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How to Keep Your Young Adult From Moving Out* *Disregard if you’re ready for an empty nest…

If you’re looking for some ideas to keep your young adult at home forever, I’ve come up with some great tips.  These ideas will be especially helpful for parents of those who have decided that their education is complete or those who have completed college or trade school and are in imminent danger of moving out into the world.

 

  1. Make sure that you perform all of your parental cooking duties with regularity and without complaint. Do NOT trouble them with worrying about where their next meal is coming from and whether or not they have the time, energy or inclination to cook and clean up.  Keep the fridge and pantry full of their favorite snacks and be willing to make a special trip to the store just as soon as a special item has been depleted.

 

  1. Do their laundry regularly. If they don’t put it in the laundry basket, you’ll have to gather it yourself.  No respectable parent would ever allow their young adult offspring to be traumatized by running out of clean underwear!    Be sure that when you clean their sheets you make the bed afterwards.  After all, they didn’t ASK you to tear apart their bed.

 

  1. Don’t ask for any help with chores. After all, it’s YOUR house, so you shouldn’t impose YOUR standards of cleanliness on them.  Even their own room should either be cleaned by you or left untouched.  It’s ok though; since they will always be living with you, they will never need to learn to keep things tidy in order to successfully coexist with a roommate or a significant other.  Besides, they need to use their spare time to play video games and catch up on their favorites shows. 

 

  1. Ensure that they have the freedom to host friends both day and night.  Don’t embarrass them by expecting them to ask you for permission.  After all, they are adults now!  When the boyfriend/girlfriend sleeps over, don’t make them feel awkward.  They have their own room and nobody is bothering you.  Leaving a tray of snacks outside their door is a very kind gesture.

 

  1. Always make sure you provide them with a nice vehicle to drive. Never expect them to be responsible for any aspect of said vehicle. A loving parent would provide a gas card, perform routine maintenance (oil changes) and clean the car regularly.  Be sure you pay the insurance and that you place a valid insurance card inside the vehicle.

 

  1. Continue to pay their personal expenses. You’re expecting far too much if you expect them to buy their clothes, cell phone, car insurance, car expenses or any other cost that is directly attributed to them.  Any parental expectations of this kind will negatively impact the stock prices of such companies as Starbucks, Pink, Apple and Game Stop.  As you can see, if you were to expect financial accountability, you would be unpopular with not only your own family, but a wide range of shareholders as well!

 

  1. Don’t expect them to work at a job that is beneath their dignity. After all, wasn’t YOUR first job in management? Ok, I know, that was probably not the case.  But you shouldn’t expect them to go to a place where the people in charge are mean to them when they do not perform as expected.   Don’t encourage them to stay in such an abusive work environment!

 If you follow all of the suggestions listed above, you can be relatively sure that they will never leave the nest.  Just continue to keep up your part to ensure your reservation in the “good” nursing home!

If, however, your goal is to raise financially competent young adults who are able to move out on their own, check out some other articles by The Launch Lady.    www.the-launch-lady.com/about

financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, money, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, stay at home mom, teaching financial responsibility, Uncategorized, wants and needs

Wants vs. Needs-Cutting the Food Budget

 

Wants Vs Needs Food budgetHello Fellow Parents,

I don’t know about you, but I’m here trying to make the best of my incarceration bonus time at home.  During the day, I change into my day pajamas and make the lengthy commute to my day computer.  When I am thoroughly sick of my work location, I retrace my steps.  I end the day in my reclining office chair with my night pajamas and my tablet.  The days are starting to run together.  I fear that I will work on a Saturday because I think it is still Friday.  Can anyone relate?

I’ve been trying to think of topics that would be helpful to discuss with your kids while so many people are spending extra time at home.  The topic today is very basic, but I think it might be time to bring it up again no matter whether your children are in grade school, middle school, high school or young adults.

Wants versus needs is a relevant discussion at any age.  It is especially relevant now with the current state of our economy.  Parents may need to make choices which will affect their dependent children and young adults.  I am writing to help get the conversation started which is the first step in making necessary budget cuts.

