Are our Kids worse off?

I not only read my share of personal finance blogs each day, but try to check in on the mainstream sites as well to make sure I’m up to speed on the bigger picture. A few articles over at CNN Money caught my eye. These articles in particular painted a bleak outlook by Americans and their kid’s futures. Being a dad of three teenagers it caught my attention. Nearly 6-in-10 Americans say things are going badly, the highest number in over two years. So what do you think are our kids worse off?

Times Have Changed

I realize life as a child today is a lot different from when my wife and I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I used to leave the house and play with the neighborhood kids until it was dark out, or until one of our parents would yell out of the front door for us to come home. My wife walked to school starting in second grade with her sister, and no adult. We both came home from school at early ages to an empty home because both our parents were at work.

I remember researching what age it might be okay to leave our kid’s home alone, when my wife returned to work. Just to make sure it was legal. I’m sure my parents never did that. If our kids want to hang out with their friends they make plans via group chat or text not in the neighborhood streets like I once did.

I get it times have changed. The level of trust we have within a community is not was it was 30 years ago and we would never let a second grader walk to school by themselves. I understand the easiest way to get my kids attention is to change the wifi password. But just because social interaction and technology has change doesn’t mean it has to be all doom and gloom for our children.

kids worse off

Shifting Priorities

I’m in my second year as a committee member on our local school board. There is a commitment with our district to make a change to better prepare student for the real world. Possibly adding courses of study that could prepare them for careers, making sure they have been taught basic literacy’s in finance, career, interpersonal, and, technology. I think it’s a great start, but what I’ve realized it’s going to take a long time to implement.  A school district that covers K-12 grades will take many years to introduce this changes. So it’s a great start, but if parents are not doing their part at home so many students will go into adulthood unprepared, and our district is just one of hundreds.

It starts at Home

We encourage our children to go out with their friends, like outside or to the movies. We wanted them to realize that’s its okay to put the video games or phones down for a while and have real conversations.

The CNN articles and those survey had economic fears and career concerns for their children. I certainly want my children to have happy and successful futures, but it’s more than just a wish. I’m teaching them as much as possible about money, personal finance, careers, etc. while they still as home with us.

They have an upcoming winter break, a week vacation from school. We have no major plans. Once item that they will be doing is each taking a turn cooking dinner for the family. They have to plan the meal, shop for it and prepare it. It’s just another way we are getting them ready to be self-sufficient. Even though they may not be learning everything they need in school to be successful in the real world we are supplementing their learning to hopefully round out their education.

So, I don’t have any immediate fears for my three teenagers because they have watched their own parents struggle and overcome a huge pile of debt. They were involved and learned from our mistakes and we will continue to teach them as much as possible before they head out on their own. I do have fear for other parents who have not yet found the education or behavior changes they need to be successful in their own lives and to be able to pass it along to their children. Although some school system appear to be slowly changing, it may be too late for some.

Do you have any fears for your children futures? What types of things are you teaching at home to prepare them? Are our school systems behind the times?

35 thoughts on “Are our Kids worse off?”

  1. I don’t have fears for my daughter’s future at this point. As it has always been, a lot of teaching and forming your kid’s life starts at home. While schools provide a great service, they can’t teach them everything. I plan to teach her about finances, basic skills around the house, and when she gets older, how to research and pick a career that has opportunities and a good ROI.

  2. Its so surprising how times have changed. In the 70’s, I had to walk to school starting in grade 1, it was about 20 minutes away, and I walked alone as my brothers were older & at different schools. A dog used to bark at me every day, and one day I could just not walk past that house, the dog was quite scary. I walked up to a complete stranger’s house, knocked on their door, and asked if they could drive me home. Yes, I was that scared that I was willing to take a wild chance like that. Luckily they were good people, though my mom nearly had a heart attack when she looked out the window and saw me getting out of a strange man’s car, I must have been around 6 years old. Needless to say I drove my own daughter to school & back for years, like parents do today.

