Q: I've been out of college for four years, and I'm watching many of my peers getting everything they want -- good jobs, nice homes, world travel, etc. But they still seem unhappy, at least to me. Am I weird for wanting to take things slower?
Jim: We're surrounded by the danger signs of a world moving too fast. From microwaves to fast food, computers to mobile phones, we've become accustomed to easy and immediate results. The demand to produce more in less time is increasing, and the ingredients we need to live well-rounded lives are being stripped away. That brings problems.
The first is an attitude of impatience and entitlement. Our society wants what it wants, and it wants it right now. We've forgotten that authentic success can't be rushed; it often takes hard work over a long period of time. But when people lose sight of this, they take shortcuts to achieve maximum results with minimal effort. Consider the athletes caught in doping scandals, or individuals hoping to lose weight without eating right or exercising. The list could go on and on.
A second problem with instant gratification is that it weakens our character. Building success slowly gives us a chance to develop as people. And as our character is strengthened, so is our ability to handle success. Many people have raced to the top, only to lose it all because they lacked the character to handle the responsibility their success demanded.
The faster our world moves, the more diligent we must be to pursue not only success, but character as well. As one writer expressed it: "We all want to be, but few of us are willing to become."
So, are you "weird"? No -- I think you're wise.
Q: What do you think about paying our school-aged children for doing household tasks? As a child, I always received an allowance if I did my chores. But my husband believes that kids need to work without being paid; he says that's just part of being a family.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: There's no right or wrong answer here. Some parents believe in paying an allowance, others pay their kids for individual chores. Still others don't pay anything at all but give their children money for purchases based on their overall attitude and helpfulness.
Whatever system you decide to adopt, it's important to remember that one of your major goals is to prepare your children to live in the "real world" -- the world of work, taxes, giving and investments. In that world, nobody is going to pay them for making their beds or taking out the trash. On the other hand, they will be paid for things like managing a group of employees, tuning up somebody's car or selling a pair of shoes to a very demanding customer.
With that in mind, here's what I suggest. Children ought to perform certain tasks around the house simply because they are part of the family. This could include jobs such as taking care of their own rooms, picking up their toys, helping to prepare meals, washing their own clothes, and yes, even taking out the trash.
On the other hand, it's fine to pay children for chores that demand more time and energy -- contributions to the life of the household that "go beyond the call of duty." This list might include activities like mowing the lawn, washing the car, or, in the case of a responsible teenager, baby-sitting a younger brother or sister for an entire Saturday afternoon.
One final note: Helping kids learn how to give, save and spend their money is just as important as teaching them how to earn it.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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