Author Topic: Kids and Free Labor  (Read 19495 times)

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Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #45 on: September 27, 2013, 09:59:13 AM »
I understand the Tween wasn't happy, but is it because he expected to lay on the couch and watch TV or play video games while there? I'm not trying to be rude, but I raised two kids, and they thought summer vacation from school meant VACATION from doing anything they didn't like to do.


I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents.

Doing chores and looking after themselves /= doing unpaid labour on a project that is not directly related to them, that an adult would be paid a considerable amount for.

"Helping" is doing the dishes, making beds, cleaning up after themselves, maybe cooking a meal now and then. This is something outside that.
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Dindrane

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #46 on: September 27, 2013, 10:05:39 AM »
I think that, in general, letting "kids be kids" sets young people up for a life in which they don't know how to work hard, where they don't work hard in college because it's just an extension of childhood, where they go out into the real world and have trouble adjusting to working hard all day because it's a completely new experience.  I think that teaching kids that they are valuable and important, that they can do real things that benefit themselves and other people, might help with some of the problems our society has with "perpetual childhood" and adults who act like children.  In fact, our childhood of play, with a few chores, is so completely different from basically how most children have lived throughout all of human history (except perhaps from the upper classes and nobility, who lived lives of leisure even as adults anyway).  It's not cruel to expect a child to do real work.  Now, if the adults really are sitting around sipping margaritas while the kids are working all the time, it's certainly going to create resentment.  But if the family as a whole works together, I think that's a good, not a bad, thing.

I don't agree with this at all. The amount of free work kids do for their families does not determine how hard they are willing to work as adults, or how successful they will be. It's a matter of parenting and setting expectations.

I grew up in a "let kids be kids" household. I barely did chores, and what chores I did do were things like doing my own laundry, not doing laundry for the family. I'm sure many people would think my parents were crazy for giving me an allowance basically for free, since there wasn't anything in particular I had to do in order to receive it, and I never had it taken away from me. My parents paid, in full, for my college education and living expenses, and gave me my first car.

And yet, I always worked very hard in school, and I work very hard as an adult now. I learned the value of work not from being expected to do significant work around the house for free, but by being expected to find and keep paid employment when I wasn't in school. I got my first summer job when I was 15. Starting as a sophomore in college, my parents expected me to work in a part time job during the school year as well. The money I earned was mine, but as my ability to earn income increased, my parents' expectations about what I would pay for out of my own funds also grew.

The value of work, and the value of working hard, can be taught in a lot of different ways. Some families do it by expecting significant contributions from their children without monetary compensation. Other families do it by expecting their children to work for pay, either within the family or outside of it. Both methods can produce adults who are productive members of society, and can produce adults who have no sense of the value of work and refuse to do it whenever possible. The work itself is not the determining factor in that.


Virg

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #47 on: September 27, 2013, 10:06:36 AM »
hannahmollysmom wrote:

"I see kids fly by here on skate boards without protection. How can this be less dangerous than what the grandparents had him do?"

If he injured himself on a skateboard the insurance company is unlikely to deny coverage on the basis that workman's comp should cover the claim.  Doing demolition work on a house for people with a history of flipping houses for profit is likely to draw that sort of response.  As Twik said, just because kids will tend to ingore their own safety doesn't make it reasonable to put them at risk, and flipping a house can be dangerous work for someone that young.

Two Ravens wrote:

"I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents."

The two things here that miss the heart of it are that it wasn't his parents telling him to do the work, and flipping a house is a lot more work than doing the dishes.  Your example would parallel if he was asked to do the dishes at a commercial restaurant for a full work shift every day, which is far beyond what most people would consider normal for a tween.

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Two Ravens

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #48 on: September 27, 2013, 10:13:48 AM »
Two Ravens wrote:

"I was thinking this too. I mean, how many parents ask for their kid's consent before they tell them to clean their room or do the dishes? Part of being part of a household means helping out. Most teenagers would must rather loaf on the couch and play video games rather than help their parents/grandparents."