It’s painful to disappoint our children, teenagers and even young adults, but while we are going through periods of (hopefully temporary) unemployment, some tough decisions will need to be made.  The following list is a good place to start the discussion (only #1 will be discussed in this post):

  Basic Needs Wants
1 Healthy Food & Water Eating (or drinking) out, extravagant grocery purchases
2 Shelter Entertainment
3 Utilities Cell phone with Data Plan
4 Clothing New, designer clothing
5 Personal Care-haircuts, etc. Personal care-professional mani/pedi, color treatments
6 Transportation expenses Car-sometimes (with insurance, gas, repairs)
7 Basic Educational Expenses Private School Tuition
8 Debt Payments-existing Extracurricular and enrichment activities
9 Internet-sometimes Internet-sometimes
10   Subscriptions
11   Vacations
12   Gifts
  Other topics to be discussed in subsequent posts

 The basic needs require no discussion as I think we are all familiar with them.  It’s worth a family discussion to pull together and figure out where costs can be cut, if necessary.  I was a stay at home mom for many years.  I offer you my many years of personal experience in extreme cost cutting while still living an abundant life.  I have trained my whole life for this!

Grocery shopping is a discretionary expense where we can cut a lot of “fat” from the budget, quite literally!  Just for an experiment, take a look at your last couple of grocery receipts, and add up the amount that was spent on beverages.  Include pop, coffee, tea, milk, juice, alcohol, bottled water, sugared powdered drink mixes and anything else I may have forgotten.  If all those items were stricken from the shopping list, you would still have plain old tap water.  Sound exciting?  Not exactly, but right now this discussion is about differentiating between wants and needs!   Next, add up anything that would be eaten as a snack outside of a regular meal.  Include chips, dips, desserts, pastries, snack bars, pudding, sugary yogurts, candy, nuts and anything else you see on your receipt that I didn’t think of.  How much would you save if you cut out all of them?  Next item under scrutiny is meat.  How much was spent on meat?   Can you cut out some meat and replace with beans for protein?  Can you buy less expensive cuts that are just as good after marinating?  How about cereal and other breakfast items?  A big container of oatmeal is a much more economical alternative than sugary cereal. Donuts and pastries are not an actual food group.    How is this a family discussion, you ask?  Well, once you have figured out what areas can be cut out of your food budget, add in a few of your family’s most important luxury items to your next shopping trip.  If you keep a bag of apples on hand, no one will go hungry, but they may decide that they were not actually hungry enough to eat an apple!   Also important is meal planning, leftover management, and where you shop.  You can get a lot more food at Aldi than you can at Whole Foods.  Buying generic, at least sometimes, shopping sales and clipping coupons will go a long way as well. Buying a large sized yogurt and adding your own fruit is more economical than buying individual serving sized containers.  Since most of us have nowhere to go right now, why pay extra for convenience?

Now that you’ve had a chance to evaluate and cut your grocery budget, now you can look at how much is spent eating out.  I recommend downloading your bank statement and credit card statements for the past few months.  If you download everything into an Excel format, it will be easy to see how much was spent on restaurant meals, coffee, bars, etc.  You might be absolutely stunned when you see the numbers in front of you in black and white.  Does your family eat out twice per week, or 8-9 times per month?  How much would save if you ate all your meals at home?  What if, instead, you splurged once or twice per month with moderately priced meals?  Could pizza night out turn into frozen pizza night  at home (feel free to splurge on the electricity to bake it) with a movie in your very own, virus -free living room with your delicious hot, almost free popcorn with real, actual butter?  How much was spent on coffee, craft beer and wine tastings?  How much could be saved if those indulgences turned into occasional treats rather than daily or weekly occurrences?  Open the restaurant discussion with your kids.  What if they could only choose one or two special meals per month?  Where would they choose?  There’s no reason that their carryout choice must be the same as yours.

Take this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about money. They’re resilient.  It’s not like they don’t already know something is amiss.    There is no shame in having to make cuts when necessary.  The biggest mistake would be denying that financial sacrifices need to be made and jeopardizing the long-term welfare of your family.

