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Preparing Your Kids for the Real World

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.

— Abigail Van Buren

It is just common sense. I am no Dr. Phil with a PhD in Psychology. I am a wife, a mom, and a teacher, and I am worried about our future. Not so much because I think all our kids are bad or irresponsible, but because some parents are irresponsible. Kids become what their parents or surrounding adults teach them or don’t teach them.

Oh, I admit I have not been the best role model for my two children, but teaching them to use common sense and to stand on their own two feet have been major goals of the way my husband and I have raised them. We have made our share of mistakes and will continue to do so. For instance, we get angry with our kids if they behave like the world owes them something. That is partially our fault because they have never wanted for anything, but we have instilled a work ethic in them. We are quick to tell them, “No one owes you anything, and you must work for your place in this world.” Also, when we see this "the world owes me something for simply existing" attitude, we don’t just tell them to get busy earning their place. We talk to them about how they should achieve it, and we share personal experiences from our lives with them. Kids think parents are so archaic with no clue and seem shocked when they hear something they can relate to in us.

From a Teacher's Perspective

As a high school teacher I see this “the world owes me something for simply existing” attitude quite often. I tell my students the same thing I tell my kids about having good work ethic, but my students are not always as receptive. Do not get me wrong, we have some great kids with great work ethics, but we also have those kids who fall back on their parents to get them through a sticky situation. Parents are doing their kids no favors by fighting their battles. Whatever happened to the days of “if you are in trouble at school, you are in trouble at home, too”?

Educators do not choose the teaching profession for the money and, even though they have years of higher education and much real world experience, there are still parents who treat teachers as second class citizens, especially if little Johnny or Abbi didn’t get his or her points on a sloppy job they did on a project the night before though it was assigned three weeks earlier.

As parents, what are we teaching our kids when we fight to allow them to turn something in late when they had every chance to do it in class or plenty of time before the assignment is due?

What are we teaching our kids when they show disrespect to others and we stand by them?

What are we teaching our kids about authority when we barge in and fight against authority even when we KNOW our kids are wrong?

What are we teaching our kids when we place them above all else when they have not deserved the position of honor?

If kids see their parents fighting battles for them when parents know they are wrong, aren’t they going to think their parents will always take care of their problems and give into a life of mediocre morals? Aren’t they given a false sense of security that is worthless in the real world? Aren’t they being set up for failure or a long, rough road of disappointment in life?

Sometimes, as hard as it is to discipline and say no, it is just as hard to watch our kids knowing they are making a mistake. Isn't it better, in many cases, to stand back so the kid will have to take ownership of his/her mistake and accept the consequences.

Parenting is not for pushovers.

Parents Must Have a Backbone

Then we have parents who don’t want to be parents.

They either don’t pay attention to their kids, give no encouragement, give no direction, and/or possibly kick their kids out of the home because they can’t handle them. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

Even if a high school kid is 18 years old and has a job, what message is being passed along if a parent kicks the kid out to fend for themselves? Even animals know how to care for their young and know when to let them go. Parents who kick their children out before they are ready to face the world are just as immature and incompetent as their offspring. Parents must teach kids how to live in the world: survival skills. Parents who give up on their kids need to realize they are the adults, and they need to take control of what is happening to their child. Strength and a sturdy backbone

As a side note, if a "kid" is 30 years old, not working, or is working at a dead-end job and still partying or just laying around, while still living at home, it's time to have the backbone to tell the kid to get out. Parents have to choose the right time to cut the cord. It is a timing issue. You can't cut it too soon, and you can't let it go too long.

Some parents need to stop with the "I want my kid to have more than I did." In most cases, kids do have more than their parents because their parents spoil them by spending money and giving them all they want. That seems to be a prescription to gaining a 30-year-old child/adult lying on the couch in the future because that child peaked early and doesn't want to do anything else. The child has everything the parent worked for but nothing that they worked for.

Kids Are Going to be Kids

Kids will get away with whatever they are allowed to get away with if parents don’t step up with some discipline, love, consistency, attention, and encouragement. It is not rocket science; it is common sense, but it is also easier said than done.

Kids are going to be a challenge, but parents did bring them into this world and need to take responsibility. Some people do a better job of training their pets than they do of teaching their children.

Teach Kids How to Live in a Better Future

Our kids have to face the world, and sometimes its an ugly place. It is up to parents to prepare them for the good and the bad.

How many of us want to support our kids “until death do us part?" I married my husband for that role in my life, and I had our children to love and to care for and to feel joy in my life. The least I can do is take responsibility for them by trying to teach them how to be productive members of society. I want them to have joy in their life, but they can't have that if they do not appreciate the simple things in life and are always expecting more.