    1. It is amazing. I was in a conversation about the topic today and someone mentioned that things haven’t changed, just the speed at which information travels. So the dangers have always been out there, we were just not as of aware of them as we are today.

  3. Yes times are very different and we all have to adapt. IT is unfortunate that kids would prefer to stay in and watch youtube, but its on the parents to enforce time restrictions for electronics. I think it is going to get better in the future. Good luck.

  4. I think knowing financial education has to take place in the home is key.

    My son isn’t even talking yet but I’m already mindful of ways we can teach him about money and what it means to work hard but also work smart.

    I think I have the benefit of growing up in my parents home where learning about money happened everyday.

    We were required do chores without reward (house work was how you paid rent) and we had to go into the world and make our own money which wasn’t always fun.

    If we wanted to go to camp during the summer or have gas money to get to school (the school bus was our no-fee option) we had to get a job.

    I’m not overly worried but I’m sure I’ll have times when I am.

    If we start young (piggy banks and learning to count using pennies) and stay consistent (savings as a requirment and work as a standard) I think we’ll be in good shape.

    1. Sounds like your parents taught you some great lesson Brendan. I agree important to teach as much as possible about finances at home and I believe it’s important to be transparent about your own money.

  5. Today’s children will have higher taxes, less freedom, lower wages, and more crowded conditions. It is inevitable as our population grows.

    Most of today’s kids want more, but do not want to pay for it. They will have to, as there is no one else to pay. Wants security?, be prepared to pay with less freedom,

    1. I’m not so sure that’s they case. If they start off early in life planning being smart with money and career they don’t have to fall in line with everyone else.

      1. I see where No Nonsense Landlord is going with this, and I have similar thoughts. But my thoughts are more focused on the massive financial obligations millennials and likely the next generation will face. We will have to clean up the mess that is Social Security and Medicare, as well as pay off massive student loans, not to mention our enormous Federal debt. It’s really a huge challenge we’ll face and if we don’t fix it we will absolutely be worse off.

        1. Well it starts with individual doing their part of not adding to the overall debt, borrowing money they can’t repay, making better career choices, living within means as they start their adult lives, etc. I believe that all begin with education at a young age.

  6. I know that when i was a kid, I knew every person in my neighborhood, and every adult felt the responsibility to keep an eye on all of the kids and yell if we were doing something we weren’t supposed to. Every kid knew a spanking at school meant a spanking at home. Every kid lined up for vaccinations at school. Now, no one wants to take responsibility for anyone else’s kids (except by making a call to social services, maybe) because while parents may want community, they don’t want to share their authority or cede their ability to choose what’s best for their children. People want community on their own terms, which means a lot less community.

    Now my kid barely knows any adults in our neighborhood. Heck, I barely know any adults in my neighborhood. My daughter doesn’t even play in the yard without an adult at least in the general vicinity, much less wander around with a pack of kids.

    1. Its funny the neighbors I know and my children now they best on our street our the older ones. 65+, it seems the younger the families the more they keep to themselves.

  7. Brian, I’m sure your kids learned a tremendous amount from your debt payoff journey, as well as the new financial mindset/tools you’ve adopted. I’m sure they’re going out into the world much wiser and better prepared than most teenagers today.

    I’m not worried for my daughter’s future, yet, since she’s only six. (Although thinking about the middle school years does terrify me a bit…) However, I realize that there are many things I need to teach her in the ensuing years – from household chores, to managing money, to developing and maintaining healthy peer relationships.

    I read the book, How to Raise an Adult” last year, and highly recommend it to parents of kids of all ages.

    1. I do think they are on their way to being well prepared. Middle school gets interesting. I never worried about them, but the other kids and what they were being taught at home. I’ll have to check out that book.

  8. My grown kids are doing much worse than I did when I was young and here’s why: They can’t afford the basic necessities of life on their own. Aside from the fact that the median home price is outrageous such that even middle class Americans can hardly afford to be ‘median’, rents have skyrocketed. We may be out of the recession, but to me it sure feels like we’re in one. To make matters worse, kids are graduating with huge student loan debt. And so…they live with mom and dad.