Let me know whether you did this exercise and how much money you found in your budget that could be used on fixed budget items such as rent or mortgage.  In addition to freeing up resources in the budget, this activity should also contribute to the health and wellness of your family.  Happy hunting!

 

 

Adulting, college, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, money, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Bill of Rights For Parents of Young Adults

Bill of rights

The unwritten parental constitution has changed immensely over the last 50 years.  In earlier times, parents had a lot more expectations for their kids.  Maybe it was just the way it was in that era or maybe it was out of sheer necessity.  More recently, parents in general can’t seem to do enough for their kids, even when they are pressed for both time and money.  If we don’t accommodate all of their desires, then we have tremendous guilt.    I get it.  I’ve had plenty of guilt, but not because I didn’t love and care for my kids.  It’s because I said no to many of the things other kids took for granted.  Like smart phones.  Before you judge me too harshly, just know that mine had a flip phone which they got for 8th grade graduation.   I wanted to teach delayed gratification and that trying to “keep up with the Joneses” was neither wise nor sustainable.

Continue reading “Bill of Rights For Parents of Young Adults”

college, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Veterans Day

Launch Lady Veteran’s Day Edition

flag (2)

Today is a special day, and for me, it is a day of introspection and gratitude.   It has been more than three decades since I last wore the uniform, but my time as an active duty military service member helped to shape me into the person that I am today.   When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get out.  Now that I’m older, I feel more pride with each passing year.  I’m a huge proponent of raising independent young adults and my own experience assures me that it is possible.  Military service is a viable option for all healthy young adults, both male and female.   Today, I had an epiphany about my personal fears which led to deeper gratitude.  I wanted to go the Veteran’s Day ceremony today, but had decided not to because my husband was working and I didn’t want to go alone.  Then I remembered that when I went to boot camp, I didn’t have a husband.  Each time I checked into a new command (6 times), I did so without a husband or a parent. That realization was all I needed to spur me to action.  Within an hour, I was standing tall with my brothers and sisters.  I spent a good part of the rest of the day talking to people I didn’t know at the local American Legion post.  It was a very good day!  I’d like to talk a little about how you can encourage your kids to make the best of the opportunities that are presented to them.  Here are some of the things I learned from my personal experience: Continue reading “Launch Lady Veteran’s Day Edition”

Adulting, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

You’re Ready for Little Johnny to Move Out But He Can’t Find a Roommate?

Little Johnny

A few decades ago in a state far, far away there were two young ladies dispatched to the same military base at the same time.  Because they were coming from the same school, arriving at the new base within a short time AND they were both female, they were OBVIOUSLY meant to be roommates.  They accepted this belief without question.  The young sailors looked at a couple of apartments before they finally settled into a quiet, two bedroom, two bath, first floor unit.    The older and wiser of the two was a very sweet young lady with a thick Alabama accent which so intrigued the younger and far more obnoxious one of the mismatched duo.  The sweet one could scarcely utter a sentence without having a few of her southernisms regurgitated back to her with a poorly imitated accent.  The southern belle was far too kind to smack her roommate so she politely resigned herself to six months of dysfunctional living.   Continue reading “You’re Ready for Little Johnny to Move Out But He Can’t Find a Roommate?”

Adulting, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Teach a Kid to Fish and She’ll Eat For a Lifetime

Launch lady tax check

As an avid reader of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy, I have read that one of man’s greatest fears is the threat of poverty.  Though I have never personally experienced abject poverty, I know well some who have.  I do know what it is like to have to make tough choices. I know what it is like to have $5 left until payday with no savings account or safety net. This was part of what drove my decision to enlist in the US Navy when I was still a teenager.  In retrospect, it was one of the best things I could have done, though it didn’t feel like it at the time.  I was given the chance to be wholly accountable for my outcomes.  It was an excellent training ground to learn countless life lessons.  I am far from being a financial expert, but I continue to learn.  My drive to learn is so I can teach others what I wish I had known at a much younger age.  My own daughters have always had a safety net and sometimes find it hard to comprehend (or tolerate) what I am trying to teach them.  What I offer is perspective by asking the following question: “When our children no longer have parents to consult with (or get subsidies from) how will they manage to get along financially?”  I am a fervent believer in “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”   Here are just a few things I’ve tried to teach my kids that you might find helpful as you try to teach life skills to yours: Continue reading “Teach a Kid to Fish and She’ll Eat For a Lifetime”

