Last month’s blog (take a quick read if you have not yet) was about how it is possible to start developing a stewardship culture in the next generation even at very young ages.

I shared three videos and offered a number of food-for-thought questions to answer after viewing them.

Here are the videos:

1 – The Farmhand (link to Facebook)

2 – The Warehouse Helper (link to TikTok)

3 – The Young Chef (link to Facebook)

I would like to respond now to the questions I posed to the reader in that post. The questions are repeated below, but now with my thoughts in italics. My responses are based on my 30 years of coaching parents from all socioeconomic backgrounds around raising kids, as well as my specialty coaching parents in the context of financial wealth.

  • Do these experiences develop character?

Yes! Very young kids are eager and excited to be given responsibility that would make the average 17-year-old cringe (particularly if the parents of this 17-year-old were not intentional). Being trusted to do big-person things gives confidence and a good feeling about contributing to the family. Yes, there will be challenges and mistakes. In the Farmhand video, the little helper mixes up left and right and then recovers with the support of her proud, patient, mentoring daddy surfing the back of the truck she is driving—beautiful! Being trusted, making mistakes, and recovering are all part of developing grit, resilience, and character.

  • What values are being instilled in these young people?

Hard work, pride in family and/or enterprise, self-sufficiency, independence, helping, cooperation, personal growth, responsibility, and work satisfaction.

  • How do you think these little ones are likely to be affected in terms of desire to contribute as a family member and in the world at large?

At these young ages, work and play are intertwined—it is all fun for them. My guess is that if these caretakers continue to nurture these little ones with opportunities and challenges like these, they will be excited and proud to work hard, grow the family’s assets, and steward them for generations beyond themselves, positively impacting their family and the world.

  • Are these young ones rolling their eyes like teenagers or enjoying themselves?

I set myself up with a softball here: there are no eye rolls to be found! They appear, at a minimum, to be experiencing a combination of happiness, laughter, excitement, and determination. Fun is easily integrated into the basic steps of stewardship development and character building.

  • Can you imagine their self-esteem is being affected by these experiences? If so, how?

They do not look tortured. In my experience, when parents give real responsibilities and challenges to little ones, they feel confident and great about themselves. A parent’s job is not to make life as easy as possible for their child, it is to make it the right amount of hard. The parents in these videos nail it.

  • Are these types of experiences beneficial to poor, working-class, and middle-class families? Is family wealth a special circumstance, and is there a heavier price to be paid when these families are not intentional at these young ages?

I coach and consult wealthy and uber-wealthy families and have worked with homeless families as well (and the full spectrum in between). What I say to wealthy families is that 90% of the parenting advice we will discuss is just as important for poor parents as it is for wealthy ones. The difference is that reality comes for poorer folks, while wealthy families can use their financial safety net to “support” in insidious and obvious ways which then undermines the provision of challenging experiences necessary to develop character and a stewardship mindset. Financial realities are more or less built in for poor, working- and middle-class families. The safety net can be and often is dangerous for wealthy families.

Remember: Any parent’s job is not to make life as easy as possible for kids, it is to make it the right amount of hard.