Whistle While You Work

I have been thinking a lot lately about the correlation between hard work and self esteem.
I used to think that self esteem had a lot to do with positive reinforcement, mainly from the parents, and from a very young age.  But I recently read that self esteem has nothing to do with that.  It has a lot to do with accomplishing things a la hard work. 

I thought long and hard about that, and it made a lot of sense to me.  I was raised with six brothers and sisters.  Nine people in my family.  That makes a lot of mess.  And so, a lot to clean up.  And so, we had a lot of opportunity to work.  As long as I remember, I had chores.  Growing up we didn't have a dishwasher, and whenever my parents talked about buying one, we would tease them that they didn't need to buy a dishwasher, they just needed to have another kid because the housework was always delegated between us. We were always taught to work hard, and to do it right the first time instead of doing it over.   Oh the stories I could tell about having to do it over! 

Thinking back, I don't think anyone in my family ever really had self esteem issues.  That is not to say, no one was ever depressed (teenage years are hard, I tell you!) but all in all, there were no real self esteem problems.

And so, I want to teach my children to work hard.  I want them to know the satisfaction of a job well done.  The joy and exhilaration of completing something difficult.  I want them to be able to accomplish much, because they know about dedication and how to apply themselves.  I want most of all for them to have a healthy sense of self.

And so, I am doing what my parents did to me.  I am exploiting my children and their eagerness to help me.  And right now work is fun.  I hope that I can keep it fun for them always.  For if they know how to work hard, they will know how to be happy.  

A great and wonderful man, President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "The secret at this age is to keep busy,” he explained.  “Work, work, work is the best antidote for loneliness, incapacity or any other thing that happens to impede your progress. That's the only antidote I know. It's work that has saved me and has been an offset to the sorrow and loneliness I have felt." 

And so, I plan to follow his advice.

P.S.  Don't forget to bid on one of Heather's blankets!  They are beautiful, and all proceeds will go to help the victims of the disasters of Japan.


Anonymous said…
Isn't it nice to have little "helpers". I need to do better at letting my boys help. I sometimes get frustrated because things take so much longer; it's easier to do it myself. But that takes a valuable experience away from them. Thanks for sharing Amy! Btw, I have a master of the universe who has a similar problem as Jeff. He attempts to throw his wet towels in the hamper but somehow misses by inches. Ü
Susan Anderson said…
This is exactly true. Self esteem comes from successfully acting upon the world...not from passive compliments (even true and well-intentioned ones).

I wish I had understood this more when my kids were young.

Em said…
Great post Amy! I completely agree! Except I had a TON of self esteem issues. Supports your theory bc my parents has house keepers and gardeners. I have had to learn how to do it all over the last few years. My step brother and sister even had opares (nannies) growing up. I have found so much satisfaction and self esteem in learning to do the hard work myself, even though I don't always want to do it I'm always so proud of myself when it's done and so glad to have grown through the process. Do you remember the first time I really cleaned our tub when I was pregnant with max?!? Ahhh!!! LOL!!!
We are trying to instill in our girls a good work ethic, but are constantly challenged by them. It is quite frustrating to work so hard to teach your children one thing, and be met with another.
Heather said…
SWEET! As soon as Rowan is old enough to "get it" he will be wielding a mop! Boy, get to work! :0) I do believe it is true- I generally feel great after a hard days work and getting things done! Nothing feels better than productivity!

Thanks for the continuous shout out! You rock!! Now go down that Monster drink and get some house cleaning done! :0)
Anonymous said…
This is very, very true! Although sometimes lazy days are nice (lol) I find that I am often at my best when I am busy keeping my home.
Jenny said…
Lovely post. I totally agree with Sue's comment here.
Lourie said…
Growing up my mom worked. I was a "latch-key-kid." I started doing my laundry at age 12. My mom, to this day wishes she didn't have to work (then) and so I think I may over compensate by doing too much. And you are right, it makes you feel good when you accomplish even a simple task.

I love Pres. Hinckley!
I agree with everything you are saying! My kids like to work but I'm sure one of these days this attitude will change. Both Chris and I are very hard workers so this isn't optional for us.

Whenever I am struggling or frustrated even it has been hard work that keeps me together.
Emmy said…
I truly think you are onto something. Great great post. Now time to put my kids to work :)

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