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Passing On the Value of Work Ethic

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

As grandparents, one of the greatest things we can pass along to our Grands is the value of a strong work ethic. If we’ve done our jobs well, their parents are already teaching and modeling this for the Grands, but we can reinforce the importance of this life lesson, too. Let’s talk about passing on the value of work ethic even after you retire.

I kept my first timesheet when I was in grade school. My parents believed in teaching us how to work and earn a living. The lessons started young as my sisters and I helped with various family projects. At the time, my parents owned apartment buildings. We helped clean, remodel, and do other maintenance projects. We kept track of our time and every couple of weeks got paid. It was good for us. My sisters and I learned the responsibility of property ownership, the efforts required to take care of real estate, and the rewards of working hard.

What is the long-term effect of teaching young family members the value of a work ethic? In doing so, we give them the confidence, skills, and fortitude to function well as adults. This is incredibly valuable! Sadly, it’s not a lesson everyone is learning in our time.

Look around the culture of today and you’ll surely see the problems caused by numbers of people who have not learned how to work and be self-sufficient. Instead of being self-reliant, they are too frequently dependent on others, maybe even entitled. What happens when those they rely on cannot provide? What about when we reach an economic tipping point of demand for support not being equaled by the input of dollars, goods, or services?

Ideas for Teaching Work Ethic

Grandparents have the unique perspectives of many decades of living. We’ve seen how different lifestyles play out over time. We can take stock of those experiences and create some activities and conversations to help guide our Grands into productive adulthood.

Here’s a couple of quick ideas:

Work Ethic Idea #1, Explain your career or work path to your grandchildren.

Explain your career or work path to your grandchildren. Spend time talking about what you like and don’t like. Discuss how your work has allowed you to do things like own your home, travel, or participate in hobbies. If you’re still working, take your Grands to your workplace and explain in more detail.

Work Ethic Idea #2, Find a work project around your home,…

Find a work project around your home, ask your Grands to help, then pay them. This is an especially good idea when you’re retired. When they arrive, have a timesheet and any required tools or safety equipment ready to go. Show them how to do the work. Sometimes we forget that skills we take for granted are not born into us, they must be taught. Work together with your Grands. Even some of the grimiest, unpleasant household chores can be fun when we’re working with someone we love. Not only are the young ones learning by doing, but they see your efforts. Show, don’t just tell!

One of the great side benefits I’ve found when working with children or grandchildren is the opportunity for conversation. There’s something about working together that opens up genuine communication. Don’t be surprised if interesting questions are asked while working together. When a young family member opens up, embrace the trust and answer thoughtfully. Young people today are facing a different world than we experienced growing up. I believe there are differences that create pressures we didn’t face at young ages. Here is a time we can share wisdom and maybe ease some of the strain of current times by becoming a trusted confidante and friend to our Grands.

Hard work pays off no matter our age. Be a part of teaching your Grands the value of a strong work ethic. Reinforce lessons and values shared by your children. Reward young workers and encourage them to dream big and have the courage to work to achieve their dreams.

Let us know in the comments, your ideas for passing on the value of work ethic to your Grands!

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