September 8, 2011

For the latest news....

please go to, which is where I'll be posting from now on.

Feel free to search this blog's archives for news and links from the past year.

August 2, 2011

Debt Ceiling Bill Adds to Student Loan Burden for Grad Students

Thanks to the new debt ceiling deal, grad students will end up paying thousands of dollars more on their student loans in order to finance Pell Grants for low-income undergrad students.

Why does the federal government want to charge grad students for the tuition of undergrads? According to the article:

"Full funding for Pell Grants is absolutely essential to fulfilling the president's goal of the U.S. once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020," said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success.
Why is it so important to have the most college grads in the world when the U.S. government has already predicted that over 80% of the fastest-growing and most-common occupations of the future will not require a bachelor's degree or higher?

July 25, 2011

New Review is Up

A new review of Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality states:

"Rest assured this book is a really good resource for all parents."

Want specifics? Read the entire review HERE.

July 18, 2011

Why Your Kids Can't Find Summer Jobs

Working a summer job is one of the best ways for teens to prepare for the future. Learning to work for others and developing a good work ethic are valuable skills that will help them throughout their lives. The pay is just a bonus.

But this summer, teens are having a terrible time finding jobs. The bad economy deserves a lot of blame, but there's another factor that deserves blame, too.

July 11, 2011

Across the Pond, Trades vs. McJobs vs. College is Discussed

Just as in America, more British people are wondering how to prepare their kids for the future and where the best prospects for the future are likely to be found. This article describing how the CEO of McDonald's has suggested many kids should work at her company instead of going to college is interesting, but it's the discussion in the comments section that's really illuminating. It shows that the debate we need to have in this country is already going on in Great Britain.

July 4, 2011

iPads for Kids: a Necessity?

The Chicago Public Schools recently spent $450,000 to provide nearly two dozen schools with 32 iPads each. Judging from this article, the kids aren't really doing anything with their iPads that couldn't be done with a teacher. But school administrators are hopeful that this will prepare kids for the future.

Do your kids need an iPad? I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Kids are very good at picking up computer skills whenever they're introduced to them. So if your kids don't get near an iPad until they're older, they won't have missed out on anything. But a 5-year-old who spends hours on an iPad every day is missing out on what 5-year-olds should be doing, like playing outside, making art and learning about the world around them. How about getting the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) down before becoming addicted to technology? After all, technology is not the only topic our kids will need to be well-versed on.

June 27, 2011

Is College a Scam?

The media has been slowly drawing attention to the problems with our system of colleges and universities, and the question of whether students are being educated or scammed. Here's a video from the National Inflation Association that does a good job of spelling out just what's going on in both higher education and our government. You might not agree with all of it but it will give you a lot of food for thought.

June 20, 2011

Thriving Through Mastery

I'm not crazy about the title of this wonderful article by Gary North, "Time to Get Rich." I think it misleads the reader into thinking it's another of those smarmy get-rich-quick articles, and it's nothing like that. In fact, it explains the opposite: how young people can invest time in mastering certain skills so that they benefit throughout their lives.  It's certainly worth your time if you're a parent who's concerned about raising children who will thrive in the new economy!

June 13, 2011

Can Your Kids Communicate?

No, it’s not what you think. I’m sure your kids can talk, chatter, question, and occasionally demand (mine sure could!)…..the question is, can your kids communicate calmly and clearly so that they can be understood? So that they don’t come across as rude or demanding? So that they can get along with people and even defend their faith?

How about email? Can they write emails that will make sense, come across politely and not make them look bad? Many employers say most of their recent-college-grad employees have difficulty communicating properly. How can you teach your children to be the exceptions to that rule?

Learn more about effective communication for the 21st century in a podcast I recently recorded with JoJo Tabares of Art of Eloquence. JoJo is a whiz at explaining how to raise children who communicate well, and why it’s so important that you do so.

June 10, 2011

Has Outsourcing Come Full Circle?

A recent study found that Indian companies have begun outsourcing call center work to another country: the U.S.

Apparently our high unemployment rate has resulted in a large pool of workers willing to work in call centers for $10-12 an hour, and India's dramatic growth has made hiring cheap overseas labor a necessity.

I think we'll see more of this as wages around the globe fall into alignment in the global economy.

June 7, 2011

Jobs Do Not Equal Security

The U.S. job market continues to flounder; when we do have growth, it's very weak. While this article suggests that the Japanese tsunami and earthquake may be partly to blame, the fact is that this is an ongoing weakness and the hallmark of a shaky economy.

No one is predicting that this problem will be solved anytime soon. Some believe it's a systemic problem with no easy answers. So our children will likely enter adulthood in an economy where the phrase "job security" is an oxymoron.