If we work on our children as much as we do on other passions in our lives, maybe our world’s future will become more stable. As adults, we cannot blame our kids for all of their wrongdoing. We must either step up and be the responsible adult or suffer the consequences as a society. Our kids grow up and start making choices too. What do we want for our senior years? For our grandchildren and their children? It is up to today’s parents to bring in a brighter future even if that means showing some tough love and lots of compassion for our kids. Both actions can coexist. Be someone your kid is going to respect and want to VISIT later in life.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Susan Holland


Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 04, 2013:

Thanks, SGBROWN!! I am now an empty nester, too. I know what you mean about your daughter. Mine is the same; she seems braver and much more independent than I was. I am glad, but in some ways it is a little scary. I trust her, though. I believe she left home with a good sense of right and wrong and a strong work ethic. I think we did all right... :-)

Thanks so much for dropping by, voting, and sharing!! :-)

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on August 04, 2013:

My kids are all grown and have children of their own. I spent time with my kids and was a pretty good mom and step-mom. I have always felt that manners and respect were very important and taught them how to behave. I tried to instill independence in our daughter and sometimes I think she is more independent than I like! You have some great information here and I wish every parent would read this. Voting up, useful, interesting and sharing in many places. Have a wonderful day!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on November 17, 2012:

Hi Abby! Life experiences are so important. What you have learned, I am sure you are passing on to your kids. :-)

Abby Malchow from Ripon, Wisconsin on November 16, 2012:

I grew up with a single mom of two in Los Angeles in the 80s and then my dad's upper middle class in the 90s...I learned both ways and I also learned that I wouldn't take back being poor...I learned so much more about life in many ways...

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on November 16, 2012:

Hi Abby! Sounds like you have a great boy. My mom raised me and my brothers and sisters alone, too. Finances were tough. Growing up is tough, and being a parent is tough. We just have to do the best we can for our kids, and it seems you are doing just that.

Good luck and take care! :-)

Abby Malchow from Ripon, Wisconsin on November 15, 2012:

I asked my 13-year-old son, who asks for everything I can't afford and has no concept of money because we made the mistake when I was married to his dad on giving him everything and anything because we could. I am a single mother of four going to college and living with family until I can be successful and independent and raise my kids without a man, if he wanted a big christmas...or if he would be okay with a small one so we could use the money we get in December and right after my finals drive down to Kansas to see his godparents, my godkids, and my friend from Germany that is deploying in January to Afghanastan...I was shocked and very proud when he said a small Xmas and to go down there.

I was happy and proud that even though he wanted a 5th generation, brand new Ipod that cost 400 dollars, but I could only afford a 90 dollar generation 1 used Ipod, that he was appreciative.

I have just gotten him back this summer after he lived with his father for six years and he is starting high school soon and is being bullied because of the jealous boys that don't like how much attention he gets from the girls. I have established open and honest communication over the last six years and he has come to me about everything; including the bullying, and letting me report it and I spend time with him playing Guitar Hero as I can't play anything else lol...I take him with me to do things one on one...I will watch a ridiculous stupid funny show with him I hate but laugh anyway because he likes it.

He was an angry kid from stuff with his dad when I got him back and all of a sudden stopped saying I love you to me and it broke my heart as he was so depressed he was telling me he hates me that he only lives his father because I was the only one there for him with no acceptions. I was devestated and cried because I didn't know what changed. But, a few months later he has started laughing with me again and trusting me and when he said he wanted to do something as a family instead of getting gifts I wanted to fall to my knees and thank God for hearing my prayers. He finally said I love you too mom the other night...and I am close to the hugs coming back.

It isn't about the gifts and the I think that feel alone and are ignored by their parents as mine did with his father...a father that chose to marry a women that my son begged him not to for reasons his father didn't listen..said I can't do this anymore dad if you marry her I will move in with mom and not come back...his dad married her anyway and here he is...I don't date...I listen to him...I won't unless he is ready emotionally...and he sees now that he is what matters and doesn't need to have material items bought for him to feel his parent still cares.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on November 15, 2012:

Thanks, Bizwin! It really does matter what the kid hears from adults in his or her life. They do what the "know" to do, and sometimes the signals from adults are mixed. Kids are much more intelligent than some give them credit, and they soak up everything. As parents, we have to make sure it is sound advice for life with strict guidelines to live and survive in this world.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on November 15, 2012:

Hi Tammy! I agree about our younger generation feeling entitled. Not all, but many do take things for granted that may or may not be there for them in the future - I hope that made sense.