The two things here that miss the heart of it are that it wasn't his parents telling him to do the work, and flipping a house is a lot more work than doing the dishes.  Your example would parallel if he was asked to do the dishes at a commercial restaurant for a full work shift every day, which is far beyond what most people would consider normal for a tween.

Virg

Virg, I don't understand how "it wasn't his parents" argument applies. It was his grandparents, whom he was living with for the summer. They are, in effect, acting as his parents as his parents aren't around. The grandparents were the ones feeding him and keeping a roof over his head.

Perhaps the amount of work being asked was excessive, but that doesn't mean they didn't have a right to ask him anything.

Virg

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #49 on: September 27, 2013, 10:21:52 AM »
Two Ravens wrote:

"Virg, I don't understand how "it wasn't his parents" argument applies. It was his grandparents, whom he was living with for the summer. They are, in effect, acting as his parents as his parents aren't around. The grandparents were the ones feeding him and keeping a roof over his head."

The point is that the grands should have asked his actual parents before doing this, because they aren't his parents and asking would have taken very little effort.  As I said above, we sent one of our kids to stay with the grands, and I left reasonable stuff up to them, but if they had wanted to put him to full time employment on what's essentially a construction site, I'd have fully expected them to ask me first because that's far beyond what I would reasonably expect a tween to be doing and it's frankly a liability nightmare.  I agree that the grands didn't really need to ask the boy's consent before putting him to this level of work, but they most certainly did need to ask his parents' consent before doing so.

Virg

Zilla

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #50 on: September 27, 2013, 10:29:07 AM »
I feel like two of my values are in conflict here - teaching kids a strong work ethic, vs. having strong communication, transparency, and trust.

A family expecting their tween was going to the grandparent's house to relax and be spoiled with trips to get ice cream or the beach, and finding out they were doing hard labor instead? Not cool.

A family expecting the tween to be doing age appropriate hard labor as a learning experience, with some amount of compensation (like a trip to get ice cream or to the beach)? Fine by me.


The major difference for me and what would be happening in MY household is this:  Give the tween a choice.  Let him/her "work" for the rewards of ice cream/beach/vegging on days to watch TV and play games.  If he/she refuses, then they come along with a book, paper and pen.  If they agree, then they learn ethics of working and rewards.  If they don't, they see the consequence of not working.  Both are valuable lessons.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #51 on: September 27, 2013, 10:32:24 AM »
I feel like two of my values are in conflict here - teaching kids a strong work ethic, vs. having strong communication, transparency, and trust.

A family expecting their tween was going to the grandparent's house to relax and be spoiled with trips to get ice cream or the beach, and finding out they were doing hard labor instead? Not cool.

A family expecting the tween to be doing age appropriate hard labor as a learning experience, with some amount of compensation (like a trip to get ice cream or to the beach)? Fine by me.

Based on the father's experience living growing up with his parents, I can't imagine why he would think that a summer break there would consist of relaxing, the beach, and ice cream. 

If my parent's were still alive and I sent my son for a month with my Dad I would make sure he knew his week would consist of hauling hay, feeding cows, mowing pastures, cutting underbrush, and probably a how bunch of work in the garden and maybe even helping Dad out with some home repairs. And no, I wouldn't expect or want him to be compensated by anything other than some really awesome meals my mom would cook, going on some fun fishing trips, learning to drive a tractor and probably the truck on the ranch, and maybe doing some skeet shooting.

While I think the GP's should have given a head's up about the GP's plans to flip a house, the GP's may have saw it as an opprtuntity to expose their grandson to some pretty useful skills and may have taken on the flip as an opportunity to teach him and keep him busy. I can almost hear the GP's having a morning coffee conversation.
GM: What are we going to do with the boy for a month to keep him entertained?
GP: I don't know, we can't have him just sitting watching TV all day. He'll be bored to death.
GM: With our kids we always had a house project to keep them occupied.
GP: Well maybe we should flip a small house. It'll give him something to do and we can teach him some carepentry and plumbing skills.
 

ladyknight1

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #52 on: September 27, 2013, 10:44:14 AM »
It should not have been the grandparents decision to have a tween (under age 13) doing heavy demolition and building work. Just the liability issues are paramount.