What can we do? We can raise entrepreneurial children who understand how to develop a side income, and help them become financially savvy so that they know how to stretch the dollars they earn. I cover those subjects in great depth in Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality.

June 5, 2011

A Winning Combination: Children, Computers and Time

(excerpted from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality)

Ultimately, schools have enough on their plates teaching children the three R’s; adding a requirement for insuring that children become computer-literate can often overwhelm even the best schools. So if children don’t learn to use computers in school, where can they learn this vital skill?

My experience has been that children are very capable of teaching themselves to use a computer at home. We bought our first computer when our older children were 11 and 9. My husband used it each evening after work, learning the design software that would eventually allow him to start his own business. That’s why our children were only allowed on the computer during the day. I quickly learned that they would stay on there all day if I let them, so we established the 45-minutes-per-day rule, enforced by a kitchen timer on top of the monitor.

Before long, our older children had taught themselves all about how to use the computer. Once we began accessing the Internet, they designed their own Web sites. They soon needed more computer time than they were allowed, so each saved up and bought their own computer. Our daughter started a Web zine about music, attracting a following of kids who shared her interest. Our son ran a Web site about his favorite major league baseball player; his site was later written up in Baseball Weekly. They achieved this level of proficiency after only a few years of using the computer, and each was entirely self-taught. (They later took a few online courses to hone their computer skills.)

They (and, a few years later, their younger sister) quickly became more proficient in computer basics than I have yet to become after many years of computer use. Our fourth child, who has developmental disabilities, is not as computer-literate as the others were at his age (that is partly due to his limited reading ability), but he can find and start different educational games on our computer without assistance. My point here is that all four were given access to a basic computer and the time to experiment with it. Based on their success, I believe it’s up to parents and the kids themselves, not the schools, to produce computer-literate children. Parents should provide the computer and the time. Given that opportunity, the children will take over from there.

One reason children pick up the computer so quickly is that they’re more willing to explore the computer and press keys without worrying that they’ll mess up something. We adults are often hampered by that fear, so it may take us longer to learn how to use a computer. While we sit flipping through a tutorial book plotting our next move, they’ve already clicked back and forth between screens and figured out what to do (and what not to do).

Of course, they do make mistakes in the process, and sometimes lose information they had painstakingly put in there. But once they become more proficient than their parents, they realize that it’s up to them to solve the problem, and they learn to do so.

I think the fact that I couldn’t come running to my children’s rescue each time the computer “ate” something important forced them to figure things out for themselves; they learned pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be much help, no matter how good my intentions. They became fearless when it came to using the computer, which helped them become computer troubleshooters for the rest of the family.

June 1, 2011

Gardening is an Essential Skill for the Future

If you're a gardener, by now your seedlings are likely in the ground and poised for growth. Did you include your children when you planted your seedlings? Teaching children how to garden is excellent preparation for adulthood in the new economy. Knowing how to grow and preserve your own food is a very valuable skill for people who are between jobs and limited on funds.

An added incentive is that many of our food sources are now questionable. We can't control how food is grown in other countries. Produce is often coated with chemicals and/or irradiated to prepare it for long-distance shipping. And in extreme cases like the current situation in Europe, imported food can kill you.

Growing your own food eliminates all those risks. Kids love to garden; why not teach yours how to do so?

May 24, 2011

Resources for Questions About College in the 21st Century

If you have children who want to attend college, or children whom you want to attend college (there is a difference), you'll need to be as prepared as possible to navigate the increasingly complicated process of making the college decision. Economist Gary North has prepared a webpage with an assortment of very helpful and thought-provoking links. Check it out HERE.

May 20, 2011

Math is Important for Home-Grown Jobs

You don't have to go far to find that many young people have few if any math skills. Try giving a young cashier $20.06 for a bill that's $14.56 so that you can get a fiver plus two quarters back. They'll usually give you a look like you came from Mars. They'll have no idea why you're doing what you're doing until they type in the amount tendered and receive instructions from the computerized cash register telling them how much change to give you.

That lack of math skills is why many people are calling for increased math study in American schools. But another good reason is that while there are some jobs available in our still-struggling manufacturing sector, they require workers who are good at math. These jobs are open, right now, and need smart young people to fill them. In most cases, no college degree is required. But you've got to be able to do math.

May 16, 2011

The Evidence Piles Up Against Attending College

I'm not saying no one should go to college. Here's what I say in Thriving in the 21st Century:

You now know that the greatest amount of job growth is predicted in areas that don’t require college, that most kids who attend college don’t graduate in four years and many don’t graduate at all, that college is getting more expensive by the minute and that borrowing to pay those high college costs can have lifelong consequences. You also know now that having a college degree does not guarantee a high income…or any income at all.

Knowing these things, if you still think your child should go to college, please think hard about the following questions and whether you can answer “yes” to most of them:

• Is your child very intelligent and hardworking?