Parents have the power to help their kids by giving guidelines and realistic expectations. I did the same as you with my kids - they had to be accountable for their actions, and they knew that was what I expected. I, too, disagreed with authoritative adults at times because there are some who are either too hard lined or some who will come down on a kid just because the kid doesn't fit a mold.

Thanks so much for dropping by! :-)

Theresa D from England, UK on November 15, 2012:

Great, great hub sholland10. Kids are like this, 'what you put in is what you get out'. There is no magic to it. A simple message of how they should react or respond to life matters will save them a lot of problems in the future. Kids will always be kids no doubt. But what are the messages going into them each hour or day, these will shape them into what they will become in the future.

Tammy from North Carolina on November 15, 2012:

Excellent ideas on parenting. I really feel for teachers and I know I for one could never be one. I always made sure that my boys were held accountable for misbehaving in school and otherwise, except for one occassion when I disagreed with a principal. It is really scary to think that today's young people will one day inherit the world. It seems that most children have a serious sense of entitlement, just as the nation on a whole has the same sense. This is a great way to open the door to discussion!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on November 14, 2012:

Hi GoodLady! I think kids - even adults - want guidelines. They want to know what the rules are so they can live productive lives. Plus, we are helping them with their moral compass if we care enough to set those rules and guidelines.

Sometimes it is going to be a fight, but it is worth it when we get to see them succeeding.

Thanks for dropping by!! :-)

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on November 14, 2012:

Don't you hate it when parents treat you (the teacher) like a second class person? grgrgrg Worse still when it's the kids who treat you that way.

I so agree about being firm. My sons love me so much today and I was always firm with them (well until they were teenagers and that didn't work to well, but they KNEW what was supposed to be going down by then and they were just being teenagers). Good on you for writing this, it's all true and it's all helpful.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 26, 2012:

Hi Phil! Yeah, if we are their "friends" while we are raising them, the lines get confused and we lose the parenting factors that they need.

I will say that now that my son is married and out of the house, it is nice to be his friend and his mom. We truly enjoy our time together. He is a great guy who works hard, and he still wants to come home to see Mom and Dad. That is our reward. :-)

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on August 25, 2012:

I do not ever intend to be the 'best friend' of my children. I spend as much time as I can with them. I don't know if it is enough, but we do what we can.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Wendi, even as a teacher, I have had a few run ins myself... I agree that what the parent says goes. There are some motives I question with a few parents. I am going on 21 years as a teacher. I love the kids and parents who are involved. I worry about the kids whose parents never show up. I worry about the kids I know are "couch hopping" because they can't go home. I don't get it. There have been some I have wanted to rescue, but all I can do is tell the appropriate authorities. We have some wonderful kids out there who just need to be recognized by their parents for who they are. So, no need to apologize at all. Parents do need to step up and parent. It is hard, but that is our job.

Since my mother was a single mother and very strict and since I am a military wife who had to make most of the parental day-to-day decisions, I have been strict, too. It has paid off. I think I have great, productive kids who I love having around. There were "bouts" when I was in the middle of raising them, but they have come back to me (not to live, just to visit - lol), and I am very proud of them. In my job, I love the kids and think each day that I may be the only caring adult who shows them attention and cares about what they do (along with their other teachers).

Sounds like you have as many years in with your kids and volunteering and daycare as I have had. I am the last of eight, and I love my big family. Until my mother's death, we all went home to see her. She was always "home" to us. Also, as brothers and sisters, we like each other and make time for each other - my mom did that. :-)

Thanks so much for coming back. I enjoy learning about what other parents/teachers are going through, too. :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Carly, you said it! Those every day things that bog us down cause us to let some things slide. Those are the times we have to be strong and be attentive to our kids. They are caught up in the chaos of life, too.

Thanks so much for dropping by! :-)

@MTC, thanks for the comment and dropping by!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Hi Girls! Parenting is so hard. It's hard to say no and it's hard to say yes. We know what we should do, but sometimes we don't.

I am sure your kids will be back to see you as adults. If they move away, I hope they are wealthy and can pay for your trip. LOL

Thanks for dropping by and voting up! :-)

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Hey Josh! Thanks for the support! I know you are going to be a great parent one day. :-)

Thanks for dropping by!

wendi_w from Midwest on August 12, 2012:

Thank you Sholland, I get along with most of the kids teachers , there have been a few though.... I completely understand your point and agree ( I apologize if it didn't seem that way) , I was playing devil's advocate a bit and encouraging parents to parent .. in all things. I see many parents simply agreeing with the teachers or administration because they are the teacher and so they must know best. Parenting means that in all regards we are the last word. I don't envy your job, I owned a day care for over 5 years though, and have been cub scout leader, 4h leader ,and ccd teacher I know what you go through to do what you do. Honestly all the volunteer work, all the years in day care , the kids were the greatest experience , the parents though were ultimately the reason I left moved on. I commend you for being able to stick with it.