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Teens Without Screens: How to Lure Them Away From WiFi While Promoting Financial Responsibility

lawn mower

Lots of parents today are trying to figure out how to keep their teens productively busy.  Most of us will agree that there should be time devoted to just being a kid.  But the job of a kid has changed over the years.  Being a kid used to mean activities like playing board games, jumping rope, playing softball and hide and seek as well as many other activities that included imagination, physical activity, teamwork, mental stimulation and fresh air. Being a teen used to include hanging out with friends, attending school functions and seeing the occasional movie.   Today’s youth seem to have a more limited set of activities, many of which fill time rather than contribute to wonderful childhood memories. Examples of this are watching television, playing video games, and using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers and tablets.  Basically, if they need electricity (and Wi-Fi) to have fun, I have alternate ideas.  Not ideas for entertainment, but ways to make money while fostering a sense of responsibility, creativity and accomplishment. This is not directed to the parents who are perfectly fine with the status quo.  If you are a parent who wants to redirect the energy of your teens without them having a traditional part time job, read on for suggestions.

Childcare

Parents are always looking for babysitters and a great one can make some serious cash these days! The best way to find a job is through word of mouth.   I found a good one when my kids were small.  You know you’ve found a professional when she shows up with a backpack filled with activities.    She was confident, popular, and not shy about stating her rate.  I loved that she had other plans besides watching a movie with my girls!  When my youngest daughter was bored, she would go play with the twins that lived behind us.  They were much younger than her, but I’m sure their mom appreciated that she kept them occupied for a while and I was happy that she found something creative to do!

Pet Care

I realize that childcare is not for everyone, but pet care is appealing to a pretty wide audience.  There are many different opportunities.

  • Vacation Care: We used to have a neighbor boy come and take care of our guinea pig and later on our dogs while we were on vacation.  It was fun for him because he didn’t have pets.  It was less expensive for us than taking the dogs to a kennel.  Though they never said, I think the dogs appreciated not being locked up in a cage for a week.
  • Dog-walking:   Lots of people would love to have someone stop by during the day to walk their dog or provide some companionship.  This is a great summer opportunity, but can even be done after school for those who get out early enough.
  • Yard clean up:  Being a Pooper Scooper is not a glamorous job, but the opportunities are everywhere and there is the potential for higher pay and less competition!

Cleaning Trash Cans

I have a friend whose teens got paid to clean out trash cans this summer.   Everybody has one and most people would probably be happy to delegate the job if someone were to just show up and make the offer!  Just like Pooper Scooper, the potential for pay is higher than average and the competition will be lower.

 Light Housework

With all of the working folks being so busy these days, there is bound to be someone close by who would pay to have someone vacuum, clean bathrooms or kitchens, dust or any other task that can be negotiated.  My daughter organized the pantry for me recently, which I appreciated immensely since her organizational skills are far better than my own!  I just had a conversation with friends who told me that their 6-year-old assists in cleaning the floors and bathrooms.   There is great satisfaction in learning to do a job competently and parents can encourage that with plenty of praise and patience.

Cooking

Many working families would love the opportunity to come home to the occasional meal prepared by a competent and willing chef.   The cuisine does not even need to be complicated…just ready to eat!

Cutting Grass

I’ve lived in my current home for more than 12 years.  Not once has someone knocked on my door and offered to mow the grass.  At my house, there were two teenaged girls to cut the grass and occasionally, I did it myself.    I’m not going to lie; they didn’t love it, but I was perfectly ok with that.  I view the task as an abundant opportunity for anyone regardless of age or gender.  The same friends with the floor cleaning 6-year-old have an 8-year-old son.  He is already beginning to cut the grass at home while his father works with him to do the detailed work.  He even had the neighbors ask him to cut their lawn!

