By Mariel Uyquiengco
It is common in Southeast Asia for families to have live-in helpers who assist with housework. A lot of children are raised by nannies while parents are away at work. Our home assistants, whether we like it or not, are like an extended part of our family, sharing our personal space and responsibility around the house. Respecting household help is therefore one of the things that we should all observe and teach our children.
The basic definition of the word respect is treating others with care and courtesy. However, respect should go deeper than just having impeccable manners. Respect is about seeing each person’s worth and dignity, no matter what he does for a living or how much he makes.
Children follow what we do, and not really what we say. Teaching kids to respect our household help boils down to modeling and showing them that we ourselves respect our helpers.
So, what should our kids see in the way that we treat our assistants?
Some employers are prone to shouting at the hapless house help when certain instructions are not met. Don’t let your temper get ahead of you and try to stay calm amidst perceived irritants. In addition, physical violence is a big no-no like in any of our other relationships.
Give them proper meals
Food for “extra mouths” is pretty expensive, but if you serve very small meals or you dare give them spoiled food, then you do not deserve to have helpers. Household helpers are human beings who need healthy and adequate food to thrive. As their employer, it is your responsibility to make sure that they get square meals.
Other than providing them with well-balanced meals, however, not treating them like second-class citizens will go a long way in setting a good example for your children.
Mind your manners
Yes, you pay your house help’s salary, but it does not mean that you should let your manners slide. Mind your “please” and “thank you “when requesting for something to be done. These are obvious signs of respect that your kids need to see.
Good manners also involve acknowledging somebody’s presence. Ignoring your household helpers like they are invisible is rude and insulting.
Observe your country’s laws, and then some
Live-in household help are usually taken advantage of in terms of wages and work hours. Treat your household help fairly and follow your country’s laws at the minimum. Pay fair wages and observe proper work hours.
Though they mainly “just” do physical labor, they contribute a lot in keeping the wheels of your family’s life well oiled and smooth. They need their rest too.
Help in chores that you can help with
Having a household help does not mean you can sit the whole day and expect somebody else to straighten the house for you. Doing so will just show your kids that it’s okay to be lazy and to let other people pick up after them.
Our helpers make our lives easier and give us the ability to spend our time on things and activities that matter most to us. Respecting household help is par for the course, and the easiest way to teach our children how to do it is by setting good examples for them to follow.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.