I came across this story on Facebook a while ago so I cannot take credit for it. I have no idea if it is true, but the message is, so I’m passing it along with a few edits of my own.
A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company. He passed the initial interview and then met the director for the final interview. The director saw his resume, it was excellent and asked, “Did you receive a scholarship for school?” The boy replied, “No, my father paid for my education.” “Where does your father work?” “My father is a carpenter.”
The director asked the young man to show him his hands. The young man showed a pair of hands soft and perfect. The director quizzed, “Have you ever helped your father at his job?” “Never; my parents always wanted me to study and read more books. Besides, he can do the job better than I can.” “Did you hold any kind of job while going to school or contribute financially to your education?” The young man replied, “Not really. Like I said, my parents wanted me to study and get good grades so I could graduate with a degree.”
The director said, “I have got a request: When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father and then come see me tomorrow morning.” The young man thought this an odd request, but felt his chance of getting the job was high and worth complying with the director’s request.
When he returned home he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands. His father felt strange, happy, but with mixed feelings extended his hands to his son. It was the first time he noticed his father’s hands were wrinkled and scarred. Some bruises were so painful that his skin shuddered when he touched them. The young man gently and carefully washed his father’s hands.
He had never given much thought to how his father’s scarred and bruised hands provided him everything he needed growing up and gave him the opportunity for an education so he would not have to be a carpenter. The bruises on the hands were the price his dad paid so his son could have a brighter future and more success than he had; so his son would not have to work as hard and sacrifice as much. After cleaning his father’s hands the young man stood in silence for a moment, then joined his dad in tidying and cleaning up the workshop. That night, father and son talked and shared for a long time.
The next morning, the young man went to the office of the director. The director noticed the tears in the eyes of the young man when He asked him, “Were you able to fulfill my request and, if so, what did you learn?” The boy replied, “I washed my father’s hands and when I finished I stayed and cleaned his workshop. Now I understand, appreciate, and recognize that without my parents, I would not be who I am today. I now realize how difficult it is to do something on my own without other’s help. I have come to appreciate the importance and value of being part of a family, not just a taker and user, but a contributor to helping the family. Growing up I never appreciated how much my parents gave up so that I could have everything.”
The director said, “This is what I look for in my people. I want to hire someone who appreciates the help of others, a person who understands that every time someone helps you they are giving up some part of themselves. I want people who are willing to sacrifice themselves to help others, and a person who does not make money their only goal in life; who does not put money above people and relationships. I think you have learned that lesson and you are the person we will add to our team.”
A child that has been coddled, protected, and given whatever he or she wants, develops an entitlement mentality, an “I have the right” attitude and will always put her or himself first, minimizing everyone else’s efforts. Are protective parents really showing love or are they damaging their children? You can give your child a big house, good food, computer classes, access to the big screen TV; but when you’re washing the floor or painting a wall, please let them experience that too. After dinner have them wash the dishes with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you cannot afford to hire someone to do this, it’s because you want to love them the right way. No matter how rich you are, you want your children to understand that work is valuable, especially when preformed with others. The most important thing children can learn is to appreciate the effort required and to experience the difficulties associated with accomplishing a job well done, and learn how to work with others to get things done.
My Comments: One problem with wealth is that it can dull your senses and sensitivities, and your children will inherit those traits from you. Your senses in that you will make bad decisions when money is no object. You will buy things you do not need, to impress people who do not really care about you. It dulls your sensitivities to what your children and relationships really need to help them be independent, self-sustaining, and successful. More importantly, it can dull your sensitivities to the love they need from you. Time equals love. Giving them your time sends the message to your children that they are important to you. They are worth your time. Don’t fall into the “quality time” myth. Your kids don’t want five minutes of “quality time.” They want lots of your undivided attention and they don’t give time spent with you a grade. They want, and need, quantity, not quality. They would rather have you than your money.
When coaching families, we unfortunately see all too often that the adult children are immature and irresponsible because they didn’t get the loving discipline they needed growing up. It was easier to give into whatever they wanted and let the TV, computer, and video games entertain them than for dad to spend time throwing the football or baseball with his sons, or mom having a daughter help cook a meal and set the table. For that fact, does the family even eat dinner together? If not, big mistake! In the story the writer mentioned the siblings washing dishes together. What about mom and the kids washing the dishes together and having some bonding time? Dad may not be a carpenter, but there are tasks and activities around the house dad and the kids can do together. My point is, creativity and energy are required to find and create ways to spend time together. Sure, it is a lot easier to write checks and buy things. Stop trying to buy your children’s love. What you will get is indifference and ungratefulness, and produce unproductive, entitled adults. Teach them discipline and the wisdom and value of work and you will earn their respect and love. “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.” (Proverb)
If you would like to find out more about investing, business planning, business and family progression planning, inter-generational wealth transfer, legacy creation, family coaching, family office services, and all the ways you and your children can give, and how effective philanthropy can positively impact your family, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.familywealthleadership.comm. Telephone: 949-468-2000