Raking Leaves

This opportunity is obviously regional and seasonal, but is great for filling a need for someone else while earning money and getting fresh air.

Shoveling Snow

Again, this one is regional and seasonal.  Last winter, we had a lot of snow in a short time.  I had help shoveling for the first two days, but on the third day, I was alone and exhausted.  I had read in our neighborhood’s on-line forum that there was a young man in his early teens who was traveling around the vicinity with a snow blower.  I was very excited; not just to find help, but to see a young man who was aggressively pursuing an opportunity to earn.  Read more about Tyler in “Today a Flying Unicorn Landed in My Driveway”.  https://wordpress.com/post/the-launch-lady.com/98

Homework Help

Some teens are qualified to provide tutoring to younger children.  This includes assistance with reading, math and test preparation.   Parents of younger children will appreciate having a respectable teen as a role model for their child.

Technology Assistance

Speaking from personal experience, not everyone is comfortable with today’s technology.  Every time I get a new computer or phone, I enlist the help of one of my favorite millennials to get it set up!  There are a lot of people like me out there who don’t have their own millennials to ask for help.

What all of these jobs have in common is that opportunities are abundant, flexible and are usually within walking distance.  I know that we are all well aware that these opportunities exist, but for some reason, I don’t hear of many teens capitalizing on most of them.

These opportunities to earn are some of the more obvious ones.   There are so many ways to grow your family’s economy that can fit in around school and family time yet still allow for plenty of free time for enjoyable activities.  Just because we are able to give our kids so much more than our parents gave us doesn’t mean we should.  I know many present day teens and young adults who have learned self-sufficiency at an early age because more has been expected of them compared with their peers.  I can assure you that they will appreciate money earned far more than any handouts received.  Finding opportunities to earn at an earlier age also provides a great start to money management.  Earning allows teens to set short term goals like buying a video game or long term goals such as buying a vehicle or saving for college. As you help coach them to find ways to earn, be sure to keep your own gender bias from getting in the way.  I grew up in a family with all girls and then I had only daughters.  As a result, I’ve defied the boundaries for tasks that were traditionally thought to be assigned to a specific gender. The best part about these options is that they are not only for teens but anyone who is looking to earn spare cash.  You would be doing a great service to your offspring if you don’t give them the impression that they are above doing any of these tasks.  In my opinion, any job on this list is far more desirable than college debt (or any debt at all)!

What Can a Parent Do To Increase Motivation?

  • Severely limit all screen time which just might bore them to death
    • Drop them off at the library when they can’t find something to do
  • Give them responsibility for some of their wants
    • Cars are great motivators to earn
    • Smartphones are also great for inspiring one to work
    • Cash for movies, fast food, etc.

I hope you find these ideas to be useful or can see them in a different perspective from before. Word of mouth or on-line neighborhood forums are great places to find these jobs.  If you see a home that is perpetually in need of yard maintenance, help your teen learn initiative by offering to walk up to the door with them as they ask for the job.   My goal has always been to teach my girls to become independent young adults after their formal education ended.  Whether you share my goal or if you are just trying to keep them from too many non-productive pursuits, I hope this has been helpful.   Please share if you think this can help someone else.  Leave a comment if you have some other earning ideas or if you have a story of an amazing child, teen or young adult that you’d like to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adulting, cats, college, earn money, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, mother love, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

How This 19-Year-Old Found a Way to Conquer the World on Her Own Terms

Kelsey and her kitty

I grew up believing that 18 was a magical age.  I could not WAIT to turn 18 so I could be independent and do things my own way.  I was bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  I still have my original JCPenney credit card that I’ve had for well over 3 decades.  Filling out the application was probably how I celebrated my 18th!  I had a “soft launch” shortly after 18 when I moved in with a friend.  I paid a pittance for rent while I learned to navigate life totally independent of my parents.  Since I didn’t have a car at this point, my friend was gracious enough to shuttle my pathetic a$$ to the laundromat.  Getting to work required that I either negotiate with coworkers or walk.   After a few months of this, home started looking pretty appealing, so I went home long enough to buy a car. After I got my mobility machine, the independent streak really kicked in and I moved out again.  My early independence is what helped shape my views as a parent.

