“In an agrarian society, kids realize their worth because parents really need them. Today with day-care, etc., they never realize how worthwhile they are.”–John D. Hannah, Distinguished Professor of Historical Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary

Some context for this quote: Dr. Hannah is not against day-care. He’s also not a proponent of child labor. He’s not saying that children only discover their worth through helping their parents. He’s definitely not saying that human “worth” is determined by ability or contribution.

So what is he saying?

Children derive a tremendous sense of belonging and identity by contributing in meaningful ways to the shared mission of family life.

We give each of our children child-specific chores that they own. The culture of our family praises each person’s unique contribution. Over the years, as these chores grow in difficulty and responsibility, (e.g., now we have a lawn-mower and a baby-sitter), that inner sense of “My work matters to this family–I’m making a very real difference” continues to grow as well.