A. S. Makarenko Reference Archive

Lectures to Parents

Lecture 5

Every family has its economy. In distinction from bourgeois society, our family has only a work economy which can not have exploitation of people as its aim. This economy may grow and increase not because some member of the family receives profits but only as a result of increased wages for some one in the family and by family economies....0ur economy consists only of things for individual use, means of production can not be included since these, in our country, belong to all society....

Naturally, every family tries to improve its standard of living, but this we can do not by plundering exploitation of other people but only by labor participation of members of the family in the general life and work of the whole Soviet people. Riches in our family do not depend as much on the strength of the family as on the successes of the entire country, on its victories on the economic and cultural front.

Every child, as member of a family, is to a degree a participant in the Soviet economy. Our children must, therefore, be brought up to be not only participants in the family economy but to be working citizens....Everyone will take part in the governmental economy and the better prepared a person is for this, the more useful it will be for all Soviet society and for himself....

Family economy is a fertile field for developing the dualities needed for a good working citizen and manager....


In simple terms, collectivism means the solidarity of man with society. Individualism is the opposite of collectivism. In some families, because of lack of attention to this question, children are brought up to be individualists. If a child from earliest childhood does not know where the family means come from, if he is to satisfy only his needs and does not notice the needs of other members of the family, if he fails to relate his family to all Soviet society, if he grows up greedy, demanding - then he has been brought up an individualist. This may be harmful to him and to society.....The child should know as young as possible where his parents work..., what they do, what they produce, and what u their product is to society. They should meet the parents' coworkers and hear about their work too......

It should be explained that the money parents bring home is not only something pleasant to spend, but something that has been earned by much socially useful work....

As the child grows up, they should tell him about projects in other parts of the country....If possible, the child should be shown the factory, the process of production should be explained.

If the mother does not work in industry or some institution, but as a housewife, the child must know about her work, respect it and understand that this kind of work too requires strength and effort.

Even a very young child should know about the family budget. He should know how much his parents earn and be involved in family discussions of finances...When the question of purchasing items of general use, such as a piano or radio are under consideration, he should be involved.....

If the family is well-off the child must be taught to understand that wealth is no reason for boasting....When there is a surplus, money should be spent not to satisfy the desires of the child alone but for the whole family. Better to buy books instead of an extra suit!

If the family is, for various reasons, having a hard time financially, one must see that the child does not envy other families. He should understand there is more to be proud of in the immediate struggle to improve living conditions than in having superfluous kopeks. In such a family one must develop the child's patience and ability to look forward toward the better future which is being prepared in our land, and the ability to share joyfully with his friends. Parents should never complain or whine in the child's presence but be cheerful and emphasize the bright side of things as they try to increase their earnings and so improve the family situation. Every improvement should be emphasized and pointed out.....


Honesty does not fall from heaven! It has to be developed. Dishonesty can also be developed in the family, it all depends on correct parental methods. What is honesty? It is an open, sincere attitude. Dishonesty is secret,...If the child asks for an apple, this is honest. If the desire is secret and he tries to take it without being seen - that is dishonest. If mother gives the child an apple and keeps it secret from the other children... she is developing a secretive attitude - consequently, dishonesty.

From earliest years, parents must teach children not to take anything without asking, even if it is in plain sight...Very precious things should not be hidden but the child should learn to treat them carefully....(This means that the family must be orderly)....

If the child has been sent to shop, ask for the change, check with him....Do this until the time when he has worked out strict rules of honesty. This checking must be done very tactfully so that the child will not think that he is somehow suspected.


...A good manager must learn to notice ahead of time what needs to be replaced or repaired, must learn to buy only what is really necessary, not buy casually what he sees in the stores or someone's home....Not all care is good....0ur kind of care must be relaxed...the ability to choose what is needed...to look ahead. It must not be like greed. The child should display this care more in relation to other members of the family than to himself and especially in relation to things of general family use. In this care there is an important beginning of planning, foreseeing. Parents should teach their children to plan...from time to time, they should discuss various needs of the family and work out a plan for satisfying them.


This is one aspect of care. Care is manifested in the ideas and thoughts of man, thrift is manifested in his habits. One may be a very careful manager, yet have no habits of thrift. Such habits must be developed early. Even a young child should know how to eat without soiling the tablecloth or his clothes, know how to use things without spoiling or breaking them...This thrift must be applied not only to family things but those of others and especially to objects of general use. Never allow the child to be careless with things on the street, in the park, in the theater.


Responsibility consists not only in the fact that a person fears punishment, but just in the fact that, without punishment, he feels uncomfortable if he spoils or destroys something. This is the kind of responsibility we must develop in the Soviet citizen and this is exactly why it is not necessary to punish a child or threaten punishment for spoiling things, but necessary that the child see for himself the harm he did by carelessness and that he be sorry for it. It is necessary, of course, to tell the child about it, to explain the result of his carelessness. But it will be most useful if the child feels the results through his own experience. If the child breaks a toy, for example, do not hurry to buy a new one and do not throw it away. Let it be in sight and in need of repair for some time. Father or mother should discuss the repair of the toy so that the child will see that he has given trouble to his parents and that they are more careful with his toys than he is....If there is a correct collective tone in the family, it will not be hard to develop a feeling of responsibility in the child.

Ability to Orient Oneself

...What is this ability? It consists in knowing how to see and to understand all the details in a given situation. If a man is doing something, he must not forget that behind him are on the other side of him are people who are also busy. It is not possible to orient oneself if the person is only accustomed to see what is before his eyes and not to see or feel what is being accomplished around him...When doing one task, the child must not forget all his other business and the people around him.....To develop this ability, it is useful to give the child not only one order but two or three, to give combinations of directions....This ability is developed by continual exercises in housekeeping chores, in knowing all the details and aspects of housekeeping.

Organizational Ability

This is needed to carry out long-term jobs in the family... Even seven year olds, often even younger children, should be given very long-term tasks, for example watering the flowers, keeping the books in order, feeding the cat, looking after younger brother. The matter of spending money is very important....Every family should give the child some independence in spending money for the satisfaction of his own and, in some cases, the family needs. Once or twice a month he should be given a definite sum of money with exact indication of what it should be spent for. The list of such expenditures should depend on the age of the child...For a boy of 14, for example, the list might consist of buying notebooks, carfare, buying soap and toothpowder for the family, money for movies for himself and his younger brother. The older the child the more complicated the list.

One must see that the boy or girl carries out the task, not misuing or wasting money for pleasure and not for the business assigned....Sometimes the child does not take his responsibility seriously enough...Then simply talk with him, call attention to his mistake and advise him to correct it. In any case, do not bore the child with continual checking...even more with continual suspicion.

Every parent can find many varied exercises for training his children to be good managers...The family economy should be organized collectively, quietly, and in a disciplined manner so that there will be no unnecessary tension or whining and so that there will be a cheerful, friendly striving to better the life of the family.

So the family economy is the place to develop: collectivism, (i.e., real solidarity with the work and interest of other people, with the interest of society as a whole); honesty (i.e., an open sincere attitude toward people and things); care and thrift, responsibility, the ability to organize and to orient oneself. The family economy must be the economy of a collective and be handled quietly, without tension.