• Does your child have his/her heart set on a career that can only be accessed with a college diploma in hand?

• Of the careers that require at least some college education, is your child interested in one that offers the best return on the considerable college investment?

• Has your child thoroughly researched the chosen career, including talking to employers in the field to see what kind of education they require, and graduates in the chosen program to see if they’re a) employed and b) satisfied?

• Is your child’s choice of major/career one that’s likely to be in demand by employers? (Just because a college offers a major doesn’t necessarily mean that major is in demand by employers. There’s no correlation between number of majors and number of available jobs.)

• Is your child’s choice of major/career one that can be used in more than one industry? (Example: business administration)

• Is your child’s choice of major/career one that will be difficult or impossible to off-shore (as opposed to an area of study that’s currently being chosen by millions of smart young people from China and India)?

• Does your child’s chosen college or university have a reputation for academic excellence?

• Will your child be able to graduate debt-free? In an economy where wages are stagnating and periods of unemployment or time between careers is common, living debt-free will be a major asset as well as a source of emotional peace.

• If your child will need some student loan funding, does he or she plan to earn a degree that is likely to help them earn enough to pay back their debt within a few years (there are no guarantees)?

Regarding the last question, keep in mind that the debt will have to be paid back during a time when wages most likely will continue to stagnate. As a result, college loan repayments could eat up the lion’s share of your child’s future paychecks.

“Yes” answers to most of these questions indicate that you have a child who is motivated to go to college and willing to do what it takes to earn a degree in a field with good prospects for personal satisfaction as well as employment. If you don’t have enough money saved up for the entire four (or more) years, consider sending your child for two years of general education courses at a community college, after which your child can transfer to a four-year college. This is a time-honored plan, and for good reason: it saves a lot of money on tuition and room and board, plus you’ll send a more mature person off to college. Also, if your child’s chosen field of study will require graduate courses, the money you save by sending him/her to community college the first two years can help defray the cost of graduate studies later on.

If you can’t answer “yes” to most of the questions listed above, consider whether college is really the answer for your child. Try to ignore the common wisdom of the 20th century that was drummed into your head, the refrain that insisted that the only sure route to success requires a college diploma, because times have changed.
So I'm not against college, but I think it's clear that college is not for everyone or even for most people. Between its high cost and the questionable need for a degree for employment in areas of job growth, there's a lot of evidence on my side, and it's piling up:

More college grads are settling for low-wage jobs

More college grads are having trouble paying back their student loans

An economist argues that college is not a bubble, it's a "tax-subsidized failure"

See what I mean?

May 13, 2011

Accepting Reality

I began writing Thriving in the 21st Century because I was trying to figure out what was going on as I watched the industry that my husband had worked in for 30 years move overseas, leaving him without work or an income. I also wanted to know how to prepare our children for this new economy we have found ourselves in.

Six years later, I'm ready for the future and I feel like my kids are prepared for it too. But I meet other parents who, once they start putting together the pieces of their own experiences and those of their friends and relatives, become pessimistic about what's going on and what it means for our children's future.

If that's how you feel, you need a dose of reality tinged with optimism. Check out Seth Godin's posts on this topic (Post 1 and Post 2) and you'll feel better.

May 9, 2011

The Supposed College Advantage, UK-Style

Over in Great Britain, college is pushed as the way to make more money, just as it is here in the U.S. This article is typical of the hype. What's really interesting, however, are the comments. People are finally realizing that in the new global economy, not everyone will need a college degree, and most people can't afford one.

May 4, 2011

Teaching Children to be Frugal: A Necessary Skill for the 21st Century

(excerpted from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality)

‘Tis a Gift to Be Frugal

Good old Ben also praised frugality:

In short, the Way to Wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two Words, INDUSTRY and FRUGALITY: i.e. Waste neither Time nor Money, but make the best Use of both. He that gets all he can honestly, and saves all he gets (necessary Expences excepted) will certainly become RICH: If that Being who governs the World, to whom all should look for a Blessing on their honest Endeavors, doth not in his wise Providence otherwise determine.
You’ll give your children a great advantage by training them to be frugal. The word “frugal” has negative connotations for some people, but even 200 years ago, smart people like Benjamin Franklin knew that being frugal is an asset. Let’s clarify what frugal means: being careful with expenditures, not buying things you don’t really need, and taking care of what you do have. It doesn’t mean being cheap; in fact, people who only buy cheap goods usually end up spending more time and money replacing those cheap goods when they fall apart. A frugal person can recognize quality, and knows that a quality item lasts much longer than its “cheap” counterpart. (See “Teaching Children to Recognize and Appreciate Quality” on page 364.)

