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
“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
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