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.
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?