To be frugal is to be thrifty. Thrift was once considered a positive attribute, falling out of favor when America became a society of consumers in the mid-20th century. But there are still frugal people around; their thriftiness helped some of them become rich.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton and his wife began married life by living very frugally. They cut expenses as low as possible, bought used furniture (items no one else bid on) at auctions, and only ate at restaurants when they could eat dinner for 50 cents (this was during the 1930s). They did these things in order to stick to their goal of saving 50% of their income. In The Templeton Plan, co-author James Ellison explains,

The fact is, however, that John Templeton was not poor even then. He had a good income and a solid investment portfolio that was steadily growing. Some acquaintances might have regarded his approach to money, housing and the conveniences of life as somewhat eccentric, if not socially unacceptable. After all, the circles that Templeton, the investment counselor, frequented were characterized by big money, big houses, big cars, and big consumer spending in general. But Templeton was not one to live by society’s more superficial values. He followed his own inner dictates and his developing religious beliefs. footnote

And so a radical philosophy of thrift became a deeply rooted part of Templeton’s way of life. He became convinced that success was closely connected to saving, a belief that he has never stopped practicing.
Templeton was not the only wealthy person whose fortune was due in part to thrift. In his ground-breaking books based on his study of American millionaires, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley wrote that despite the stereotype of the free-spending, luxurious millionaire lifestyle we see portrayed in movies and television shows, many millionaires are actually very careful about how they spend money. They also use strategies such as clipping coupons, refinishing and repairing possessions instead of buying everything new, and buying in bulk. In The Millionaire Mind, Dr. Stanley noted:

People in my audiences often ask why a millionaire would clip coupons. It’s not just to save fifty cents today—it’s how much can be saved and invested over a lifetime. The typical affluent family in America spends over $200 a week for food and household supplies. That’s more than $10,000 per year. During an adult lifetime in current dollars, it translates to between $400,000 and $600,000. If you cut off just 5 percent of this amount, between $20,000 and $30,000, and invest it in a top-ranked equity fund, given the rate of return during the past few years the amount earned would have been $500,000. (96)
I’m not suggesting that all or even many of our children will become wealthy by being frugal (though if you teach your child to be frugal and he grows up to be a millionaire, he’ll handle the money better than most would). But the frugal millionaires Stanley studied illustrate the wisdom of being frugal and investing the money saved by being that way.

Teaching frugality to our children will benefit them once they’re grown up and making their way in the global economy. They’ll learn to live simply, thus experiencing less financial stress in the future. In a world where they’ll often be between jobs, frugality could make the difference between financial stability and financial trouble. As writer Charles Jaffe once said, “It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.”

April 22, 2011

"The Economic Folly of a College Degree"

Finally, more people are admitting that a college degree is not the guarantee for future success that so many people thought it was. Take this op-ed piece, for instance. The author explains that even citizens of other countries are seeing that a college degree does not make a person smart or hardworking. I'm glad to see that more writers are sharing this information because, as I explain in Thriving in the 21st Century, most of our children will not need a college degree in the new economy.

April 19, 2011

Book Site Up and Running

Now that Thriving in the 21st Century has been published, you can read a couple of excerpts from the book, view the table of contents, and learn more about the book itself right here. Check it out!

April 15, 2011

Teens' Unemployment Rate Now 25%

Working teens get an education that they could never receive at school or home. They learn a variety of skills in addition to working for someone besides their parents. The pay is just a bonus. All teens should work.

But it's getting harder for them to find jobs. A recent study found that 1/4 of today's teens ages 16-19 can't find work. This is a shame, as they're missing out on learning so many things that they'll need to know as adults.

If your teen can't find a job, encourage him or her to create a job by finding unmet needs in your neighborhood. Many a teen has made good money by washing cars, walking dogs or watering gardens.

April 12, 2011

Takers or Makers?

In Thriving in the 21st Century, I ask the question, "Do you want your children to be producers or consumers?" This is a serious question. Given the changes in our economy, I think children trained to be producers will have the best chance of being able to support themselves as adults in the rapidly changing economy of the 21st century.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal makes the same point, but gets very specific about why this concept is so important, and how our economy has been negatively affected by the shift from production to consumption. Instead of referring to producers and consumers, the author refers to "takers" and "makers," but the basic concept is the same: an economy that primarily consists of consumers is doomed.

April 7, 2011

Now Available: Thriving in the 21st Century

Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality is now available in print for $13.95 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as bookstores everywhere.