Thirty-one years later, I was the parent of a teenager who had been bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  We were both brand new graduates; college for me and high school for her.  She entered her first year of community college as she had been groomed to do.   Unfortunately, she hated it.  She hated everything including the town we lived in.  She felt trapped by expectation and didn’t want to waste the time or money to complete college when she had no particular aspirations.  I didn’t try to fight her.  My own experience had shown me that if you really want to accomplish a higher education, then you’ll make it happen when the time is right.  I simply told her that if she chose to end her education that it would be time to be an adult with grown-up responsibilities.

I must digress a bit and talk about what happened the year before.  Her senior year of high school was only one class, so she worked full time.  When I saw how she was spending her money, I brainstormed for a plan.  We sat down and calculated some numbers as though she were going to move out to give her an idea about what “life” costs.  We came up with a figure that she would need to pay her own way.  Then she was given the following two options:

  • Pay the agreed upon sum to me to contribute to household expenses
    • I never told her but I would have saved it and given it to her when she moved out
  • Put the money in her savings account each month with the stipulation that it could not be withdrawn and that I would look at the statement each month to hold her accountable

I persisted even though she thought I just wanted her money.  My true mission, in addition to inspiring her independence, was to minimize the cash that she had been handling so frivolously. I was glad that she chose what most would agree was the only intelligent choice.  My mission was accomplished when she was able to eventually leave home with several thousand dollars in the bank.  She also did a soft launch by moving in with a friend right after she turned 19, but came home a few months later.  What she did next floored even me!

Three months after her 19th birthday, she informed me that she had found a job on-line and was moving to Utah which was almost 1,400 miles from home.  She had gotten a phone interview at a popular ski resort and was hired, sight unseen.  I guess hospitality workers must be hard to find!  She bought an airplane ticket and made it happen.  I remember going with her when she closed her bank account.  The banker, a young man who appeared to be only slightly older than her, told her how lucky she was.  I reminded her that she wasn’t lucky; she had made the decision and she was making it happen.  I had a mixture of emotions which ranged from pride to fear.  When her dad decided to fly there with her, I cried.   With my independent streak, it had never even occurred to me to do so.  She was mortified, of course, but I was grateful that he had taken that extra step to help her ease into her transition given the sometimes sinister deceptions on the internet.

She met a lot of different people while working in Utah.  Many of them were college educated yet not ready to grow up.  She didn’t have the benefit of much college yet, but she was receiving a most valuable education!  The first place she lived was in the worker housing with two roommates that she had been placed with.  The room was not included in the employment offer; they had to pay out of each check.  For anyone who has done any time in a barracks or college dorm room, I think you get the idea.  You end up living with people you don’t know and you learn how to deal with all types.  I watched in awe as she took advantage of all the amenities Utah had to offer.   After a couple years, she moved with a friend to Texas.  Four years wiser and infinitely more street savvy, she returned to her roots bringing with her a sassy feline companion.  I was thrilled to have her back home with me for almost a year as she transitioned back to the area and continued to do amazing things.

Six years from the time she first moved out, I look at the things she has done and what she continues to do.  She is preparing to buy her first home and get married to a wonderful and ambitious young man.  She’s working her way through college and dabbling in different careers.   She’s learned that you can’t run away from yourself; unfortunately, your problems go with you.  She left home a surly teenager and came back a grateful, positive, street-wise and confident young lady.

My beautiful daughter is in transition so I sit here today with her cat, who I am fostering, until she gets settled into her new home.  I have not been able to instill the same independence in the cat.  Though it is a common perception that cats are independent creatures, just listen to the squalls when you fail to put kibbles in their dish at the appointed time!  I have found myself obsessing over the cat just a bit too often these days so I’m trying to focus on my writing instead.   I will miss them both as they get settled into their next phase (to see what happened to the cat, read Eviction Papers Served-Launch Lady Style ) I think my firstborn now understands that I didn’t want her money.  What I wanted was her happiness and her respect, and I’m very grateful to have experienced both.

