Teaching Diligence to Boys
Hal often says that boys seem especially tempted by anger, lust, and laziness. And if you think about it, it makes sense–those sins are connected to some of the most important roles men have as protectors, husbands, and providers.
So, how can you overcome their natural laziness? How can you help your son become diligent? Sometimes it seems impossible! Been there, folks. It’s not impossible, though. It just takes awhile. Here are some of the things we’ve done that have helped.
Make it about the mission. Boys often don’t care whether their surroundings are clean or not, so the motivation has to go beyond that. Explain to him how his contribution is helping the family, like this, “Hey son, thanks for rotating the dishwasher. When you handle things like that, it frees me to do other things. I was just on the phone helping a new homeschooling mom. You know, that was partly your ministry, too. You made me able to do it.”
Work alongside them. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed when we look at a room that’s a mess. It shouldn’t surprise us if our sons feel the same way. Where do we even start? Help your boys get over this by jumping in there with them and working alongside them. Your example and help make a huge difference.
Time them. Boys are really distractible at certain ages. The little bit of stress added by the timer can keep them on task. “See how much you can do in ten minutes!”
Praise them. Boys, like the men they will become, crave respect. You want your son to be diligent? Praise the slightest sign of it you see. “You did you math 3 minutes faster than yesterday! Good work! That’s diligence, there.”
Let them practice being providers. When your guys want to buy something for the family, let them! This was a hard lesson for Melanie. Click here to read about it… and read about the effect it had on one of our sons in his own words here.
Share the family finances. This is radical because most of us feel pretty private about money (and, of course, you have to explain this is not something you talk about outside the family!), but sharing the financial situation with your children with age-appropriate details will help them make the connection that they are going to have to work hard to provide for their family one day.
Bring them into the family business. Or start one. Or encourage them to start one. There’s really no better way to teach diligence than to work in your own (your family’s is your own!) business. The connection between work and reward becomes crystal clear. It’s been amazing to us what our boys have brought to our business, too. The suggestions they’ve made have been fantastic. One of our guys said in a family business meeting, “Mom and Dad, when you are counseling parents at our booth, their boys are bored to tears and try to drag them away. We need something to keep them here!” He found the amazing wooden swords and rubber band guns (and rubber band machine guns, too) that so many of you have bought at our booth. In one fell swoop, he increased ministry opportunities, exposed us to new people (as boys now drag their parents to our booth), and increased revenue. What a blessing! Our guys also have their own businesses: web development, cover design, video production, marketing, typesetting, even grain mills and bow ties (under development).
Teaching our boys to be diligent will bless them the rest of their lives. A diligent man can make his way despite all kinds of obstacles! Just take it step by step in all the little things and he’ll get there. Really!
Hal & Melanie Young