Here's a look at the Table of Contents:


Section 1
How the American World of Work Has Changed
Technological Advances
A Renewed Global Economy and Changing Living Standards
Learning From the Past
America’s History of Self-Sufficiency
What About the Schools?
Before We Begin
Likely Future Trends in the World of Work
Preparing Our Children for This New Economic Reality

Section 2
The Seven Strengths Your Children Will Need to Thrive in the 21st Century
Strength #1: Creativity and Innovation
Strength #2: Entrepreneurial/Self-Starter
Strength #3: Computer-Literate
Strength #4: Communication Skills
Strength #5: Empathy and Concern for Others
Strength #6: Self-Sufficiency and Practical Skills
Strength #7: Money Smarts

Section 3
Giving Our Children the Advantages of the Seven Strengths

Section 4
Self-Employment and Family Businesses

What Schools Don’t Do
What Parents Should Do
What Parents Should Not Do
What Parents Can Do

Appendix A: It’s OK for Children to Get Bored…Really!
Appendix B: Teaching Children to Recognize and Appreciate Quality
Appendix C: President Obama vs. the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Stay tuned for excerpts!

April 5, 2011

Entrepreneurial Kids Finding Success

The high unemployment rate of the past few years has been particularly hard on teens, who are at the age where they're eager to get started on their working lives.

These teens decided to be proactive by starting their own businesses, and the results they've gotten will encourage your teens. Send them the article link; it may be just the inspiration needed to get going on a dream.

April 1, 2011

The Antidote to Unemployment

Unemployment rates continue to rise in all the largest American cities; the worst areas seem to be those hit hardest by the bursting of the housing bubble.

One of the best ways to counteract the loss of income due to losing your job is having a side business. Even a small regular income can make life much easier.

Do you have a side business? If not, why not start one and get your kids involved in it? It's a great way to prepare them for survival in a rapidly changing economy.

March 29, 2011

Real Wages Are Down

So we're off to a shaky start in 2011, with real wages down .5% last month. Actual wages remained the same, but thanks to inflation, higher consumer costs resulted in a decrease in real wages.

Two reminders here: wages are not increasing as they once were, and inflation is making it harder for people to stretch their dollars. This is why it's so important that we raise kids with money smarts. It's a life skill that's becoming more necessary all the time.

March 25, 2011

College Administrators Weigh In at Speech

Last week I spoke to a group of 75 parents up in Green Bay regarding Thriving in the 21st Century. My favorite part, as always, was talking with everyone afterwards.

The event was held at a tech college; one of the administrators there told me how they tailor the certificates they offer to the skills that local employers are looking for. She said she tried to get her children to look into obtaining those certificates, but they chose to go off to college instead and now she has three adult children back home with her again.

Another parent who happens to be a vice president of a nearby private college took issue with some of my comments regarding the need for college degrees in the new economy, but after a pleasant discussion we discovered that we're on the same page about many things. He even told me that he recently expelled two students for their own good, since they weren't doing well despite their best efforts. I told him I wish all college personnel had his ethics, because in researching my book I found that many college administrations pursue students without concern for whether they can do the work. It's all about the money.

BTW my book is now at the printers and should be out in early April. Look for excerpts to be posted here soon.

March 22, 2011

It's All About Jobs

The housing market has still not recovered. In fact, new home sales are at a 47-year low. Increasingly, the jobs situation is being blamed for the slow housing market. There are too many unemployed people; not only can they not buy houses, but their large numbers makes those who are employed afraid to buy houses, because they worry that they could be the next to lose their jobs.

This long stretch of unemployment is caused by more than just the poor economy. Many of the jobs have been lost to automation or off-shoring and aren't coming back. We can't tell our children to aim for a single career. They'll have to be versatile and self-reliant in order to support themselves.

March 18, 2011

Inspiration for Young Entrepreneurs

It's one thing to encourage our children to have an entrepreneurial mindset. It's another to get them fired up about it.

Here are interviews with 25 young entrepreneurs who have already experienced success. Each shares the details of the business they created. Have your teens read some of these interviews. They'll gain ideas and enthusiasm for starting their own businesses.

March 15, 2011

The Jobs Situation Continues to Change

One morning this week, I heard a radio news report announcing that the government announced there was an increase in new jobs last month. Just as I was thinking, "They'll adjust those numbers downward in a few weeks like they always do," I happened to see this online: "Announced U.S. Job Cuts Rose 20% From Year Ago, Challenger Says."

Our job situation in the U.S. is so tenuous these days, with jobs being created and disappearing at a faster pace than ever. It's not like the old days, where a person held a job for 40 years with one company and retired with a gold watch and a nice pension. Our kids will work in a much different world than their parents or grandparents did. And we need to prepare them for that reality.

March 11, 2011

A Young Man on the Right Track

Here's a great story about a young man who, in addition to his studies, has developed a popular website using modern technology. He's proactive and is pursuing a personal interest while gaining skills that will serve him well in the future. He uses social media to find the information he needs to be a good source of information for others. With the skills he's developing, he could eventually excel in several different areas. At 16, he's on his way to thriving in the 21st century.

