A few years ago I attended the funeral of my uncle who was a successful rancher for more than 90 years. During the funeral his son described his dad’s hands as rough, snarled, and callused by a lifetime of hard work.
During the service I was sitting between my sister and another uncle who has been a dairy farmer all his life. I glanced at his hands and they were also chapped, cracked, and dry from milking thousands of cows over his lifetime. Those hands mowed, hauled, and stacked thousands of tons of hay well before modern technology was available. They planted and harvested hundreds of acres of grain. I looked at him again and noticed those big hands tenderly holding the hand of his sweetheart of over 50 years.
I turned my head to the right I noticed the hands of my father, the cowboy barber, who left the farm in his 20’s and over the next 65 years cut more than an estimated 100,000 heads of hair. As I looked at his hands I saw the hands roughened and callused by his days of working the farm had disappeared and had been replaced by hands conducive to cutting hair.
There are many commonalities between each of these three men and what they gained from their experiences on the farm. They learned the importance of working until the job was done. They learned to appreciate their animals, to treat them with care, and to administer to their needs when they were sick or hurting. From their fathers they learned firmness, responsibility, gentleness and kindness. From their mothers they learned to use their hands for service in their families and communities.
All three men depended on their hands to earn a living and to raise a family. Like their parents before them, these men used the skills they were taught to strengthen their children and give them hope for the future.
What a blessing to have hands that set an example of hard work, love, tenderness, service, and appreciation.
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- Work alongside and teach your child new skills until mastered. Instead of telling them, “Go clean your room,” go with them, work together, show them exactly what is expected, and repeat until they are clearly capable and confident.
- Increase the difficulty of the work in line with their age and growing abilities.
- Talk about why each thing they are doing is important and how doing it will help them and their family.
- After chores are done, reward their effort with time doing their choice of an activity together – set the amount of time and the type of activity ahead of time. This does not need to cost money or take a long time. It will help you bond more if the activity is interactive and rarely involves screen time. They will thrive with having your full attention being playful or just relaxing.