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Is My Kid Concerned Enough About the Future?

I remember a shocking parenting moment like it was yesterday. After a game, one of my kids forgot their new, expensive glove at the field. Despite multiple reminders, the glove was not in the backseat when we got home. We returned to the field to find an empty dugout—no glove. As we walked to the car, I heard a sweet little voice say, “Don’t worry, Dad. We’ll just buy a new one.”

Apparently, my concern about our family’s finances hadn’t gone downstream. 

There’s a years-long transition that must happen between parents and kids if we want them to be self-sufficient at some point. It’s a deliberate, iterative process. I’ve written quite a bit in the past about why it’s not helpful to tell our kids their lives will all work out ‘someday.’ I frequently have conversations with parents of late twenties who feel stuck because their kids are stuck with little job prospects and a lot of inertia holding them back from progress. 

Generationally speaking, parents today are more likely to consider their kids' emotions. To put it bluntly, we often care more about their feelings than anything else. We ask them how they feel about their teachers, their friends, coaches, and the school lunch menu. We don’t want them to feel bad, whether that’s anger, sadness, or discomfort. Frankly, we see their feelings as problems to be solved—by us. 

But parents who put too much emphasis on trying to solve the ‘negative’ emotions remove responsibility from them to resolve their own issues. Their growth is stunted and they don’t develop appropriately.

It’s helpful to intentionally raise our kids' level of concern about the future. Done properly, concern turns into action, ownership, and responsibility. It’s the kind of healthy, appropriate stress that psychologists would say induces growth. 

Carrying a serious concern without seeing your way forward will likely turn into anxiety—not a helpful ingredient in preparing for adulthood. I want my kids to have two things:

  1. High Concern: tomorrow might not work out how I prefer, so I better take action today. 
  2. High Hope: tomorrow will be better, and I have a key role to play in making it so. 

I want my kids to be concerned about their future and own that feeling. It’s their life, and their future is uncertain. In fact, what’s most likely today is that they will be 28 years old and underemployed—not because of an unfavorable job market, but because they lacked clarity and conviction early on. Nothing is certain, but if they can find a way to trust themselves and their abilities to keep maneuvering, I am confident that they will find their way. 

Our kids need emotional support and guidance toward the future. Doing it well means frequently bringing up the realities of what’s at stake—not to overwhelm them with stress or worry but to encourage appropriate ownership to keep moving forward. 

Bonus
: There’s a parenting style that works to foster this kind of attitude in kids. It’s called Authoritative Parenting, and research calls it the most effective way to raise your kids. Authoritative parenting is an intentional effort to give our kids heavy doses in two areas: nurture and challenge. We seek to provide emotional regulation and care for them while maintaining high expectations for behavior and outcomes. One without the other doesn’t turn out well.

All for the sake of kids,

Scott Schimmel
President & Chief Guide | The YouSchool
949.291.9061 | theyouschool.com

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