Teach your Children to be Like Ants
Take a lesson from the ants… Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter’. While the queen ant is the centre of attention and the mother of most of the ants in the colony, she’s not the chief ruler. The work and survival of the colony is insured by ‘soldier’ ants. These servant-leaders are older ants that begin each new activity in the colony by doing the work themselves. The younger ants then imitate the servant-leaders and join in the work. There are no supervisors, chiefs, or officers amongst the ants.
The ants ‘have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work’. It means the ant is a self-starter. When you see an ant carrying a piece of bread several times larger than himself up a steep slope, it’s a study in diligence! No matter how many times he drops the bread, he goes back and picks it up, and starts climbing again until he gets it to where it’s supposed to go.
The ant never sees work as menial or beneath his dignity. Whether it’s moving dirt or carrying breadcrumbs, he merrily goes along doing his job. How unlike that are many people today! Someone has quipped, ‘If you want to keep your teenagers out of hot water, put some dirty dishes in it!’
Teach your children the old-fashioned way of getting money – working for it! The word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin word vocare, which means ‘to call’. So every job or vocation, regardless of what it is, is a calling. Dr Martin Luther King Jr rightly declared, ‘Not all men are called to specialised or professional jobs; even fewer to the heights of genius in the arts and sciences; many are called to be labourers in factories, fields, and streets. But no work is insignificant.’
As a parent you are preparing your child for their work life, so prepare them well. If you don’t, they’ll have a life of grief, and create a life of grief for others. Plus, they may end up back on your doorstep! Bosses don’t pay workers who don’t work. So before you give your child an allowance, give them some chores like making their bed, cleaning their room, helping around the house, taking out the rubbish, getting good grades in school, and doing their homework on time. Reward without responsibility is indulgence. And if you love your child you won’t do that!
A leaf-cutting ant may carry up to fifty times its own weight more than a hundred yards. That’s the equivalent of a ninety kilogram man carrying five tons on his back for twenty-seven kilometres! In a single summer, a large colony of ants may excavate thirty to forty thousand pounds of earth to make a nest, and carry five thousand pounds of material back into the nest for food. It can make as many as four round trips a day to food sources that may be more than four hundred feet from the nest. That’s roughly equivalent to a person walking one-hundred kilometres. If the ant had the stride of a man, it would be capable of bursts of speed in excess of one-hundred kilometres an hour, and would walk normally at a speed of thirty-two kilometres per hour. (And you think you have it rough!)
One thing about an ant you can count on: he always gives his best and pulls his share of the load. Teach your kids that their reputation will never rise above their work ethic and how people view them as workers. The success of the Walt Disney empire is based on the philosophy of its founder: ‘Whatever you do, do it so well that when people see you do it, they’ll want to come back and see you do it, and they’ll want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.’
Teach your children to work hard, always finish the job, and always give their best. If they learn that lesson well, you won’t have to teach them much about success – it will be their constant companion.