Recently, I saw a quote from Mike Rowe, best known for his TV program "Dirty Jobs," among other things. Mike is a working-class man who provides lots of sound advice.
Sometimes the information Mike offers can sting a little, which in my opinion, implies it's important to consider. For example, I found this quote from Mike concerning the next generation to be quite thought-provoking:
“We’re churning out a generation of poorly educated people with no skill, no ambition, no guidance, and no realistic expectations of what it means to work.” —Mike Rowe
I can tell you from my personal experience in hiring and generally interacting with people under the age of 30 that there’s a lot of truth in what Mike says.
Unfortunately, our society, education system, and parenting practices are all contributing factors to this situation. Today's youth is being shaped into something that isn't quite healthy, from giving out participation prizes to allowing unlimited screen time to the media, particularly social media, to the strange things that are promoted in the school system.
What can parents do as a result?
While you may not have immediate control over everything that occurs in the world or even in the education system around your children, you do have power over how you raise your children while they’re living under your roof.
You have the ability to make great changes in your children’s lives, to raise them in the way they ought to go. You have this power because as a parent, you set the tone, the rules, and the boundaries for your household. Which also means that you have the power to prove Mike Rowe wrong in the future when your children enter the workforce.
If you’re not sure if you’ve done enough to set your future generation up for success, here are a few simple questions you can ask yourself: Are you doing what it takes to ensure your kids are not part of the generation that Mike Rowe described? And are you teaching your children the value of work and self-reliance?
Here are a few ways you can help change a generation, beginning with your children:
Bring back family dinners.
Family meals are a great time for families to bond. Mealtime gathered around the table offers a consistent time for everyone to catch up, share about their day, and open up about what’s going on in their lives. And no cell phones at the table!
Consider not giving your kids a cell phone until high school.
Or better yet, until they’re old enough to drive. The long-term ramifications of excessive screen time and endless internet browsing, especially in the hands of a young child who lacks self-control, can be far more harmful to your child than their disappointment of being one of the few students in their class without a cell phone.
Monitor your child's phone and screen usage, and set up parental settings to prevent them from accessing inappropriate content.
You might need to look into how children can conceal apps and how to access your child's browsing history, even if they believe they’ve removed it. You can better advise and protect your child if you’re aware of what they’re doing online.
Give your kids regular chores around the home, & check in to make sure they finish them.
This is one of the main ways young children develop a strong work ethic early in life. Some parents give up on initiating chores for their kids because of incessant complaining, or they make excuses about their children being too busy with extracurricular activities. Doing everything for your child deprives them of the ability to learn basic life skills that they’ll need when they come into adulthood. Working a little bit harder is a terrific way to see your kid develop moral character.
Always link your children's allowance to their work if you provide it to them.
Gift-giving is definitely appropriate on some occasions, like birthdays and holidays. However, providing your child regular money with no conditions attached won't instill in them a true view of what it takes to earn money in the real world. Instead, link your child's allowance to their household duties and possibly even their academic performance.
Monitor who your children hang around with and set clear boundaries with them about who they can and can’t spend time with.
If you notice that your kid is hanging out with the wrong crowd, or someone who’s influencing them negatively and might lead them into trouble, then take action by putting firm and clear boundaries in place sooner rather than later when they’re more attached to those relationships.
Get to know the parents of your children's friends.
This will help you see if they’re like minded when it comes to parenting, and more importantly, will enable you to ensure that your child will be safe in their care.
Refrain from using screens as a babysitter for your child.
How many times have you seen parents give their kids little video machines to keep them busy while in public places or in the car? It may keep them quiet, but it fries their brains and fills them with cultural information that may not be in their best interest. The younger the kid, the more dangerous screens can be. This includes letting them watch endless cartoons or Disney movies. A screen is a screen and most are bad news for kids. Instead, find fun games, activities, and work around the house that they can do away from a screen, both with you and on their own time. Remember, a screen can never replace the quality time every child craves from their parents.