Why Today’s Parents Have No Business Giving Their Kids Advice
Posted on February 27, 2015
*This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
The world isn’t what it used to be.
Prior to Generation X you could get and maintain a well-paying job and stay there for 20-40 years. Those days are long gone. As we move from one generation to the next, parents pass along life advice to their children hoping to inspire them to achieve what they did and more. That was the model for parenting and it worked up until now.
The problem is the world moves much faster nowadays.
One minute a college major is hot, then it’s not. One minute a career field is flowing with opportunity, the next minute it is in total disarray. Thirty years ago a parent would love for nothing more than for their child to grow up and pursue a career as a lawyer or a doctor. Thirty years ago those careers were hot. They were well paying and prestigious. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore. Government regulation has cracked down on many fields of litigation making it impossible to earn as much as lawyers once did. This of course hasn’t stopped our college education system from lying about today’s financial opportunity as a lawyer. Over the past few years, new attorneys fresh out of law school have been filing class-action lawsuits left and right against universities that have posted fraudulent claims of income opportunity and employment placement rates. As for the field of medicine, despite the fear of Obamacare deterring students from pursuing careers as doctors, medical school enrollment has seen record growth in the past two years. Unfortunately for these students, they will soon find out once they complete their residency that everything that made being a doctor prestigious and profitable 20 years ago is slowly but surely fading away.
When you consider how fast the world evolves nowadays, parents just simply have no business giving their kids life advice anymore. Parents of millennials and the new generation rising behind them have no idea what the future of tomorrow, much less the future 10 years from now looks like. Many parents live and operate within the false reality that they know what’s best for their kids. They pressure their children to pursue the routes they chose in life.
The only person that knows what’s best for your kids is your kids. That may sound like a radical and ridiculous idea but think about it.
If you’re in your 40s or 50s today, your mother may have been a stay-at-home mom and your father likely had a job working in an industry that was somehow deeply tied to manufacturing, oil or energy. Those were the hot career fields 50 years ago. Can you imagine how far back in the stone age this country would be had Generation X and the Baby Boomers taken the advice of their parents and traveled down their path? We’d be stuck in 1965 and America wouldn’t be the world leader it is today.
In thinking about my family history, I can reflect upon one of my grandfathers who was raised in a blue collar family. The morning after his high school graduation his father-figure told him to suit up and get ready for work. He was going to take him to get a job down at the local factory. My grandfather replied with a stern no. He immediately packed his bags, joined the navy, learned a skill and later became an executive of IBM. I could only imagine what my mother’s life and my life subsequently would be like had my grandfather taken the life advice of his father-figure. It wouldn’t be good. I can say that with certainty.
Whether you realize it or not you probably made decisions in your life as a teenager or a 20-something that your parents didn’t agree with. They probably thought it was risky, but you might have taken the risk, and if you did it probably panned out for you in the long-run.
When I was a kid my parents helped guide me, but they never advised me of what to do with my life. They never pinpointed or even suggested an educational endeavor or a career field for me. They also never recommended I pursue a career because it was in “high-demand” or because “it paid well.” This is why I have become the man I am today. The freedom and fear that comes along with pursuing your own path is what the American Dream was built upon. Great leaders have never been given a clear path to victory, so why then do parents of today falsely assume they know the path of success for their children?
Despite knowing that half of college students drop out of school their freshmen year, parents still push their kids to pursue a college degree even though there’s a 50 percent chance their child isn’t college-material. Despite the fact that the cost of college has increased 1,120 percent in the last 30 years, parents still encourage their kids to rack up thousands of dollars of student loan debt without the slightest reassurance that there’s value in the money and time their child spent. I’m not necessarily saying your child shouldn’t go to college, but what I am saying is to explore all avenues. Stop choosing college for your children by default.
Dear Parents of America, I love and adore you but you simply don’t have the answers and it’s ok to say so. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother or father.
Many parents may hear my rant and retort by saying that “giving their kids advice and guidance is necessary to provide them with a solid foundation.” A foundation based on what? Life in 1995? This rebuttal is a poor excuse provided by parents who are too afraid and too arrogant to simply say, “I don’t know.” “I don’t know and I don’t understand your generation. I don’t know and don’t understand the problems that will plague you, but it’s up to you to figure it out.” If parents would accept this mantra, they will give their children the freedom to be forward-thinking leaders best equipped to take on the challenges of tomorrow.
As a journalist, author, entrepreneur and outspoken thought-leader for Millennials and youth, I often receive emails from young people who are plagued with sorrow and confusion as they’re being driven to pursue an education and career by their parents that they have no interest in. What is a life worth if it’s spent living somebody else’s dream?
The rules of the game have changed. Whether parents want to accept it or not, education and intellect no longer has the value it once did. There are high school kids and college dropouts earning a living on YouTube, Vine, and Instagram, playing practical jokes, posting make-up tutorials, and playing video games. Like it or not, that’s the future, or at least a very large part of it. We are living through a resurgence of culture, entertainment, art, and creativity and it’s going to handicap your children from being order-taking cubicle clones. Thank God! If you’re preparing your kids for that life, think again. They’ll never make it and by pushing them in that direction, you’re going to destroy the one skill they must have in order to earn a living in the new economy. That skill is creativity. In grade school we slowly but surely crush creativity and replace it with conformity. The ability to create something rather it’s a product, service or a silly video on the Internet that makes people laugh is valuable, and nowadays you can earn a living doing it.
It’s time to completely re-think everything. We have to go back to the drawing board, because the old way of doing things no longer works. The days of sitting your sons and daughters on your lap and giving them a stern lesson about the complexities of life no longer matter, because that was your life, not theirs. The days of going to college, getting a good job and doing just enough to get by for 40 years is also over. If you love your kids and want the best for them, stop giving them advice and stop guiding them. Let them guide themselves. If you’ve instilled values, integrity and a strong work ethic, they will find their way.
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