Portrait of Greg Baer

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Finding a Screw

We have to persist in loving and teaching our children and persistently nudge them forward. And as a result, they learn something about responsibility and confidence that otherwise would not have occurred. They establish a pattern for happiness.


00:00 Father and mother came from unloving families but mother determined to learn how to love.

01:02 Son given the task of cutting down a tree in the yard and quits at the first problem.

01:56 Not caring to learn is a huge problem.

02:56 Mother encourages son to use the internet to fix the problem.

05:19 Mother follows up 2 days later, encourages him to find the solution to a new problem.

07:44 Dad predictably gives up when helping him find the screw he needs.

10:36 Mom doesn't rescue the child and encourages him to continue.

11:38 Parents need to love a child enough to teach him how to learn what he needs to know.


Mother Persists in Teaching Son Responsibility

I know a father who is minimally involved in the lives of his children. He’s been taught the principles of Real Love—mostly half listening—but he has no sense of compassion for human beings. He was raised by parents who never showed him any kind of love, so he never learned how to care about anybody.

This father’s wife hadn’t been loved either, but somehow she made a commitment to learning how to love and teach her children.

Their 12-year-old son Brett, was given a job to cut down a tree in the yard and cut it up into limbs that could be hauled away by the county. He went to his dad and said the saw wasn’t working. Dad said he had no idea what to do. Why? Because Dad didn’t CARE to learn how to help his son become a responsible and confident child.

So Brett gave up. But Mom noticed that the tree was still there, so she asked Brett why the tree job wasn’t done.

“The saw doesn’t work,” Brett said.

“Really?” Mom asked. “Does the engine work? Does it make the usual engine noises?”


“Show me,” Mom said

The engine fired up, the chain moved, but it didn’t cut wood at all. In fact, the faster the chain moved, the more smoke came from the wood. Not a good sign.

Mom said, “You use the Internet to learn all kinds of things. What could you look up that might give you an idea what’s happening here?”

“Chainsaw not working?” Brett said tentatively.

“Sure,” Mom said. “Try that.”

Mother Encourages Her Son to Persist in His Chore

Brett tried some searches and found a list titled, “Most common reasons that a chain saw isn’t cutting.” He showed her the list and pointed out that one reason that stood out was that the chain of the saw might be dull. It turns out that a chain is like a knife. It has to be sharpened from time to time, and as far as the boy knew, it had never been sharpened.

Brett rode his bike to hardware store and asked for a round file, just like the Internet article described.

“What size?” asked the clerk.

Brett didn’t know, so he gave up—again.

A couple of days later Mom saw that the tree still wasn’t cut up, so she asked Brett whether he had sharpened the saw blades.

“No,” he said. “I didn’t know the size for the file.”

Mom suggested that Brett Google the brand of the saw, and the model number, and said that he might find the proper size for a round file for sharpening that particular blade. Brett looked, and there was the right size.

Brett biked back to the hardware store, got the right file, used YouTube to learn how to sharpen the chain, and did what the video instructed. The chainsaw suddenly and miraculously cut the tree like butter.

More Persisting in Encouraging Him to Solve the New Problem

Then a new problem occurred. The bar that holds the chain would not stay on the engine. There were two screws that held the chain bar in place, and one was missing.

The boy asked his father to take him to the hardware store. He was tired of riding his bike there—quite some distance. After five minutes looking for the screw—which had to be exactly the right length, diameter, threads per inch, and hardness of steel—Dad predictably gave up and took Brett home.

Brett again had a saw that didn’t work, an assignment to complete, and a father who didn’t care enough about his own son to either find the screw or learn anything else that might help. Brett learned from his father that if a task is difficult, you just give up.

This project was not complicated. If you go on the Internet, you can find the brand of saw, the model number, and then an exploded diagram of all the parts, so that you can find exactly the needed screw. PLUS there were two screws on the saw, so Brett already had one copy of the screw in his hand.

The store was five mins away from home by car. Mom told Brett to take the screw in a plastic bag in his pants pocket, so it wouldn’t get lost, and to show the hardware guy what he needed, along with all the specifications he had found in the manual on the Internet.

When they got to the hardware store, Mom just followed Brett around. At one point he just didn’t know what to do next, so he plopped on the floor, apparently giving up again. He looked at Mom and asked, with some attitude: “Are you just going to stand there?”

Mom didn’t react to the attitude, and instead she said, “Yes, I suppose so. I got you here. I had you look up the screw in the manual you found on the Internet. And I told you to bring the other screw, to make sure you got the right one. Seems like I’ve done a lot already. The rest is up to you.”

Bless this mother. She didn’t drop the ball when Brett tried to blame the saw for not doing the tree job. She didn’t rescue him in the store. She helped him a lot, but then she knew that he had to go over the finish line under his own power.

Brett kept looking, and he found some screws similar to the one he wanted. He looked through dozens of them, and finally, Bingo! he had the right screw. When he got home, he put the screw where it belonged, the chainsaw worked properly, and now the job is done.

Persist in Teaching and Loving, Not Rescuing our Children

We must learn to love our kids. Without that, they’re doomed from the beginning. But we also have to teach them how to FEEL loved, and how to be loving, and how to be responsible. 

If we’re just learning how to do all this now—after years of not knowing how to love and teach—that means that our kids will be lost to some degree. They’ll resist this “new way” you’re trying, the way that requires more of them. They’re used to you rescuing them or just letting things go that need to be done.

We have to persist, like this mother did. She loved Brett, and taught him, and persistently nudged him forward. And as a result he learned something about responsibility and confidence that otherwise would not have occurred.

Finding a screw might seem like a small thing, but it becomes part of establishing a pattern that allows for a lifetime of happiness.

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