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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Time to Pay the Barber

As I write this blog, I have just finished a great trip to New Mexico training child service professionals (mostly teachers) for the University of Nebraska. Tomorrow I fly to Alabama for three days of training there with Nebraska also.

Here’s a piece that came from a memory that popped into my head while traveling between Albuquerque and Las Cruces this past week.Jim and his bike

James Sutton, Psychologist


When I was a kid, parents didn’t fret over their children’s safety like today. There wasn’t much risk and violence, and neighbors looked in on each other and watched each other’s kids. That’s why, as an elementary student, my parents let me ride my bike down to the barber shop after school whenever it was time for a haircut. (I could have gotten a ride, but what good’s a new three-speed English racer if you don’t use it.)

One day after getting my hair cut, I walked into the kitchen and “tested” some of the supper that was still cooking. Walking away from the stove, I put my hands in my pockets.

 “Oh, no!” I gasped. I still had the quarter and half dollar Dad had given me that morning for the haircut. I had walked out of the barber shop without paying the man his 75 cents. I told my father about the mistake.

He wasn’t upset with me, but he walked straight to the phone and called the barber. He explained that we would be coming by his home after supper to pay him for the haircut.

“Oh, Jimmy can pay that to me tomorrow or the next day, Fred,” the barber shared with my father. “I know he’s good for it,” he laughed over the phone. “There’s no need for a special trip.”

“I appreciate that, Mike, but we’ll be by your house after supper, just the same.”

And that’s what we did. I paid the man his 75 cents that night.

It wasn’t the amount that my father cared about; it was the responsibility to take care of an obligation. I never forgot that lesson, thanks to him. My wife and I have tried to instill that ethic into our two children, and now four grandkids. (Well, THREE grandkids for now. The newest one is only four months old.)

There’s a biblical passage that mentions that a good workman is worthy of his (or her) hire. If we’ve done good work, we deserve to be paid. If someone has done good work for us, they deserve to be paid … no excuses.

But the days of 75-cent haircuts are GONE!


February 3, 2007 - Posted by | Counselors, Educators, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem


  1. That’s a simple story with profound implications. It’s all those little things that you haven’t done, all the little debts you owe, that feel weighty, sludgy, unable to enjoy and be in the moment. Unable to fully engage in conversations. Unwilling to make new committments, since you don’t trust yourself to keep the ones already made.


    Comment by naturalhigh | February 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. Your father was a wise man and a great teacher. These lessons are so important in the rearing of a child. Thank-you for sharing this lesson.


    Comment by tobeme | February 5, 2007 | Reply

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