Thursday, July 07, 2011

Are You Too Picky?

It used to be that if you were good at one thing, that was enough. It basically determined your path in life. If you were good with your hands, you were deemed "mechanical" and destined to work in a trade of some sort. If you liked math, and were a guy, then most likely you became an engineer. If you were highly verbal, loved school, and had a nurturing disposition (and you were a girl), then you became a teacher - like me.

No, I'm not stereotyping or trying to hold anyone back. I'm not trying to limit the opportunities available to all our children. Well, maybe I am just a little bit.

There's a reason for that.

Right now only about 24% of college graduates found a job upon graduation. That means that most of this generation have either moved back in with mom and dad or have taken a job outside of what they spent all that tuition money on.

In 1970 only about 40% of high school graduates went to college; today more than 70% go to college.

I grew up believing I could do anything I wanted - even though I was a girl! I brought my boys up to believe the same thing. There's nothing wrong with that, except our kids now aren't sure about what they want to do at all. They waiver between majors and change their minds a million times. Their path is uncertain, which is odd, because the opportunities are many.

And I think that's the problem.

Kids do better with choices. That's parenting 101. But if you remember, the idea is to offer 2 choices and have them choose one of them and stick with it. If they're given a hundred choices, they become paralyzed and don't make a decision at all.

My sister was like that when we went to McDonald's as kids. She would stand there frozen in front of the menu high up on the wall behind the cashiers. The rest of the family (all 6) waited impatiently for her to decide. It always ended up with mom and dad frustrated and my sister in tears. Often she didn't eat at all.

Two kinds of people have trouble with a myriad of choices - those who like everything and those who don't like anything.

Sometimes you have to help your kids make the important choices. What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you go to college? If so, where? These are important choices, but for some of our kids, they are painfully difficult. Too many choices is not a good thing. Having a child who is good at everything is NOT a blessing.

The best thing you can do for your kids is to help them make that choice. And guess what? If they hate it, it's not the end of the world. They can always make another choice.

When students agonize over what to do with their lives, I tell them this - "Whatever choice you make now is not forever. God willing you will live long enough to do many different things in this life. Just make your FIRST choice. That's all - your first choice."

It takes the pressure off - of both of you.