    I wish my kids had the luxury of growing up in a simpler time, a time when having a college education came with a little peace of mind knowing that your future would be bright. I hurt for my kids seeing them struggle. I wish I had the answer.

  9. I think we’ll wait to see if we’re able to have the kid before worrying about his future. But if we do, I’m definitely going to have to supplement his education. Apparently, AZ schools are awful, but I’m not paying for private school. Nuh-uh.

    I’m glad you’re doing a good job preparing your kids for the world — including the financial one.

  10. All any parent can do it make their best effort to educate their children and teach them the skills they need to succeed. My two children are grown, and one is struggling while the other seems to be finding his place in the world. I worry about them both and do what I can to help. Times have certainly changed and I think that only increases the lessons we need to pass on to our kids. I’m glad to hear that at least some school districts are addressing these, but so many of these skills and values need to be taught at home.

    1. Just because they are taught it doesn’t mean they will put it into action.I’m hopefully my three will take the lessons and run with them, or at least know they can always come back for help and advice.

      I just think of how many adults I talk to who don’t have a handle on their own finances, so how in the world will they be able to teach their children.

  11. I have had the experience of thinking to myself, “I won’t worry about that. They’ll learn it in school . . .” And then I catch myself and realize I’d better step up. Schools have struggled to find a way to reach students with a financial literacy curriculum, but whether or not they find an effective way to teach it, parents should definitely take that lesson upon themselves. Your kids are lucky, Brian. You and your wife are being very proactive in teaching them.

    1. I was hoping you’d common since you are a teacher and librarian. Many school have curriculum, but its not mandatory. We hope our teaching will make an impact on them.

  12. I’m yet to have a kid, but I do fear for my children in the technology sense. They will be much more advanced than me, of course, but I see little kids that are maybe a year old and they already know how to unlock an iPad and play games in it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m leaning towards the bad side. The last thing I want is a kid recluse that doesn’t know how to communicate with their spouse and ends up asking to live in my basement when their 35 years old. What is the limit? What’s the right age to give your kid a cell phone? I got one when I was 17, and at that time that was very late. I was the last of my friends to get one, but I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I see kids now that are 10 and 11 and they have their own personal phone. I don’t know what to think about that. I don’t know why age I’d want my kids to have a phone.

    1. We got our kids phones when they were 12. very cheap no contract phones at the time. The have better phones now. I’m pretty tech savvy and have trouble keeping up with the apps they are into. Just learn how to manage the wifi and you’ll be fine. 🙂

  13. Some really interesting points here. I definitely think that it’s important that we try to understand what younger generations are going through before we decide if they’re successful or not.

    1. Not sure if I’ll be able to capture a generation, but do my part understand my three teenagers by being involved in their lives and having open conversations with them.

  14. I’d like to think our kids will be better off as long as *I* do the work of remaining engaged and involved in their lives. Like a lot of other commenters said, it’s often about the parents and not the kids… what do kids know, they’re kids. 🙂

  15. I don’t have any children yet, but I do have a younger sister who is graduating from high school this year. I can see such a big difference in what she’s faced with opposed to how things were when I was her age 11 years ago. Thankfully, I learned how to be financially responsible at home, but my parents’ financial situation has been different (more secure) for most of her lifetime whereas I saw more of the struggles as they were just starting out. The economy has been very different for us too. I had no trouble finding part time jobs from the time I was 14 all the way through college. My sister hasn’t been able to find a job, even though she has looked. I was able to pay cash and earn scholarships to cover my undergrad education, but I think she’s going to have to start out with debt. This is a good reminder to me to reach out to her and let her know I’m there for her should she have any financial questions as she starts out on her own. Thanks for that!

  16. We are definitely providing our kids with financial literacy education, but you have made some points I need to consider in the future. It’s a great idea to allow each child to plan, shop, and prepare a meal. This opens my eyes to several other lessons we need to teach as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the enlightenment!

Comments are closed.