 

Adulting, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Uncategorized

The Devil: An Unlikely Teacher

mask-2014554_640

I just finished reading the book “Outwitting The Devil” which was originally written in 1938 by Napoleon Hill. Because of the controversial material that was presented, the manuscript was withheld from publication until long after Napoleon’s death.  The book was finally released by the Napoleon Hill Foundation in 2011 and it was annotated by Sharon Lechter.   I found the book fascinating and filled with information that is just as thought provoking today as it was 80 years ago when it was written!   I will focus on passages that I found most relevant to our children. The Devil’s claim is that the religious systems as well as the educational systems work together to cause our children to drift and to discourage them from thinking for themselves.

The book is primarily a question and answer series in which Napoleon queries the Devil on a wide range of topics that are relevant to living a successful life.  It does not matter whether Napoleon is speaking to THE Devil, or whether he has cleverly arranged his collection of personal wisdom into an attention grabbing two-way dialogue; you will find much food for thought. Though some of the information is duplicated in Hill’s more famous book, “Think and Grow Rich”, it is important enough to endure the redundancy.

I do not write to undermine the efforts and expertise of excellent teachers in either the academic or religious arenas.  I am sure that most would acknowledge that they do not like the constraints that they must adhere to while influencing America’s youth.  As a parent looking to the past, I see how I could’ve helped my children focus more on some of the core truths of life.  I can’t change what I did or didn’t do,

Following are direct quotes from either Mr. Hill or his Devil. My commentary is found in the bullet points.

“…Parents owe their children everything they can give them in the way of knowledge.  Beyond that, parents often spoil their offspring by a false sense of duty which prompts them to indulge their children instead of forcing them to seek and gain knowledge at first hand.”**

  • Today, I am reflecting on the “launching” of my second and final daughter. My feelings vacillate between guilt and exhilaration. Her imminent relocation causes me a mixture of sadness, excitement and victory.  The prevailing emotions are the excitement that her future will bring and the victory that this phase of my parenting has been completed successfully.  While I do feel a bit of guilt for my part in thrusting her into the great unknown, I know that she will learn far more outside of my care than she would ever learn from her safe place at home.  I pledge to always share the knowledge of my experience with her even while she is learning to navigate life without me.

“…Unearned gifts of every nature may become a curse instead of a blessing*

  • This point makes me think of this week’s news story about the 30-year-old man who is being evicted from his parents’ home. I’m sure that his parents never imagined that the “unearned gift” of physically sheltering their grown son would turn into a contentious and public legal battle.

 Why aren’t children taught definiteness of purpose in the public schools?”*

  • According to the Devil, school is a place to memorize facts and earn credits. I appreciate the opportunities for the education I was given.  However, many of the facts that I memorized and subsequently forgot have not helped me in my daily pursuit of living.  (Note to math haters: I do still use algebra).  It has taken me many years past my formal education to hone in on my definite purpose.  Definiteness of purpose can be found though reading and participating in a variety of activities.  We can help our children find theirs by looking for their natural gifts and guiding them towards pursuits that harmonize with those gifts.

Ideas are the beginning of all human achievement.  Teach all students how to recognize practical ideas that may be of benefit in helping them acquire whatever they demand of life”.  **

  • Never stop yourself or your child from imagining. Every conceivable invention that is used to make our lives easier began as an idea in the mind of someone.  Google Maps, FaceTime, cell phones, personal computers, and televisions are used by most of us each day.  What if the parents of the inventors of these items had squelched their ideas?  Try to nurture fresh new ideas with “how can you” rather than “you cannot”.

“Teach the student the basic motives by which all people are influenced and show how to use these motives in acquiring the necessities and the luxuries of life.”**

  • Everyone needs to learn how to sell. Even though every person is not a professionally trained salesperson, we all have something to sell each day.  As an employment candidate, we need to use a resume’ to sell ourselves as the best candidate for a job. As a person looking to choose a mate, what do we have to offer that another potential suitor might not?  As a parent, we may try to sell the idea that choosing broccoli over chips is good for the body.  If your child doesn’t know what to study in school, encourage him to study salesmanship.

