Sunday, June 21, 2009

When did we get tired of our children?

As I believe I have mentioned before, my dad is the Presiding County Commissioner in my home town. As I believe I've also mentioned, my dad taught me some of the greatest lessons I've learned...and very few of them were strictly academic.

Today, when I called him to wish a happy father's day, we began talking about work. He was wondering if we had received any teen workers through the extra workforce initiative money that was provided by the government this summer.

He went on to tell me that Ozark county was provided five teen interns. Having them there allows them the opportunity to get some things done in the county that may have been put on the back burner otherwise. But, the downside to employing teenagers is that they don't do much unless he stays with them and stays on them. Sound like any teenagers you know?

When I asked why he was supervising them (after all, he is the Presiding County Commissioner...you'd think that someone else could be appointed to supervise them), he explained that no one wanted to.

What struck me about that is that no one wants to deal with kids or teenagers...no one wants to stay on top of them to teach them, mentor them, and guide them to make sure they get their work done. People don't want to "waste" their time on them. But then we wonder why (and gripe and complain when) our kids are growing into unproductive adults who don't know how to take initiative and don't have job skills.

This is not the first time my dad has employed teenagers. He always employed my brother and I. But it wasn't just me. He hired teenagers from the DECA program at school. He hired my cousin in the summer. He always hired high school boys to haul hay in the summers.

I'm sure there were more effective workers than we were. I'm sure he could've hired people that would've scraped paint and painted much better than we did. I'm sure he hated to hear us moan and groan when he and my mom woke us up at 6:00 a.m. on Saturdays to run the hogs. I'm sure we wasted time (and money) trying to avoid work we didn't like and I'm sure he knew more than we expected he did. I'm sure it would've been easier for him to just say, "Forget it. I'll find someone else." or "I'll pay someone else more to get a better outcome." and let us laze around in the summers. But he never gave in.

I believe it is because of my dad that many people are probably productive workers today. He took time with all of us to employ us and to supervise us.

I hope I can always follow his example with teenagers (and adults, for that matter) who have few chances and opportunities to gain the on-the-job skills so necessary to understanding a work environment.

When did our society get so tired of our children that we'd rather do things ourselves rather than "deal with" the kids by taking the extra time and putting the extra effort into teaching them what they need to know now so the future will be more promising for all of us??

Thanks, Pops, for being that example then and continuing to be that example to other teenagers today.

And Happy Father's Day!
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