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National News

Friday, 14 September, 2007 11:03 AM

Are Today's Parents Raising a Generation of Slackers?

They’ve been raised in an age of excess consumption, where plastic surgery and flashy cars are doled out as high school graduation gifts. Some experts say catering to kids’ self-esteem instead of teaching them about responsibility has left them poorly equipped to deal with adulthood. Armed with cell phones, laptops and their parents’ cash, they have a sense of entitlement like no generation before them. Many have never rolled up their sleeves for physical labor or held a job. And the number of teens working summer jobs this year is the lowest since the government started collecting data back in 1948—only 39.6% of American teens aged 16 to 19 worked summer jobs this year according to the Department of Labor.

While the same research also showed more students enrolled in school over the summer, many parents are frustrated. They lament their children’s expectation of having everything handed to them. Fueled by reality TV shows that feature decadent lifestyles and Sweet 16 birthday parties that rival the lavishness of royal weddings, many kids believe the good things in life should be theirs for the taking—with no concept of actually working for them.

Dr. Terry Noble, a self-made success story and author of the new book, “Starting at Sea Level,” (Foggy River Books, 2007) shares the parents’ concerns. He believes today’s generation would benefit from doing some real work. “My father taught me to work and gave me responsibility as soon as I was ready to handle it,” says Noble. “By age nine I was feeding 5000 chickens daily. At 14, I was operating a 31’ commercial crab boat. At 16, I owned a farming operation and was saving for college. What I learned from him allowed me to retire at 52.”

“Starting at Sea Level” recounts Noble’s upbringing in Oriole, Maryland, a small Chesapeake Bay fishing village. Many of the men in Oriole earned their livings harvesting the sea or farming the land. Noble learned the value of a hard day’s work as a boy. He grew to respect the farmers and seaman who toiled at physically challenging and often dangerous jobs. He believes teaching work ethic and responsibility at a young age can instill life-long values.

“Too many kids today are being coddled, accomplishing nothing and conning their parents into taking care of them until they are thirty,” says Noble. “We need to show kids from an early age that we have expectations of them. Elementary age children are capable of learning to do chores around the house and the responsibility level should increase as they mature.”

Children and teens benefit in many ways from work. They learn responsibility, prepare for future jobs, and earn their own incomes. Noble believes there’s another benefit to teaching kids physical labor such as yard work, caring for animals and helping with chores: reducing childhood obesity. “I understand the world has changed since I was a kid,” says Noble. “But there’s always some work that can be done around the house or yard, or for the neighbors or at a local, small business. Getting kids off the sofa and performing age-appropriate tasks can help burn calories and improve their physical health. Plus, it gives them a sense of accomplishment that sports can’t provide.”

That sense of accomplishment is often the prime motivator many kids need. Noble points to the satisfaction he felt when he began raising livestock to pay his way through college. “I gained a sense of worthiness by earning my own money,” says Noble. “I also learned how it felt to have those animals depend on me. The most life-changing aspect was that my livestock enterprise allowed me to meet a young veterinarian who inspired me to follow in his footsteps.”


Starting at Sea Level
by Terry Noble
304 pp., Hardback $24.95 US
Publisher: Foggy River Books, 2007

Available at,, or by calling 1-888-651-1113


About the Author:

Dr. Terry Noble grew up in Oriole, MD, a Chesapeake Bay fishing village.
He comes from a long line of watermen and boat builders and built his first boat when he was just 10 years old. Noble was the first in his family to attend college. He earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland and a D.V.M. from the University of Georgia.

He paid his own way through college with money he earned operating his own livestock farm as a teenager. It was during those teenage years that he met a young veterinarian who inspired Noble to follow in his footsteps.

After 12 years of veterinary practice in Colorado and Maryland, Noble founded Central Biologics, a company devoted to the research and manufacture of animal vaccines. In 1997 he and his wife sold the company and moved to a ranch in Montana. They still spend part of the year in Maryland beside the river where Noble grew up.

Noble says his grandfather, Willie Thomas, was one of the greatest influences in his life. Captain Willie was a life-long waterman who never owned a car or a television.

Source: Event Management Services, Inc.



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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.