Listening to Myself

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A quote from Eisenhower

I often think today or what a difference it would make if children believed that they were contributing to a family's survival and happiness. In the transformation from a rural to an urban society, children are robbed of the opportunity to do genuinely responsible work. - Dwight D. Eisenhower, as quoted in How to Find your Ideal Country Home, by Gene GeRue.

I read this quote then stopped and read it again. I wonder if we've replaced this responsible work that Eisenhower speaks of with the busywork and deadlines of homework and schoolwork? Are we generally pushing our children aside from the chores they could help us with for the sake of speed and convenience, and is this a detriment to them? Not that we should be putting our children to work in the fields all day as soon as they can hold a tool (or in factories as soon as they are big enough to be useful, which I suppose is the urban equivalent) but that perhaps there should be a balance between children doing useful work around the house and garden, coupled with their academic learning. It seems to me that too often children are set aside from that work, so that the parents can do it faster and with less "trouble", but by doing so they are taking away the child's chance to be useful and helpful. I've really tried to get away from this mentality with Emma, and I think I do a decent job of it for the most part. She loves to help me in the kitchen, with my cleaning, and when I am out in the garden. Sometimes it takes a big deep breath before I can let her help, but it generally is quite rewarding for both of us - even if it takes twice as long. I think that for Emma, the phrase "thank you for being so helpful!" is the highest form of praise and the collorary phrase that she isn't being helpful is the one that inspires the deepest regret and apologies. This really wasn't entirely intentional, rather it just developed out of how we are hoping to inspire her to act. I've only thought about it more as she's gotten older and this behavior has gotten more distinct, and it makes me very proud of her.


  • Hi Amber! Emily told me about your blog, so I thought I’d stop by and say hello. I’ve enjoyed reading all your posts – I even went through all the archives!

    I’ve been hearing all sorts of cute and wonderful things about Emma; I’d love to see her again! (And you and Matt too, of course :)) If you guys are ever up in the area, I hope you’ll stop by our house for a visit!

    ~ Sarah

    By Blogger Sarah Marie, at 2:32 PM  

  • The archives! Oh no, not the archives!! *grin*

    I'd love to see you and your family again - I'm really hoping we can get up there sometime in the next month. I need to talk to Matt about it again and see what we can do. Any chance you all will be around the first weekend in August?

    By Blogger Amber, at 6:15 PM  

  • Actually, I'll be in Southern California that weekend playing my violin at a friend's wedding! :-P I might be able to make it home for the end of the weekend, though, if you guys were going to be around!

    By Blogger Sarah Marie, at 4:45 PM  

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