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In which kids shouldn’t just “wing it”


I’m on the airplane flying home from Dallas and I just had a conversation with a woman my age that is sitting across the aisle from me and I feel compelled to right this post because our conversation disturbed me.


We began talking about flights and we eventually ended up discussing children.  She has two sons who are 18 and 21.  The 21 year old is in college and the 18 year old will start in the fall.


She was explaining to me that neither one of them was particularly studious nor did they really worry about the future at all.  In fact, the oldest had become a history major “by default”, had never even talked to an advisor and basically picked his classes and his schedule by “whatever was convenient and left plenty of time to sleep in.”


I asked her what he wanted to do for a living and she wasn’t sure and said that he wasn’t particularly concerned about it. The younger one was thinking possibly engineering or business but figured he would just take it as it comes.


I was basically in a state of shock because I can’t even imagine having a kid in college who was just “winging it” and now we come to the point of this post.


Dear people of the world: you need to explain to your children that living well and supporting yourself are not some sort of “basic human rights.” Getting an education and going to college are a privilege and are building blocks towards the future.  At some point, these kids will be adults and will need to take their place in society. At that point, they will need some sort of “marketable” skill.  While I never pressured my children to be successful, there were certain expectations placed upon them.


They were expected to succeed to the best of their ability as long as their parents were paying for it. Yes, my children were luckier than most in that they attended private school however if they weren’t working to be successful they wouldn’t have been there.  One of them once asked me what I would do if their grades weren’t stellar and I replied “if you were working hard and b’s and c’s were the very best you could do that’s one thing but you three are capable of getting A’s and if you’re not, then you’re not working and if that’s the case, you can get an education for free. We are going you opportunities and it’s up to you what you do with them. ”


We have been lucky in that our kids are self directed and self motivated.  My eldest was originally on a pre-law path and while she ended up not taking that path, she is taking a different one. My second was pre med and is now headed for med school and my youngest is taking computer sciences.


I’m not saying don’t be a history major; I’m saying have a direction.  If you love history take history, be a teacher, go to law school, do something, have a plan, but don’t just take courses that work around your sleep schedule.  I can’t imagine investing the amount of money that college costs to have a kid just go to school for no apparent reason.  College is a privilege and an opportunity.


I asked what type of summer jobs the child had worked in the past and she informed me that he didn’t have any.  Really? This kid was 21 and had never worked before? Of course he had no direction as it sounds like the kid had never had any expectations placed upon him.  That’s the problem with this society in my opinion.


The pendulum has swung so far from a society where kids did chores and worked in the fields to a society where kids rule the roost and just receive and receive and receive with absolutely nothing to show for it.


I promise you that kids learn to achieve by being shown what achievement is and being told what cause and effect is.


I never told my children that they had to be successful. I merely pointed out that at some point they would be responsible for supporting themselves and how they chose to do that would affect how they could eventually live.  The simple fact of the matter is that jobs using “your brain” pay more than labor type jobs.  Educated individuals are more financially successful.


Will that make them happier? That’s up to them but being able to support themselves and possibly at some point in the future, their family, is certainly one building block towards a successful future.


As parents, don’t we have an obligation to teach our kids to make the most of them?  Shouldn’t we be encouraging them to push and not always take the easy path, that building towards a better future is a worthwhile goal? Perhaps even more important than a few hours sleep?


I think it is. I won’t deny that my kids have had opportunities that are above average but the drive, the hard work and motivation, those are things that every parent should be instilling I their kids and thank goodness my husband set a great example.


Do I have all the answers? No I don’t but I can promise you that a generation of kids who are winging it isn’t good for any of us in society.


It costs a lot of money to raise and kid and shouldn’t you be expecting some sort of return for that investment. I’m not saying that all kids should be doctors or lawyers or comp science majors.  We need teachers and historians and volunteers but all professions have some sort of pre requisites and that’s what college is for.


That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree. My daughter grew up with the manta “It’s not the grade that is important, it’s the effort you put into.” Technically and obviously the grade is important but I was more interested in her doing her very best even if she couldn’t quite attain those A’s.

    When Beautiful B decided she wanted to be a nurse she found out what grades she needed and then systematically visited every teacher basically saying “Here’s my current grade, this is what I need – how are we going to achieve that?”. Impressed with her determination, they dedicated extra tuition 4 evenings a week after school to help her. On her last parents evening one of the teachers made me cry singing her praises. She didn’t get the highest grades but she made sure she got what she needed and I couldn’t ask for anything more from her.

    Though…..after her exams I asked what job she was doing for the summer; she said she was having a ‘rest’ to which I responded that she found herself a job or I stopped her pocket money. I didn’t want her to go through college without ever working and get a shock when she hit her first full time job. In her part time role, she applied the same work ethic I brought her up to have and they promoted her within 6 months.