March 8, 2011

Communication Skills Are Key

In Thriving in the 21st Century, I share a wide variety of resources for parents who want their children to be prepared for the 21st century world of work.

One excellent resource for teaching kids communications skills, which are so important, is Art of Eloquence. It offers speech and debate resources for all age groups. Check it out HERE.

March 2, 2011

Book Update

Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children For The New Economic Reality is at the printer; we're awaiting the delivery of proof copies this week. The book will be out in April!

Newbies to this site may not know that I began investigating the changes in the economy several years ago, when my husband's manufacturing-related business began slowing down due to increasing competition in his industry from China. Once I realized how much the economy was changing, I began to study how to prepare our children for a very different world of work than the one my generation had known; my study led me to write this book.

Here's the back cover copy for Thriving in the 21st Century:

Today’s children will reach adulthood in an economic environment unlike anything the world has ever seen. The 21st century global economy is powered by an increasing rate of technological change as well as growing foreign competition; both are contributing to the high U.S. unemployment rate and stagnating American wages. How can we as parents prepare our children for success in this growing maelstrom that many are now calling “the new normal”?

In Thriving in the 21st Century, Barbara Frank demonstrates that we must move beyond the common wisdom of the 20th century that emphasized a college diploma and lifelong employment with a large company as the only way to success. Instead, we need to set our children on a new path, one that will help them not just survive, but thrive in the 21st century.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • The Seven Strengths your child will need to prosper in the 21st century, why they’re needed and how you can develop them in your children
  • The most efficient (and increasingly popular) way to give your child those Seven Strengths
  • Why public education has failed to prepare our children for the 21st century
  • How we can help our children become the lifelong learners needed in a rapidly changing global economy
  • The surprising truth about today’s colleges and universities
  • How economic change is affecting a variety of career areas, and which of them are projected to grow dramatically in the coming years.

This book is packed with ideas and resources for raising our children to become adults who respond proactively when faced with economic challenges, and who can prosper during times of great change. We can help our children reach young adulthood ready and able to tackle the future with all its challenges. And that, of course, is the key: we must prepare our children for the future…not the past.

I'll share more information as it becomes available. Keep an eye on this site!

February 25, 2011

Is Your Head in the Sand?

Sometimes it's easier to ignore something than to face the reality of it.

For example, there are all sorts of changes going on in our economy (and in the world) right now that are going to dramatically change the world of work. Yet many people are in denial, and would prefer to think about which movie will win an Academy Award, or which celebrity is pregnant, than what's going on in the world and how they can prepare their children for it.

But look at a string of charts like this one and you can't deny that change is in the air. While the comments surrounding these charts may be a bit alarmist, the fact is that we're in very unstable economic weather right now.

Add to that the fact that the rate of technological change is increasing, and it becomes clear that our children will not work in the same kind of world we've known. We have to prepare them for an uncertain future.

February 22, 2011

Disappearing Jobs: What Will Happen Next?

Writer Andy Kessler posed the question "Is Your Job an Endangered Species?" in last Thursday's Wall Street Journal. His article and the accompanying comments may not completely answer that question, but they certainly pose some interesting additional questions.

We cannot know for certain which jobs will survive in the future and what kinds of new jobs will be created. In fact, many of the industries our children will work in have not yet come into being. But if we raise our kids with certain skills and mindsets, they will thrive in whatever job they can find....they may even create their own.

February 18, 2011

A House for the Price of a Car----Say What?

A recent article entitled "4 Bedrooms for the Price of 4 Wheels" is getting a lot of attention this week because it illustrates how low house prices have gotten in some areas of the country compared to the price of cars, which doesn't vary much geographically.

This story also illustrates the huge differences in how people in various parts of the country view this economy. If you live in an area where $40,000 is the going rate for a house, you've known about the economic difficulties we're having for quite some time. But if you live in an area where the average home price still tops $300,000, you may think of the recession as something that happened a few years ago and is long gone.

Nevertheless, the economic problems we have on a national level continue to cast a pall on our economic future. This is why it's so important to prepare your children for the new economy. Just because things are good where you live now doesn't mean they won't change, or that your children will stay in your area.

February 15, 2011

More Warnings About College

Struggling with the idea of not sending your child to college? This writer makes a case for it by crunching numbers. And this writer, an economics professor, explains the current trouble with college very succinctly:

The diploma serves as a screening device that allows businesses to narrow down the applicant pool quickly and almost without cost to the employer, but with a huge financial cost to the individual earning the diploma (often at least $100,000), and to society at large in the form of public subsidies.

What to do? It's an extremely personal decision between you and your child. For starters, you can determine your child's interests and talents to see if college will even be useful to him or her. If so, you'll need to do a lot of research because there are many options. Thanks to the Internet, your child can get a college education for free through self-study, though no degree would be involved. You and your child will have to decide if a degree is worth the considerable expense of college.

