Virtually all kids go through a phase where they question the value of what they’re learning in school. Some resist anything they don’t immediately consider fun. So moms and dads may have a difficult time convincing an eight year old that learning history or mathematics is a necessary skill for life.
Most parents also know that, as a rule, a child’s education is directly related to the jobs the child may qualify for later in life. Asking a twenty-five year old whether they would rather be earning $65,000 or $25,000 a year is pretty predictable. However, asking an eight year old boy the same question may not bring the desired response. His values in life are avoiding work, avoiding girls and playing sports and video games - not necessarily in that order.
We encourage our kids to study by telling them that they’ll have many more life choices and possibly better job choices if they are well educated. But also be prepared for them to say, “So what?” You might counter thrust with, “Well, it will be easier for you to feed, clothe, house, and care for your family if you have more money to spend on those things.” And they block with, “So what? Yuck, I don’t want to be married!” After unsuccessful arguments the parents may have to resort to the old tried and true, “because I said so.”
The point is, eight year olds are motivated to achieve things they care about NOW. And, unfortunately, by the time they decide to care, it may be too late to make up for what they missed.
Now let’s talk about the rest of us. Many people later in life wish they were in a good, happy marriage. Many people wish their children and grandchildren were faithful Christians.
Many people wish they had better paying job skills. Many people wish they did not have emphysema or lung cancer. Many people wish they had studied harder in school or gone to college when they had the chance. Many will wish they had made some very different choices a long time ago.
Some of the most important decisions of life have to be made when we are too young to have life experiences. Which places even more value on this: “Remember your creator in the days of your youth” (Ecl. 12:1). And be thankful if you had good parents!
- Tim Orbison