He had come home from a long hard day at work. That was the norm in those days. Men went to a job, often involving exhausting labor. Moms stayed at home and cared for the home and the children. Supper was put on the table when dad got home and everyone, including all of the children, gathered around the table for a meal together. Each child got to tell what had happened in their day, and laughter was plentiful.
Children did chores in those days, and those chores often included washing the dishes after the meal was over. This was most definitely before the dishwasher days. On this particular day, Dad and Mom had gone to the living room to relax a bit, and the children had begun the task of clearing the table and washing the dishes.
The peaceful relaxation that mom and dad were enjoying was interrupted by the sound of arguing which was coming from the kitchen. It got louder and louder until Dad decided to intervene.
He went into the kitchen (which immediately stopped the noise) and told the children to each get a kitchen chair and line them up facing the sink. The children were puzzled, but they did as they were told. The look on dad’s face conveyed that they had better not ask any questions! He then told them to have a seat in those chairs.
When the children were all seated, Dad proceeded to roll up the sleeves of his shirt, walk to the sink and begin washing the dishes himself. He made those children sit quietly as he did the work they were supposed to do.
Do you wonder what was going through their minds? “Why is he doing this?” “Great! I don’t have to wash the dishes tonight!” Or maybe, “I know Dad was tired tonight.” “I didn’t work all day.” “I feel terrible because Dad is doing my work.”
When he finished washing and drying the dishes, he looked at those children and slowly walked from the room without saying a word. He didn’t have to say anything…his point was made and his discipline was understood by these children. From that day forward those children never argued again when performing this chore.
I was told this story a few years ago by a wonderful Christian man who has gone on to his reward. He instilled in his children a work ethic like none I had ever seen before. He, as well as his children, were well up in years when I first came to know them. All of his children had a strong work ethic and the daughters I knew best were not complainers when hard work was required of them.
I just wonder if parents today who either have or do threaten without following through, yell out of frustration, or spank out of anger have ever considered a method like the one written about above?
Those children knew their father loved them, worked hard to provide for them, and was a disciplined man. For some reason, Jesus comes to my mind.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4 (emphasis added)