They would not see my child again alone if that happened in my family.

I believe in the value of work. My DS has been doing chores since he could walk, but he didn't get an allowance in return until he was 7. As part of his responsibilities he had to empty the garbage from all the small cans around the house, empty the dryer and bring the clothes to the bedroom they belonged to, and do all of his homework without complaint. At age 14, he started working his own summer job as a camp counselor in training as a volunteer position. This summer, age 15, he was a program counselor and worked 8 weeks for pay. During the school year, school is his primary job, but he has responsibilities and chores he must do to keep other activities occurring.

Fun activities are just as good as pay in my opinion, Hmmmm. I would agree that work on the farm is balanced out by shooting, learning to drive and fishing.

EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #53 on: September 27, 2013, 10:44:50 AM »
I have a certain view of parenting and family, and a certain visualizatin of this situation (as we all do), and I really don't think the grandparents did anything wrong.

1) Yes, a heads-up to the parents would be Best Practices. The grandparents assumed that the parents were okay with it, rather than explicitly discussing it - not Good Form.  However, let's not lose sight of the fact that their assumption was, in fact, correct.  The parents did NOT have a problem with it. Perhaps this speaks to how well they know and understand their son and daughter in law, or a certain level of shared attitudes/values in the family. Not every family has that, but apparently this family does.

2) I think the hyperbole about "being electrocuted" is overdone.  Doing "apprentice electrician" work does not generally involve live current - he was probably bending conduit and stringing unconnected wire, handing off tools, etc.  Patching a roof can be done from inside or outside, though an 11-12 year old kid on a roof with supervision does not strike me as radically more dangerous than anything else an 11-12 year old kid would be likely to do WITHOUT supervision.

3) There is a big parenting philosophy split here, as well.  If a 9-12 year old kid is living with his grandparents for the summer, and Grandma and Grandpa are going over to work on their new house today, no.  I don't think the kid is entitled to say "You have to stay home and watch me play video games, or you have to take me to the zoo, because I don't feel like helping." Neither do I think he is entitled to sit around on his kiester while his what? 60-70 year old? grandparents are working.  That dog won't hunt in my family.  This is not child abuse or exploitation, this is family respect, and grownups being the leaders and decisionmakers of what the family is doing.  So it should be. (in my view).  I really, really doubt that the kid's mom and dad would have sent him to his grandparents' for the whole summer if it were some kind of Dickensian workhouse.  The dad grew up with these folks, the mom knows them and has heard all the dad's stories - and they chose the grandparents as safe, appropriate and caring people to keep their son for three months. 

I do think the boy has the right to say, "I'm scared to go up on the roof" or "this sledgehammer is too heavy for me," etc, - he has some voice in what tasks are appropriate or that he is able to do.  I also think it would be good if the grandparents paid him.  However, surely a tween is old enough to understand that the nice house he lives in with Grandma and Grandpa, and the nice food on the table, and his nice Christmas presents, etc - all exist because of this work.  Enjoying the fruits of your labors is one of the greatest and most reliable pleasures in life, and the "fruits" are not always financial - sometimes they are tangible and direct. I don't think its ever to early to start drawing those connections.




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MindsEye

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #54 on: September 27, 2013, 10:55:56 AM »
If my parent's were still alive and I sent my son for a month with my Dad I would make sure he knew his week would consist of hauling hay, feeding cows, mowing pastures, cutting underbrush, and probably a how bunch of work in the garden and maybe even helping Dad out with some home repairs. And no, I wouldn't expect or want him to be compensated by anything other than some really awesome meals my mom would cook, going on some fun fishing trips, learning to drive a tractor and probably the truck on the ranch, and maybe doing some skeet shooting.

Indeed.  When I was growing up my great-aunt Mary and great-uncle Alvin, owned a small dairy farm in Amish country.  All of us cousins were welcome to spend time in the summer with them on the farm... BUT if you went, you worked on the farm right beside Alvin and Mary.  Don't want to pitch in with the farm work?  Then don't go to the farm.  Go to the farm and refuse to pitch in?  Get sent home.  (Yes, this did happen once... and Mary and Alvin let it be known that the cousin who pulled that particular stunt wasn't welcome back.) 