 “Teach children the difference between temporary defeat and failure, and show them how to search for the seed of an equivalent advantage which comes with every defeat.”**

  • I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. It is not always easy to tell what the reason may be, but I always try to learn the lesson.  Every mistake I have made has planted inside me an inexorable seed of wisdom.  The value of this wisdom is far greater than if I had simply done everything I was told just because I was told to do so.
  • I would also want my children to understand that failure comes in more than one form.  The failure to try is far worse than trying something new and not succeeding.  Risk aversion can cheat us out of living our best life by not allowing us to take the next step forward.

“Teach children to reach decisions promptly and to change them, if at all, slowly and with reluctance, and never without a definite reason.”**

  • This one is still difficult for me personally. I am a proponent of the “Love and Logic” philosophy of parenting. https://www.loveandlogic.com    The premise is that a child should be given lots of opportunities to make decisions from the time they are young and then allow the consequences to be the teacher when the stakes are minimal.  This habit of making every day small decisions will provide confidence to make the big decisions when also armed with pertinent information, thought and sometimes collaborative discussion.

 “Teach children the true nature of the Golden Rule, and above all show them that through the operation of this principle, everything they do to and for another they do also to and for themselves.”**

  • This quote reminds me of a complementary quote from the late Zig Ziglar. “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” The other thing that comes up for me is that when I went back to college as an adult about 10 years ago, I took multiple classes on religion and philosophy.  I can’t tell you all of the theories and distinctions between each philosopher.  My take away was that regardless of the philosophical or religious message, it all boiled down to the Golden Rule to treat others the way we wish to be treated.

“Teach children the danger of believing anything merely because their parents, religious instructor, or someone else said it is so.”**

  • My personal motto it “trust but verify”. I, like many people, always believed what my parents and those in authority taught me was absolute truth.  What I have since realized is that what I was taught was their truth as they believed at the time.

“Teach children that their only real limitations are those which they set up or permit others to establish in their own minds.”**

  • I can relate to this one. I have gone through life with self-imposed limits up until this point.  These limits are firmly entrenched over a lifetime.  Sometimes I look at others and wonder how they got to be where they are and have what they have.  Did they have more advantages and more connections than me?   That is quite possibly the truth. But it is not the complete truth.  What I may have lacked in personal advantage I have made up for in stubborn persistence.  Every day, I work to free myself from my prison of perception.  My daughter, recently armed with her business degree, will be moving very soon to a town that doesn’t have an abundant variety of jobs. I encourage her to refuse to be limited by the help wanted ads to find her livelihood. I implore her to speak her truth and immerse herself in her passion. Though the non-profit she is interested in is not local, I do not want her to assume that she cannot find a way to contribute to the cause that is so important to her.

“Teach children that all schoolhouses and all textbooks are elementary implements which may be helpful in the development of their minds, but that the only school of real value is the great University of Life wherein one has the privilege of learning from experience,”**

  • I went back to college in my forties to complete my formal education. What I realized as an adult student was that no matter how much I learned, it was merely the tip of the iceberg.  When I finally finished my formal education, I just knew I was done learning. Following a few years of stagnation, I discovered the folly of my thinking.  My more mature and wiser self realizes that learning is truly a lifelong pursuit. My classroom learning days may be over, but I choose to learn until the end of my time.   Thinking is a gift which, when done consistently, can propel one towards their definite major purpose. Provide situations to imbed this worthy gift into your children.

The points I have chosen were few compared to what I found in the book.  I didn’t intend to regurgitate as much as I did directly from the book, but it was so hard to choose since there were so many relevant points!  While our current educational system may not have the flexibility to incorporate the suggested changes, parents have the power to introduce them into daily life. Consider private schooling or home schooling.  Ultimately, we all have the primary control to shape the minds of our own children.

*Direct quote from Napoleon Hill

**Direct quote from Napoleon Hill’s Devil