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Weekly Reader 3.28.11

Gen Y:  Optimistic or Pessimistic about Jobs?

In an op-ed piece, “Educated, Unemployed and Frustrated,” last week, Matthew C. Klein, a 24-year-old research associate, expressed pessimism about well-educated, motivated young people finding good career-starter employment.   There’s a reason so  many have “boomeranged” home:  They simply can’t find work, and some are becoming pessimistic about the long-term outlook.  Mr. Klein writes,

The millions of young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future. They are indefinitely postponing the life they wanted and prepared for; all that matters is finding rent money. Even if the job market becomes as robust as it was in 2007 — something economists say could take more than a decade — my generation will have lost years of career-building experience.

His words are echoed in a blog post today by author Barbara Ray,  who we interviewed in a previous post. Ms. Ray is working on a second book about Gen Y’s experiences, emerging from the recession.  While she finds many young people optimistic, she’s not sure, like Mr. Klein, those feelings are warranted:

To be honest, I’m worried about this generation. I know that we’ve had recessions before, but there’s rumblings out there that this recession is different–it’s not just a cyclical recession, one that will bounce back and reabsorb all those laid-off workers. Some are saying we’re experiencing a “structural” shift–which leaves much deeper scars and a more lasting change. While our interviews with young people to date have uncovered their optimistic side (“I don’t think it’s true that we won’t do better than our parents,” they say adamantly; “If we just work hard, we’ll succeed.”), I’m not so sure their optimism will hold.

Land the Helicopter!

We all know that helicopter parenting does not help adult children learn to grow and flourish.  But it’s hard to land and walk away, hoping they forge their own path.  Author Christine Hassler offers several tips in “Cockpit Parents: How They’re Flying 20-Somethings into the Ground.” It might not be the smoothest of landings–because your child might be angered by some of these moves–but it will help them become independent adults.

  • Don’t be an enabler. A huge temptation, even expectation, exists for parents to provide for their children in every way.
  • Stop saving them. Cockpit parents like to throw on their superhero capes and rush in to problem solve or save their children from making mistakes. What this has created is a bunch of 20-somethings who are terrified of failure.
  • Your money is not their money So just because you have the money to help them out, it does not mean that you should. As long as you continue to do so, you are impacting their ability to self-generate and possibly putting your own retirement plans at risk.
  • Ask, don’t answer. It is time to stop telling them what to do. When they come to you for advice, guide them into finding their own answers.
  • Get your own life. Please don’t be their friend on Facebook and comment on all their photos. Give them some space, and find your own as well. Let them be who they are, and discover who you are.

The Isolation of the Cell

When was the last time you chatted with one of your child’s friends on the phone? Grade school?  Seriously, with texting and cell phones, the home phone  never rings except with solicitation calls. Even is we’re sitting right next to our adult children, all we hear are one-sided conversations and watch as our kids text away to Godzilla for all we know.  Apparently it’s considered quite rude to ask “Who are you texting?”

A Wall Street Journal article “When Twittering Gets in the Way of Real Life” reminds us that there was a time when we would converse—at least for a few minutes—with our parents’  friends. In another era our social network was not so isolated.  Journalist Katherine Rosman’s husband objected to the anonymous texting and cell calls during their evenings at home.  Although Ms. Rosman is not about to give up her phone, she does wistfully recall:

When I was growing up, my mom talked on the phone to her friends, Carol, Linda and Nanci. They called and when I answered, I spoke to them too, responding to their questions about school and softball. I heard Mom talking to them endlessly about who was playing golf with whom and who was up for a power walk. Those friendships echoed from the kitchen; they were a part of the family fabric. Mine are private. And as we tell our 5-year-old, when you tell secrets in front of people, it can hurt their feelings.

A Film to  Catch

Documentary filmmaker Doug Block charted his daughter Lucy’s life on video from babyhood to leaving for college and turned the saga into a movie.  While “The Kids Grow Up” is not playing at the local multiplex, you might catch it over the next month or so as it’s playing in several East Coast cities, including  in New York City on April 26.

The film is as much about Block coming to terms with his own growing older as it is with his daughter’s growing up.  The Washington Post notes in a recent review:

As “The Kids Grow Up” takes its twists and turns throughout the year, it becomes more clearly evident that the film isn’t about Lucy at all but about confronting the larger looming issues of aging, mortality and the meaning of marital intimacy. As Block’s father says at one point, the hardest part of the empty nest is being “faced with your own life.” …[His wife], A wise, unflappable law professor, Marjorie greets her husband’s increasing anxiety over Lucy’s impending departure with frank equanimity, at one point asking whether his distress has less to do with missing Lucy than “what the rest of your life is going to look like.”

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