Recent studies have shown that over the past decade a majority of emerging adults continue to suffer from poor financial literacy, a growing trend that shows few signs for improvement. In order for young and emerging adults to be properly prepared to grow, adapt, be successful, and financially independent in this century of uncertainty, there must be a concerted effort now to incorporate personal development into their education and consciousness. It should come as no surprise that most are ill-prepared to become financially independent as the majority of their parents and teachers also lack the needed knowledge to impart this crucial financial information. Beyond the financial information many have missed out on, personal development for many emerging adults has also been hindered because they were taught to only ask, “how” and not, “why.” This has resulted in a world of “how” for them — “Just tell me how to get the job” or “how to make money” or “how to do this and I will just do it.” The “how” approach to thinking epitomizes status quo! There is no creativity in how.
As I have mentioned in several of my blogs, unfortunately young and emerging adults today have not been encouraged to ask “why”, which has affected their personal development. Many changes over the years have conspired to cripple our youths’ ability to think theoretically. Specifically, standardized testing and lack of foundational education (financial, self-esteem, time-management, etc.) by teachers and parents, along with society in general, have established that the only approach to thinking that’s necessary is a practical approach.
As a result, most practically minded young and emerging adults have simply become programmed to avoid mistakes or refrain from trying something new in their pursuits to “just get it done.” They are rarely encouraged to think creatively in new and different ways—“outside the box.” One teacher explained to Alina Tugend, author of the New York Times article, “The Roles of Mistakes in the Classroom,” that young children have become “victims of excellence.” In her book, Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, Tugend shares some enlightening research on the crucial role parents play in how their children learn and what messages they take away about mistakes. Not only did these adults do a disservice to this generation by unintentionally failing to disclose needed financial information, but these parents also fostered a fear of making mistakes within their children.
The generational backlash from the parents in being overprotective of their children was created by their own laissez faire, hands off, “latch key” upbringing. Consequently, swearing years later that “they’d do better with their own children,” this older generation has ruthlessly hovered over their children’s experiences and problems in an attempt to shelter them from life’s pains and struggles. In reality, the major outcome of their overprotective behavior has been the crippling of their child’s ability to develop tools for handling and managing life’s inherent struggles. Therein lies the irony: the biggest mistake these parents have made is the mistake of not teaching their kids that it is okay to make mistakes!
Today, these “Helicopter Parents” find themselves in financial and personal turmoil, largely due to a lack of financial knowledge and planning created by their own teachers and parents before them. These challenges were largely created by the current economic and social changes brought on by a new era of technological globalization. Is it any wonder why young and emerging adults are choosing to question and challenge the unsustainable lifestyles they were raised to believe they’d inherit in light of the societal shifts created by rapid technological advances and a constant state of change and urgency?
Young and emerging adults have been perceived as possessing “high-maintenance” and “entitled” attitudes by the very generations (Boomers and Xers) that have raised them to believe that they could get whatever they wanted. According to Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets A Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y, employers in today’s workplace believe that young adults are now harder to recruit, retain, and motivate than previous generations who entered the workforce before them. Tulgan adds, “They walk in the door day one with very high expectations. They walk into the workplace thinking they know more than they know, and they don’t want to pay their dues and climb the ladder.”
When I was a young adult growing up in the 1970s, life was always fair—winners received trophies and losers gained important insights from their mistakes. Mistakes allow people to look at new challenges in different ways and then draw their own conclusions from the lessons learned. To break the cycle of crippling entitlement, “Helicopter Parents” would raise more empowered adults if they stopped teaching their children that they can’t make it in life without them, or that they are too helpless to figure things out on their own. It’s time for these parents to let go and let their children live life on their own terms.
In my new book, Demystifying Success: Success Tools and Secrets They Don’t Teach You in High School, I endeavor to fill in the educational gaps for young and emerging adults (and their “Helicopter Parents”) by proactively educating them not to be afraid to ask “why”. My goal is for young adults to seek theoretically-driven outcomes that foster creativity and empower them to continually find new or improved ways to produce their desired results—while not letting fear get the best of them. I believe that if you have a group of young, confident adults who are not afraid to ask “why” because they are either not worried about the response they are going to get back or that somebody will think they are stupid by asking “why,” they will be much more likely to be successful in their lives.
“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” ~ John Burroughs
I invite you to ask me questions here at Larry@LarryMJacobson.com if you are an admitted “Helicopter Parent” who is either afraid to let go or not sure how to—or if you are the child of one of these parents who wants to find ways to help your parent let go of you. I also invite young and emerging adults to inquire further about the “power of why”, as well as my T.I.M.E. (Timing, Intentions, Motivation and Empowerment) Model toward growing your future success.