    So, after all that waffle – yes Lynn, I wholeheartedly agree. Hard work does not hurt anyone!
    Ribenatina @ ribena.musings recently posted..My kind of humourMy Profile

  2. Lynn
    April 8, 2013

    hahaha…good story. I was shocked with this woman. People act like my kids succeeded through luck which is bullshit. It was hard work

  3. Julie
    April 8, 2013

    I think I just fell in love with you a little bit more. You are dead on with this one. Many, many parents today are raising lazy morons with a huge sence of entitlement and few skills beyond texting their friends. Makes me worry . . .

    • Lynn
      April 8, 2013

      sometimes i worry about that with my own kids but i think they’re ok…too soon to tell

  4. Shell
    April 8, 2013

    I can’t imagine being in college and having no direction. My brother-in-law was like that- no direction in college, never had to work. I bet you can guess the type of adult he is now.
    Shell recently posted..The Home Depot Flower Tower #DigInMy Profile

    • Lynn
      April 8, 2013

      i really had to struggle not to say anything rude to this lady. I mean, garbage in garbage out. Also, good day Shell!

  5. Catherine
    April 8, 2013

    Amen, sister!

  6. Liz D.
    April 8, 2013

    I agree with you for the most part, but at least her kids were going to college at all! A college degree is a must these days if you want to be successful and get ahead.
    Liz D. recently posted..Christmas in April!My Profile

    • Lynn
      April 8, 2013

      maybe …but not if it’s completely unfocused and you still have no skills or direction

  7. Lana
    April 8, 2013

    At 22, recently out of college and now working full time for an awesome company, I can honestly say you hit it right on the head, Lynn. My parents always told me that ultimately, they would not be able to support me forever, and that I needed to figure out how to do that myself. I went to a 4 year school, maintained a high GPA, and graduated in exactly 4 years with a degree (a major and four minors). While in school, I started working for a company; upon my graduation, they offered me a full time position. Although it does not directly relate to my degree, it is very closely related. I cannot imagine where I’d be if I had just “winged it” in college. That thought scares me. My brother will be headed to college in the fall, and although he’s not certain what he wants to do, he has a few solid ideas he wants to explore.

    I can’t imagine anyone simply “going to college” just for the hell of it. There are so many people who cannot afford a degree who want one, or are simply left in mounds of debt (like me) – trust me, if I had not known what I wanted to do, or at least had an idea, I would NOT have gone to college right away! The best thing to do in that case is to start working, maybe take a class or two at a community college, and really reflect on life.

    Ugh. What’s wrong with people my age (and, sometimes, their parents)?

    • Lynn
      April 8, 2013

      well, that was fantastic. I too have a 22 year old (and a 23 and 19 year old). I think a lot is the parents, so busy making everything all lovey dovey for their kids and then bam, they have no skills.

      Sounds like you have your shit together. Kudos to you and your parents must be proud :)

  8. Faith.TheBlonde.
    April 8, 2013

    It’s not just about the piece of paper, and that’s important, don’t get me wrong. But it’s also about things like cooking and cleaning as well. If I remember correctly, you had a post about teaching your son how to do laundry. Knowing this stuff is just as important as having a direction for your life.

    I dated a guy once who shelled out hundreds of dollars a month to have a maid come in every few days to clean and took his laundry to be done for him. And he made the same amount of money I did.

    I think a big part of children’s education is teaching them how to live within their means. How to balance their checkbook and how to grocery shop for healthy food without putting themselves so far in debt their own kids will have to bail them out. This starts while they still live at home. My own daughters, 10 and 12 years old, can clean the house AND make a healthy meal while at the same time maintaining their grades PLUS the after school stuff they do. This isn’t because *I’m* lazy, but because there will come a day when they won’t be living with mom and will need to feed themselves and/or their friends who may come to their homes to visit.

    So, in my opinion, is having an idea of what you want to do when you’re off to college important? Yes, absolutely. But so is knowing what to do once you’ve earned that degree and are starting that career that won’t immediately start paying six figures on day one.

    • Lynn
      April 9, 2013


  9. Theresa
    April 9, 2013

    Amen, sister. Preach it! Same rules apply in this house. I think our girls will get along just fine this weekend!

    • Lynn
      April 9, 2013


  10. Name *
    April 15, 2013

    Thanks, Lynn, this was an excellent post, and I am reminded how glad I am that my 21-year old daughter had a full college experience, taking her opportunity seriously but also having fun. She starts veterinary school in the fall!

    My husband is a college professor and some of the things he deals with are scary…thankfully there are smart, capable young people out there, too!

    This is a Yahoo! piece I saw today:

    • Lynn
      April 16, 2013

      awww…congrats on that. It’s difficult to get it right isn’t it?

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