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.