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Don’t Let Your Kid Take the Easy Path


Some parents see their kids with rose-colored glasses. Their children can do no wrong, as far as they’re concerned. Their potential is limitless, and they remind them of that constantly. But kids need more than cheerleading when it comes to making plans for the future. 

Other parents have a more realistic perspective of their kids' capabilities. We’ve been watching them the entire time and are very aware of their patterns of reaction and behavior. We’ve smelled their dirty bedrooms and washed out their moldy water bottles. 

Recently, I talked with the parents of a twenty-something kid still living at home. They wanted advice on how to spark some motivation in their kid. I asked about the backstory, and the one theme that stuck out was their regret for not pushing their son earlier. They felt bad for him whenever he had a difficult challenge and found themselves rescuing him repeatedly. They actually discouraged him from taking risks because they anticipated how terrible he would feel if he failed. 

As parents, a key part of your job description is pushing your kids to do difficult things. Good parents don’t let their kid’s feelings keep them from important, valuable activities. This starts with dropping them off at preschool despite their clinging, then taking them to piano lessons they don’t want to play and sitting down to work on their math assignments they get frustrated about. 

But when they transition to start pondering their future career options, it can be tempting to steer them towards safe, secure, and less tumultuous paths. After all, what’s at stake is much higher than whether or not they perform well at the holiday piano recital. Most notably, what’s at stake is their self-sufficiency and transferring them off our payroll. 

It’s tempting for me, too. When my son recently brought up the idea of pursuing finance, a big part of me wanted to celebrate and high-five him. Finance? Nobody worries about the teenager who sets his sights on finance. Guaranteed winner. 

I have to take an honest pause, though. What do I ultimately want for my kids? Chief among my hopes and prayers is that they will be financially independent and stable. Additionally, I want them to make a difference in the world, using their talents and energy. I also want them to grow in their talents, becoming better versions of themselves and, ultimately, reaching their potential. Now that we’re talking about it, I hope they have a great community of friends and marry amazing people. Also, if I’m being wishful, I hope they live close by and want me to coach their kid’s teams, too. It wouldn’t hurt if we had similar interests, either. 

I want a lot for my kids, and I bet you do, too. But if you had to rank them, what would be most important?

Although I’m not a big fan of negativity, imagining what we don’t want or even fear will happen can be helpful. That brings to mind, first and foremost, is seeing any of my kids as adults have financial success yet lack meaning. If I had to choose, I’d rather they lean into their potential and need my ongoing financial support than vice versa.

What about you?

As parents, a key part of your job description is pushing your kids to do difficult things. That doesn’t stop when they get older. Here’s the deal: your kids are full of potential but don’t know much about life yet. They need your constant support and need to be pushed from behind. The choices they face might feel scary, and that might tempt them to stall, hedge, or turn around and take the easier path. That’s your time to give them a hug and a kick in the pants. 

All for the sake of kids,

Scott Schimmel
President & Chief Guide | The YouSchool
949.291.9061 |

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