Don’t push them into the shop!

by Robert
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Usually I save this conversation for closer to Father’s Day, but recently I’ve been feeling like I need to bring it up sooner than later.

A frequent question I’ve received over the years, and a topic I see come up all the time in forums and on social media, is fellow woodworkers asking how they can get their kids as passionate about woodworking as they are?

For the record, when Madison and Aiden were very young and the woodworking bug first bit me, I dreamed of the day when they’d be old enough to join me in the shop for hours of building and sharing a common passion in woodworking. But as the kids started getting older I quickly realized they had next to zero desire to join me in the shop.

kids sneaking out of woodshop

It’s okay if they want to be elsewhere…

I’ll admit this kind of broke my heart at first, but rather than getting frustrated and constantly trying to cajole them into the shop, I just accepted the fact and moved on. You see, when I was growing up it wasn’t my dad who was the woodworker (honestly he could barely hang a picture frame at times,) instead it was my grandfather.

For myself, time in the woodshop as a kid was spent standing alongside him watching as he repaired furniture they picked up while antiquing or making simple, rudimentary pieces for around the farm he owned.

And while he did build the occasional stool or bookcase, most of his woodworking was limited to cutting out the shape of a pine wood derby car for me when I was in Cub Scouts or a simple box to carry my Star Wars action figures home in when I came to visit.

Aside from holding the occasional tool and handing it too him when he needed it, I was never his apprentice in anyway. In fact, I would consider myself more of a side-kick, or partner-in-crime considering some of the junk-food we snuck into the shop or tricks we hatched in there to pull on my grandmother.

Time for me in the shop as a kid wasn’t about learning a trade, or learning to handle a tool like a seasoned pro. Instead, time in the shop simply meant I got to hangout with someone I loved.

It’s now almost two decades since my flame for woodworking was first ignited, and while I can’t imagine NOT doing it in some form or another, I do remember a time in my life (coincidentally the same period both my kids are in right now) when my hobbies and passions were so far removed from anything to do with woodworking that I almost don’t recognize myself.

So what I’m really trying to say is if you’re really truly hell-bent on making your kids love woodworking like you love woodworking, by forcing them into the shop to work on projects, you’re more than likely setting yourself up for failure.

In all likeliness they might possibly learn to “like” it at best or even become “somewhat proficient”, but more than likely they’ll never carry the same flame of passion for it that you do, and maybe even come to resent it.

As one parent to another, do us all a favor and let your kids discover for themselves if woodworking (or any other hobby) is right for them.

They may show an interest at first, but if it fades away it’s not the end of the world. if they’re anything like me and countless others it’ll come back when they’re older, and really interested more-than-ever, to spend time with you.

And one last thing, as a dad, never refer to spending time alone with your kids as “baby-sitting” that just shows you have actually have very little interest in being their parent and instead see it as a job.

Not being sponsored (or endorsing) the cereal, I just like the message! #howtodad

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