February 11, 2011

More Part-Time Jobs Being Created in the U.S.

Last week I posted about the low rate of full-time jobs being created in Britain; 97% of new jobs there are part-time.

Now a new study has found that 75% of the new jobs in the U.S. are part-time jobs. To make matters worse, only 5% of newly created jobs are considered high-wage ($17-$31 per hour) jobs. What does this mean for our kids? It means we had better prepare them for a world much different than the one we grew up in. My new book, Thriving in the 21st Century, explains just how to do that. Watch for it this spring!

February 8, 2011

Questioning the Need for a Degree

Questioning the need for everyone to earn a college degree in the new economy has hit the mainstream, with Harvard University's Graduate School of Education issuing a report stating that the push for "college for all" may actually hurt young people.

This contrasts strongly with President Barack Obama's 2009 State of the Union address, where he said:

...this country needs and values the talents of every American.  That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal:  by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

So who's right? Parents need to do their research and also determine if their children are college material. Given the high (and rising) cost of college, the decision is more crucial than ever.

February 4, 2011

Less Work for More People?

Across the pond, 97% of recently created jobs were part-time jobs. Here in the U.S. we're seeing a decrease in working hours, too, although not that extreme. Not yet, anyway.

Some believe this is just the beginning. Years ago, Jeremy Rifkin's The End of Work predicted this would happen. No one knows for sure what the future holds, but playing it safe seems prudent. If we teach our kids to handle money wisely and carefully, they'll be able to handle life on a small salary better than those who aren't taught to stretch a buck.

February 1, 2011

What Do Your Kids Love to Do?

What do your kids love to do? What are their interests, their passions? It's likely that doing the things they're good at could be the key to their future employment.

Sir Ken Robinson is a creativity expert who has studied successful, creative people. In his book The Element, he addresses the issue of helping kids find their talents and passions:

The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of ourselves on the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive as possible…..

Many people set aside their passions to pursue things they don’t care about for the sake of financial security. The fact is, though, that the job you took because it “pays the bills” could easily move offshore in the coming decade. If you have never learned to think creatively and to explore your true capacity, what will you do then?

More specifically, what will our children do if we continue to prepare them for life using the old models of education? It’s very possible that our children will have multiple careers over the course of their working lives, not simply multiple jobs. Many of them will certainly have jobs we haven’t conceived yet. Isn’t it therefore our obligation to encourage them to explore as many avenues as possible with an eye toward discovering their true talents and their true passions?

How do we, as parents, encourage our children to develop their talents and passions? By helping them when they ask for it, and then getting out of their way. Given the opportunity, young people can find their passions on their own.

January 28, 2011

When Kids Use the Internet for Research

Most kids know how to access Facebook, but do your kids know how to use the Internet for research? It's a skill that will help your children when they become adults, but it takes some knowledge and practice to do it well.

Kids may not learn this skill in school, but you can make sure your kids become knowledgeable by teaching them yourself. "When Kids Use the Internet for Research" is an article I wrote that includes the link to a wonderful website that will show your kids why it's so important to know how to do research on the Internet.

January 26, 2011

Are College Students Really Learning?

A new study indicates that college students' academic skills don't show much improvement by the end of the sophomore year. The sociologists conducting the study found that the students they studied weren't asked to do the kind of intensive work (large amounts of weekly reading and writing) that were once the hallmark of a college education. That could explain the lack of learning.

Yet college tuition continues to rise each year. Why should parents pay more for less?

January 24, 2011

Living the Good Life

Over the course of researching my new book, Thriving in the 21st Century, I sometimes got depressed when seeing all the indications that our kids will have to live very frugally in order to make it financially.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty frugal myself, but it's a choice I've made. I don't like to think my kids may be forced to live that way.

This interview with John Robbins is a great reminder that the attitude we take when we teach our kids to be money-smart is all important. Robbins' father was one of the original owners of Baskin-Robbins, and extremely wealthy. When he was a young man, Robbins chose to strike out on his own, renouncing his monetary inheritance and living very simply. He describes all the good things that happened because of that decision in his recent book, The New Good Life.

If we can raise our kids to live simply and be happy about it, we will have given them a great gift.

January 21, 2011

More College Grads are Looking for Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among college graduates is the highest it's been since 1970.

Traditionally, blue collar workers suffered most from layoffs and cutbacks during recessions. But this recession is different, and unemployed college grads are being blamed for driving the unemployment rate up higher than normal.

Some say our current situation is the new normal. Let's hope not. But unless you have pots of money or a highly motivated smart kid, you may want to rethink going along with the popular trend of "All kids must go to college."

