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The Lessons of Life

Different people going through the same experiences in life will
each learn different lessons.

For instance, my dad was grown when the stock market crashed in
1929 and he made it through the dust bowl years as a farmer.
I guess the main lesson he learned from all this can be summed
up in one word: frugality. He always taught me to be saving with
my money, not to go into debt for anything that wasn't an absolute
necessity and to do without until you could afford to pay cash
for what you wanted.

I know of others just a little younger than myself whose parents were
in their teens or pre-teens during the depression who had to go to
work after school and in the summer, or maybe miss some school
altogether, in order to help their parents get by. After these young
people reached adulthood, got a good job and had families of their
own, I have overheard many of them make the statement: "My child
is not going to have to work like I did when I was growing up. Whatever
he wants, he is going to get, he's not going to have to do
without like I did."

Where did he think that he learned the work ethic to be able to hold a job?

He learned it from that work in his youth. I'm not advocating that young
people should have to go to work to help the family, but I do think that
they should have responsibilities around home and be given regular
chores to do to earn an allowance, thus teaching them that they do not
get their money gratis.

Dad always taught me that hard work, and learning to do without, will
temper a person. To understand what this means consider a steel
plowshare. One that has not been tempered is brittle and will break
easily whenever it encounters a rock or root in the ground. However,
a piece of well tempered steel is strong and hard and will be able to
push the rock aside or to cut right through the root.

The same thing holds true for a person. A person who has been
tempered to hard work in his youth and taught what it is like to have
to do without some things will be better prepared to meet the
challenges of adulthood than someone who has never had to work
and has been given everything he wanted.

The youth need to be taught responsibility and be held accountable
for their actions. This cannot be done at school, it has to
start at home.

John Watson


John writes a weekly column for his hometown newspaper.
You may read some of his articles at:
Or you may contact John direct at:


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