Tough Questions: Why Do You Have To Work?

Parents magazine article


Hello! I’ve been out of town, visiting my mom for the past week while my husband was traveling for work. I had a relaxing week, with no dishes to wash or meals to cook. I tried to feel guilty about it, but couldn’t muster any. Since I had no looming responsibilities last week, I had ample time to get caught up on reading my magazines! Hence the inspiration for my blog post topic today, what do you say when your kid asks,

“Why do you have to work?”.

Tough Question: Why do you have to work?

I came across an article in Parents magazine about answering tough questions your kids throw at you. There was some really good, sound advice in there, I thought. But one piece in particular rubbed me the wrong way. When your child asks, “Why do you have to work?”, what do you say? The article stated that your child doesn’t ask the question because she genuinely wonders why you work, she asks the question because she wishes you could stay with her.

The answer you should give your child, so says a child development and behavior specialist, was that you enjoy your work, as well as the people you work with. Don’t tell your child you have to work in order to pay for food. That implies work is not something one can enjoy!

Um, hellooo? There’s a reason it’s called work! Some people are fortunate enough to love what they do. Others are not. But regardless of whether or not you enjoy your job, everyone needs a source of income to survive. Making your kid think work should always be fun is the perfect way to raise a kid who can’t hold a job when they grow up. They will quit as soon as they grow bored and move back into your house- now really, isn’t that the exact opposite of what we all want?? 😉

Plus, let’s talk about this- To defend the reason you work, why would you tell your kid you enjoy the people with whom you work? As true as that possibly may be, I believe that sends the message that you prefer your co-workers’ company over theirs. Even as an adult, I can see feeling second-rate if my husband told me he went to work because he enjoys the people he works with. I’d start asking why he married me if he preferred other people’s company to mine!

The answer to this question in Parents Magazine left me wondering if the child behavior and development specialist quoted had any children herself. Or how she would have felt if her mother had said those things to her.

I think it’s good to teach children about money and being responsible from an early age. I tell my girls that Daddy works hard to buy us food to eat, so we shouldn’t waste it. And he works hard to buy us things we like, so we should take care of our toys and other possessions. And my husband tells the girls at least weekly, that he has to work to make money to buy us things we need, but he wishes he could stay home and spend time  with us all day. And we all feel loved as a result. 🙂

Tell me, what do you think? Do you think “Parents Magazine” missed the mark on this one?


don't call me supermom


  1. I agree with you, telling your child what the child development expert said is setting them up for possibly failure. I would just be honest with my child and tell them I have to work to pay bills and put food on the table. If I happen to enjoy my job then I would include that too. I wonder if she has kids myself….hmmmm.

    1. Exactly! There isn’t anything wrong with kids knowing you have to pay for food and other necessities. Letting them know you enjoy your job is okay, too! I would just be careful of the wording….kids need to feel valued and secure in their parents esteem.

  2. I agree that their expert wasn’t really on target. We work to earn money, contribute to society, but we try to find jobs we love with people we enjoy. I want my daughter to realize we go to work because it is part of serving God, too. She can have a career and love being at home too.

  3. We told our kids the truth. We work to make house payment, car, food etc. When they were older and didn’t want to go to school on some days. We reminded them we would rather stay home BUT going to school to learn was their job at that time in their life. Somehow that worked with our kids.

  4. Totally missed the mark. We as a family always talk about how we wish Daddy did not have to work and how we could travel the world together. My husband and I are very hard working and we require our children to help out around the house and to dream big. My 13 year old goes to home shows with hubby and tells others about our window company. He studies brouchers and want to learn all there is to know about window. Our son enjoys talking to people but I think he enjoys the money he gets from doing it. The truth is you have to work in life to get anything. “I love this verse “There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty. ” Teaching my children about working diligently….

  5. I don’t have kids yet to experience that kind of situation but in future I will surely explain the way you have said and surely not the way that is said in the magazine. 🙂 Great to be co-hosting with you. #HomeMattersParty

  6. Oh wow, I totally don’t agree with that article. I think we need to teach our kids the responsibility of work and earning for the family. In today’s world of people thinking they can everything for free, shows that too many are reading that article and doing it! 😛 #HomeMattersParty

  7. I do believe in telling my kids the truth. They know that my husband and I work so that we can afford our current lifestyle. As a child, I watched my mother go to work and while I did miss her, I always admired her. She still is the hardest worker I know. I make tons of time for my kids and make them feel loved every moment I can. But I also show them how enthusiastic I am about my job. I LOVE what I do and I want them to know that hard work does pay off, education pays off! So fun to co-host with you! #HomeMattersParty

  8. I think your response is spot on. I thought the article’s advice was silly. It’s important to be honest with children. If they understand why you have to leave everyday, and it’s because you love them and want to provide for them, they will grow up to understand the value of hard work. Thanks for sharing this on the #HomeMattersParty

  9. You are so right, Rachel. It is important to ground our children in reality–you must earn money to survive, pay the bills and put food on the table. Raising a child with a good work ethic is way more important than allowing them the delusion that work is always fun.

    Life With Lorelai

  10. My 3 yr old is always asking this question. I just tell her the obvious. We have to work to help pay for food, clothes and our house. Thanks for linking up at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party.

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