January 17, 2011

Empathetic Workers are in Demand

The graphic that accompanies this article clearly shows that all areas of employment have been in decline in this country except "Education and Health Services":


It's the only area that has had positive employment (green) throughout the past two years. This is also where most of the projected job growth of the future is expected. And one of the Seven Strengths detailed in my upcoming book Thriving in the 21st Century is required for those who want to work in education and health services: Empathy.

Empathetic people make great teachers because they put themselves in their students' shoes in order to relate to them and to present concepts to them in a meaningful way. Empathetic people make great healthcare workers because they treat patients the way they would want to be treated.

If you can raise your kids to be empathetic, you'll make them more employable in the only big job growth area we Americans have going for us now and in the near future.

January 14, 2011

How Not to Raise Self-Reliant Kids

A Chinese-American mother (and Yale law professor) has written a book about her parenting philosophy that asserts that Western parenting is inferior to Chinese parenting. An excerpt from her book has created a stir on the Internet because her methods include browbeating her children to learn only what she wants them to learn. They have no autonomy; she calls the shots, even if it means keeping her 7-year-old up all night trying to master a piano-playing technique.

Regardless of what I think of her methods, my real concern is that she's raising kids who are accustomed to looking to her for orders instead of recognizing and pursuing their own interests. Self-reliance is a key survival skill for the 21st century; this woman is crippling her kids by forcing them to rely on her for everything.

January 12, 2011

Will Your Kids Earn Less Than You Do?

As we American workers compete in a global economy, it's only logical that wages will go down. After all, if your job pays $25 an hour and your competition in China is paid 32 cents an hour, you're eventually going to meet somewhere in the middle, which for you means your hourly wage will go down. It's happening already. Many people have seen their pay decrease, sometimes dramatically, over the past few years.

This means there's a good chance that your kids will someday make less than you do now. I could be wrong. But if you teach them how to handle money wisely and how to stretch a buck, they'll be prepared to handle low wages; if I'm wrong and they end up making high wages, they'll be able to save up a nice nest egg to take care of you in your old age.  :)

January 10, 2011

College Debt Slavery in America is On the Rise

Now that the federal government is in charge of most college student loan debt, expect more of these sad stories. And don't expect the government to understand and forgive:

To collect on federal loans, the Education Department can seize borrowers’ paychecks, tax refunds and Social Security payments without a court order -- as much as 15 percent of a borrower’s disposable income.

The department is currently authorized to collect tax refunds and Social Security from 3.4 million borrowers. About 98,000 borrowers are having their wages garnisheed, the agency said.

In part because of those powers and the laws discouraging bankruptcy discharge, the department estimates it will collect 100 percent of the dollar value of all defaulted student loans.
The result? As one woman said, "I'm going to be in debt until I die."

Many college grads cannot find work. The days when a college degree guaranteed a job are over. Think hard before you send your children to college unless you can afford it without putting them in debt.

January 7, 2011

Multi-Generational Living is Back

We're seeing more and more articles like this one describing how multiple generations of families are moving in together because they can no longer afford to live separately. It reminds me of the stories I heard from my grandparents about the Great Depression.

Even today, some multi-generation households are forming because of the current economic situation we're experiencing in the U.S. But this trend also reflects a cultural change that's the result of too many people spending money they didn't have by overloading their credit cards and borrowing against their homes to pay for goodies they really couldn't afford. Now the chickens have come home to roost.....Mom and Dad's home.

If you don't want to find yourself someday living with "boomerang" adult children, make sure your kids grow up knowing how to support themselves, how to handle money wisely, and how to earn a living and live within its limits.

They won't learn this through osmosis; it's up to you to teach them.

January 5, 2011

Are You Preparing Your Children to Work Around the World?

These days, American companies are creating more jobs overseas than in the U.S. As a result, many of our young people will find themselves traveling around the world for their work.

That's why they should learn to speak a foreign language (or two) while they're young, when additional languages are easiest to learn. Even if foreign languages aren't taught at your children's school, there are plenty of ways to help them pick up a language on the side, even as part of their play.

In my upcoming book, Thriving in the 21st Century, you'll find ideas for raising bilingual children who can work outside the U.S. if necessary....and it's becoming clear that for some of our children, it will be necessary.

January 3, 2011

Why You've Got to Teach Your Kids About Money

Money's tight for many people these days; even those who have good, well-paying jobs or businesses should be socking away money in case their fortunes change. This is a smart thing to do, and one reason why you'll want to teach your children to handle money wisely before they leave home.

Another good reason is that many companies are now running credit checks on their prospective employees. Some, like this woman, cannot find a job because, within a few months of losing her last job, she ran out of money to make her house payment and went into foreclosure. Now she can't save her house unless she gets a job, and she can't get a job because of her house.

Don't let your kids be caught in a Catch-22 situation like that someday.