The blessings of the Great Recession For Our Children
Many of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were heroes. They either started from tough economic circumstances or even more impressively came to America with nothing. They worked, and worked, and worked. They did so to provide for a better life for their families.
You and your children are the economic beneficiaries of their hard work. Or, you might be the hero of your families' lineage.
Most suburban children are economically privileged by any standard. But, compared to the conditions of their ancestors, they are, in material terms, princes and princesses.
This affluence has come at a steep price. Challenge forges character. Many kids - up until the last few years - took economic abundance of granted. Most did not appreciate the work it took - from both their parents and those further up the family tree - to create their economic abundance.
A few years ago, I remember working with students from a nearby town in the Shoreline region of Connecticut that has a particularly wealthy population. Many of the students received brand new cars for their birthdays. And, the cars were some variation of Lexus, BMW, Mercedes or similar flavor. That was not the problem - or at least the big problem. The real issue was that they would refer to those less fortunate as having "ghetto cars."
It took a great deal of composure to restrain myself. As I was overhearing a conversation, I said nothing. Had I been able to calmly respond, I would started by asking the kids how much they worked in order to contribute to the purchase.
To many of these kids, material abundance wonder has magically appeared. The connection to work and economic success is simply missing. The Great Recession will shake many of our children out of such complacency.
I see the benefits already. Many students are working harder in school, realize that their good grades and homework have some greater connection to life purpose, and understand the generosity of their parents who are paying for tutoring and test prep. In addition, many students are not simply assuming that college is something that is paid for their parents.
While I feel badly for those that have had tougher situations, such as the unemployment of a parent, I firmly believe that the lessons that they get from the challenge will ultimately serve them well.