trying to give her a "sewing lesson". We just treat sewing like any other chore we need to get done, and we try to enjoy all our chores.

I try to treat everything else similarly. As I go about my day, I try to especially include the younger children in the things I am doing. If I'm in the kitchen, I will call the six year old to unload the dishwasher and the eight year old to help with the actual cooking and clean up. The two and three year olds climb up on the stools at the counter and watch (I never have to call them). They love to lick bowls and munch on scraps of things I am making.

Same thing when I'm working in the yard. I might give the younger ones a garden tool to dig with, or I'll set them to work collecting the weeds I'm pulling, and throwing them out for me. Of course there's always lots the older ones can do.

Dad does the same thing. He includes the children in his office work by giving them any job they can handle, often with the older ones teaching the younger. All except the babies are taught to run the fax machine, make copies on the copier, work the computers and calculators, type, file, etc.�( Our oldest, Shane, at thirteen, handled all the computer support work for our in-home office as well as our out-of-home, five-person business office.) This is all done informally by simply including them in Dad's work. The children take turns accompanying Dad to business meetings whenever possible. If Dad is not home all day, as is the case in most families, he can include them in what he does when he is home; mowing the lawn, taking care of the car, fixing things, handling the family finances, etc. In everything we do, it is an opportunity to teach godliness to our children.

BEWARE of doing all the work yourselves and letting your kids play all day so they can �enjoy their childhood.� This will only result in a adult who is self-centered and lazy, and has a �the world owes me a living� attitude. When people hear the term �spoiled� in regard to a child, they often laugh and think of it as a temporary thing that can be sort of cute at times. Nothing could be more backward. When I used to own and ride horses, I often heard the term �spoiled� in regard to a particular type of animal. In the horse world, this was never cute. A spoiled horse was one whom BAD TRAINING HAD RUINED PERMANENTLY!

Deuteronomy 6:7 � -� �And you shall teach them (God�s laws) diligently to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.�

Teaching Fiscal Responsibility

Just a quick note about money. None of our children have ever been told they had to work to earn their "own" money. We never gave allowances either. Actually, they really don't have their "own" money period. I don't have my "own" money either. All our money belongs to all of us. Yes, my husband and I are in authority ultimately, so we control the money to an extent with the younger children, but as our children get older, that authority (to handle money) is turned over to them more and more. For example, the younger ones may get a few dollars for their birthdays that they are allowed to keep in their drawers, but if I need it to buy a birthday card or whatever, then they gladly donate it to the cause. Later, if they need new pencils or a notebook, I give them money to buy it and don't make them take it from money they've saved. With the older kids, we give them money as needed and sometimes a little extra in case of emergencies. As they get older, we are less and less controlling about this, and don't really keep track of what they have or don't have. They are never allowed to just spend money for anything they please. They are always taught to spend wisely. That's a prerequisite. This method will not work unless you teach your child to be good steward and spend wisely.

I often borrow from the kids to pay the music teachers and may or may not pay it back. If the kids do jobs for the neighbors, they do not accept money. Same if they baby-sit for a relative or something similar. Occasionally if they do a bigger job (like watch the neighbor's dog for 2 weeks while they are on vacation), then they are allowed to accept payment, and they don't have to share it with the family, but yet they can't spend it on just any old thing either. We teach all our children to spend wisely from the time they are small. We just use all of our money to do it rather than dividing it up into "us" and "their" money.

So far this method (which I haven't explained very well) has produced very fiscally responsible teens and young adults. Our 21yo is doing very well at managing his own internet business, our 19yo does all my shopping and does a better job than me, and our 17yo does all my personal bookkeeping including paying my bills and balancing my checkbook and even keeping me supplied with cash as needed. All three of our oldest kids have their own credit cards which are on our account and we can trust them not to abuse it. I never have to even check on their spending because I can see that they are handling money very well. They keep the family cars full of gas and they take on many of the family responsibilities (like car repairs) that most parents do instead.

I should add that our oldest 2 boys now work at my husband's office and are paid a salary (for bookkeeping reasons) which they just put right in the bank and we continue on as before. We're not sure what this money will go for, but at this point it doesn't matter. If they needed it individually it would be there, and if the family needed it for something, it would be there. This is part of the family farm concept.�

Proverbs 17:17 - " A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." (TLB)

(c) Copyright 2007 L. Elizabeth Krueger.  All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.