In a world full of doom and gloom, you may read all that I have said and say there is no hope for us and we are all doomed. Quite the contrary, our children today are an amazing group of kids. They have the information of the world at their fingertips. They can at the drop of a hat find any amount of information they need without thinking anything of it.
The other day I watched my friend’s 8 year old daughter find an answer to a question that the adults were pondering in a moment on her mobile device. All of us “old” people were amazed at her since of knowledge. To her it was no big deal.
Do you remember the hours we spent looking for names in a phone book or using the Dewey decimal card catalog to find a book. Those ideas are so archaic to our children. The world is changing at an astounding rate and believe it or not our children are equipped and ready to handle this.
Our number one job is not to slow the change but put some heart and character in it. Likely you are probably saying what the heck is he talking about. Our job is to take these amazingly gifted children and help them appreciate hard work and responsibility. Take all that they know and apply to make the world a better place.
The kids are ready to do this! They care about the world so much differently than we did.. They have their eyes set on lofty goals and they truly are children of the world instead of like most of us children of a city or county.
The opportunity for them is unlimited and with the right guidance we truly can make them a far better generation than we ever were,
So what do we do?
- Give them back self responsibility
- Teach them civics again at home
- Help them value the benefits of hard work
- Reintroduce Social Discourse
- Teach them to value where they come from
Let’s look at each of these steps one at a time.
Responsibility is something they have lost. It is a lost art not because of them but because of us. We are always there to sweep in and pick them up off of their feet. We need to let lose the reins a bit and let them wobble on their own.
Let them suffer the consequences for their own decisions and actions. This means helicopter parents we back off. Instead of saying to them when they do poorly on a test ‘those stupid teachers didn’t they teach you anything?’ we should ask probing questions like; How did the rest of the class do? Did you study? What areas did you do poorly on? Did you ask questions?
We need to become parent facilitators and guides instead of parachutes. Let them learn from the consequences of failure. This sounds easy on paper but everyone is so afraid of the cost of higher education that if their child gets a B it is the end of the world. Well maybe your child goes to Ohio State instead of Harvard is that really as bad as you make it sound?
Secondly we must teach them civics again. The schools have pretty much removed this from the curriculum so it falls on our shoes. Help them to understand that everything has a coast and a price. Simple things like how to budget and how to pay bills are truly important arts that the millennial generations do not understand.
Teach the role of government in our lives and help them understand self sufficiency over relying on someone else. Our goals should be to educate our children in what truly the American Dream means. Teach them why we pay taxes, where our tax dollar goes, why a budget is important. All of these things sometimes are more important than math and science.
I will give you a good example of this my oldest son is in the IT profession. He is a math savant and was incredible in science as well however he has no idea what it means to balance his checkbook. I am sorry this cannot be how these children grow up. Recently even though he is 23 I have begun to educate him on the finer things in life such as grocery shopping and bus riding.
Sounds simple enough for us but to him it was like speaking a foreign language. He is making great strides and I am learning that millennials are really never to old to start learning. They just need parents to teach them this.
Thirdly and maybe the area I have failed my own children the most is the value of hard work. It seems for my sons I have been such a helicopter parent that they had no clue what hard work was. I did not give them an allowance growing up and I did not assign them chores. HUGE mistake.
If your millennials are still in the impressionable stages in life start right away assign chores and attaching monetary values to them. Do not just give them a $25 week allowance make them earn it. The more work they do the more money they make, the less they do the less money they make. Pretty simple concept that we millennial parents have helped our children lose.
Even at a young age help them understand things are earned by work and not by guarantee. Help them appreciate every little thing they get. I know it sounds like a slave master however if you are like me I worked from the time I was 13 years old and I am still working today.
I appreciated how important it was to do a good job. I have owned ever car I have ever owned. My parents bought me none of them. Because of this my sense of value is different then my children.
Teach them the value that nothing is truly free. Everything comes from work and effort of someone to get us what we want and need in our lives.
Another massive error I made in raising my millennials was the art of civil discourse. I can give you all sorts of excuses like my ex wife and I were always so busy we could not have dinner together as a family however this is all hogwash. We should have made time every night at the dinner table as a family. We should have created a social media free zone. We should have assigned times they were allowed to be on the computers. Sadly we failed in every aspect.
The sadness in my heart comes from the fact that my boys and I struggle to talk face to face. My youngest always feels the need to argue and my oldest gives me one word answers. Unfortunately I have to text or email to get my points across. This is a very sad state of affairs and I hope I can help some young parent not make the same mistake.
Let me give you a case in point. We had a young girls in my school who could just not stay off of her phone. Her grades were faltering and we needed to have a parent meeting. We decided as a team that every morning when the girl would come to school she would drop her phone off in the office and at the end of the day she could pick it up.
This worked great for about three days until the girl began to bring two phones to school and leave one in the office and the other with her. There are a lot of things you cannot say to a parent when you are a teacher but believe me I wanted to ask how the heck did she get this other phone? Who the heck is paying for it? Of course the conversations with the parents quickly turned to how it was our fault she was struggling and she needs a phone in case of emergencies.
Ok I do not want to sound old but what did we do before cell phones in case of emergencies? Did emergencies just not happen when we were young? I do not recall my dad ever calling me at school and reminding me of anything. If my parents called the school one of two things were happening. Either I was in trouble or their was a real emergency. That pretty much it.
Force our technology driven children to speak to each other, have them write thank you notes to teachers instead of emails. Have them stay after and actually ask their teacher questions instead of emailing. You will be amazed at how quickly things improve just by opening up lines of communication. Teach them to work problems and conflicts out with other students face to face not over the blindness of the internet. The more we can accomplish this goal the sooner our nation will grow in the area of civil discourse.
Next teach them to value where they come from. I am not some ultra right wing Nationalist this is not what I am talking about. Help them appreciate their roots. Who are they where did they come from how did they get here. Questions they should be able to ask.
When they learn their heritage they also will learn something about personal responsibility. Explain to them grand pa was an immigrant or where a coal miner. It does not really matter where the roots come from but allowing the kids to understand the pathway taken by their forefathers helps them learn direction and where they are headed.
Help them understand the American Dream. I know this is likely a controversial topic to some because it seems like we are to be ashamed of being American. I think quite the opposite is true. We need to understand that in our country hard work does actually get you somewhere. I watch that poor young man who was just brought back from North Korea only to die from the abuse he suffered. It brings to mine how great a country we really live in.
It is an old saying but help them understand their is a price for freedom. Many many men and women have given their lives for us so that we can have a chance at living the American Dream. We cannot allow our youth to forget this.