BUT, again... that was about setting expectations.  Everyone knew upfront that if they went to the farm, they weren't going to spend all day every day paddling in the duck pond or napping under the fruit trees.

In the case of the OP... the son knew how his parents were, and he was fine with the work that his kid did, so one imagines that he must have had a pretty good idea about what the kid's life would be like while staying with his parents.

Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #55 on: September 27, 2013, 11:22:20 AM »
2) I think the hyperbole about "being electrocuted" is overdone.  Doing "apprentice electrician" work does not generally involve live current - he was probably bending conduit and stringing unconnected wire, handing off tools, etc.  Patching a roof can be done from inside or outside, though an 11-12 year old kid on a roof with supervision does not strike me as radically more dangerous than anything else an 11-12 year old kid would be likely to do WITHOUT supervision.

That's if it's done properly. We don't know for sure if the grandparents are absolutely fanatical about safety, or are the sort who check to see if wires are live by touching them.

I know a young roofer who had to quit his job after he took a fall while working, so even adults can fall. I would be livid if someone took my child up on a roof without my express permission.
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CocoCamm

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2013, 11:23:19 AM »
Thanks for the replies everyone they have certainly been very thought provoking. I don't have time to post a complete response right now but I did want to answer a few questions.

Son found out about the work the day it began but after the days work was done. This was my real issue. I feel like a parent should be asked beforehand if it's ok that their kid spend all day doing labor.

The house was worked on at least five days a week for about eight hours a day so this was a full time job that Tween was tasked with.

Twik

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #57 on: September 27, 2013, 11:27:38 AM »
Indeed.  When I was growing up my great-aunt Mary and great-uncle Alvin, owned a small dairy farm in Amish country.  All of us cousins were welcome to spend time in the summer with them on the farm... BUT if you went, you worked on the farm right beside Alvin and Mary.  Don't want to pitch in with the farm work?  Then don't go to the farm.  Go to the farm and refuse to pitch in?  Get sent home.  (Yes, this did happen once... and Mary and Alvin let it be known that the cousin who pulled that particular stunt wasn't welcome back.) 

BUT, again... that was about setting expectations.  Everyone knew upfront that if they went to the farm, they weren't going to spend all day every day paddling in the duck pond or napping under the fruit trees.

In the case of the OP... the son knew how his parents were, and he was fine with the work that his kid did, so one imagines that he must have had a pretty good idea about what the kid's life would be like while staying with his parents.

The thing here is that the boy apparently didn't have the choice you indicate. If he didn't work, what were the consequences?

I have to say that I would expect a preteen to do chores associated with their normal living, like cleaning or cooking. But being required to do professional-level work, with no reward at the end of it(he's not even going to be living in the flipped house when it's finished) seems unfair. I don't see how this creates a "work ethic," because it breeds resentment of work, rather than the sensation, "hey, if I work really hard, good things result!"
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EllenS

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #58 on: September 27, 2013, 11:34:49 AM »

The thing here is that the boy apparently didn't have the choice you indicate. If he didn't work, what were the consequences?


I would expect, if his parents were forced to change their plans or suddenly make alternate arrangements for the summer, that the boy would be receiving a rather heavy consequence when he got home.  Which, in my mind, would be appropriate for bratty behavior.

I know this is a matter of personal opinion, but my personal opinion is that any ablebodied young man of this age, who would refuse to help his grandparents, or look them in the eye and say "no" when asked to work, has been extremely poorly brought up.  I am glad to see that the young man in this story was brought up better.
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JoieGirl7

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Re: Kids and Free Labor
« Reply #59 on: September 27, 2013, 11:51:31 AM »
From what I have read, the father had no problem with what transpired.  It is the OP who has a problem with it but its really not an etiquette issue.
 
If she doesn't want to raise her kids that way, that's her prerogative.  But, the disagreements here are about oarenting style not etiquette.