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 12, 2012:

Wendi, I believe our kids have to go through their own mistakes, too. I have two kids, 26 and 19. They have both done their share of rebelling and making mistakes. Their common sense has kicked in - thank goodness. It is as hard as a parent to sit back and wait to see what happens.

You are correct. Just as in any profession there are bad teachers and administrators. They need to be confronted. That type of situation was not what I was talking about, though (that's a whole different hub - lol). Speaking as a teacher, you are my favorite type of parent - you care and have legitimate concerns and we work together on behalf of your child's success. I enjoy talking to parents like you, even if there is a misunderstanding on my part or on the parent's part. I love parent advocates when their kids are doing their best, not trying to get something for nothing. Big difference. Sounds like you have done a wonderful job with your kids. :-)

Thanks for dropping by!

MomsTreasureChest on August 12, 2012:

Great suggestions and insight for parents!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 10, 2012:


I hate the discipline part,too! It's the hardest part, but it is what shows our kids the guidelines. It would be nice to JUST have fun with them or easy just to ignore them, but we can't do those things if we want them to have a good future.

Parenting is the most wonderful job and the hardest job at the same time. I told my kids the same thing that you told your girls.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on August 10, 2012:

Great job on this hub. It is a good reminder for all parents. We get stuck in the day to day rut, that we forget how important our roles are to these little ones.

Theresa Ventu from Los Angeles, California on August 10, 2012:

Very good message to all parents. Successful children make us proud and the opposite makes us sad. Parenting is the noblest profession in the world and I wish they visit me often later in life... or pay for my trips too (just kidding). Voted up!

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on August 10, 2012:


I definitely agree with everything you have said here! This was very informative and you presented the facts clearly!

"Even if a high school kid is 18 years old and has a job, what message is being passed along if a parent kicks the kid out to fin for themselves? Even animals know how to care for their young and know when to let them go."

I may not be a parent yet, but this was a profound statement Sue! Thanks for sharing your viewpoints here; I am right there with you on this issue!

wendi_w from Midwest on August 10, 2012:

I agree with you, but as the mother of 6 children ( three grown and three teens) it is not always that easy. As late teens almost all have went through a rebellion stage and sometimes the best thing you can do is just wait for the common sense , you hopefully taught them as youngsters, to kick back in. I have never stuck of for my children when they were wrong , I always expect and demand they treat me and others with respect, many of the kids teachers do not like me though either. I will not be bullied by the school into accepting their assessment of a situation and I will not allow a teacher or administrator to treat me or them disrespectfully. In all things I am the parent and I will make the final decision, period. I have personally witnessed some widely inappropriate unprofessional comments by teachers. Teachers need to held to certain standard too. Most of the kids teachers have been great but parenting is parenting it means to not only parent your child but to be their advocate as well. Your article carries an important message though that needs to be stated.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 10, 2012:

Oh you know how I feel about this. So many children these days are so spoiled...and from volunteering in the office 2 days a week for a couple years I have gotten an eye full.

Kids need to learn to behave by the rules and if they don't start this practice young - the parents are going to have a life of hell when the kids get older. Then when they are supporting them when they are in their late 20's and 30's - it will be a bit too late.

I don't like the discipline part of being a parent - it's my least favorite part. I tell my girls this - it is MY job to raise them so that they can go out into the world and survive and know how to conduct themselves in the proper manner. It sucks...but it is one of my most important functions as a parent.

Excellent read!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 10, 2012:

Thanks Bill! It amazes me to see parents sticking up for their kids when they know their kid is wrong. They just want their kid to get credit for doing the minimum.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2012:

Bravo! This needed to be said and I'm glad you said it. As a former teacher, I was appalled by the lack of parenting I saw, or the over-protective b.s. I saw.....I sure hope a lot of parents read this and internalize it. Great job Susan!

Susan Holland (author) from Southwest Missouri on August 10, 2012:

Thank you, Roxanne! I am so glad you find it helpful. I appreciate you dropping by and sharing! :-)

Roxanne Lewis from Washington on August 10, 2012:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have some invaluable advice and wonderful points in here. I am sharing this everywhere I can. :)