Preparing kids for the future

Sending Amanda off with her new husband last month made the speed of the parenting journey very obvious to me.  Granted, there are sleepless nights that seem to last forever.   But the years…they roar by.  Then suddenly you’re left watching them drive away, and all you can do is hope you’ve taught them all that they need to get along– or at least the most crucial bits.

Our Amanda is the level-headed sort, and has plenty of knowledge and ability. But since she left, I’ve been thinking even more about life preparation we are giving our younger ones.  The day we sent Amanda off, John and I went to the bookstore, where I happened across a book called Ready or Not, Here Life Comes.  With Amanda on my mind, I grabbed the book.  Last week I finally had time to read it, and wow, am I glad I did!   It is full of practical, specific ways to help kids thrive in the working world.   I found myself making tons of notes, and planning some more intentional discussions with kids– both to prepare the kids, and make me aware of what they don’t yet know.

The other day while driving down a busy road with one of my 10 year olds, we started talking about the recession.   I asked him to guess which businesses were hardest hit by the recession (ie, which ones are least essential to life?)  My son could identify some of the businesses, and correctly guessed that a grocery store would probably be less hurt by a bad economy than a fancy restaurant.  But many other businesses were a mystery to him.   For example, what kind of business is a “Money Tree”?  I ended up scaling the conversation back to a simpler level than I’d first imagined I would, but filled in some holes in his knowledge bank– and also got to warn him of the hazards of utilizing the services of a store named “Money Tree”!

Another moment: The other day on the way to a medical appointment with one of my grade school kids,  we discussed what the doctor needed to know. Then I role-played the conversation with my often-shy child.  Going over the content of the discussion ahead of time  turned out to be excellent prep for the questions that were coming, allowing the child to navigate a good portion of the discussion without me, in a clear and complete way.  Sure, it would have been quicker for me to guide the conversation as I tend to usually do, but kids need this skill for the future. I’m going to try to do that more often.

At lunch a few days ago I talked with the kids about another point mentioned in the book– things that bosses assume, but don’t specifically mention when they hire you: for example,  that you’ll work cheerfully, help others out even if it is not your job, respect the boss, do work completely, etc.  According to the book, lots of young people these days hit the working world not understanding these types of ‘obvious’ things.  (A side benefit of that particular discussion is that I’ve decided not to feel like a nag for expecting cheery, thorough, willing work– I am simply preparing kids for the future!)

I’m planning to cover other highlights of the book in lunchtime conversations over the next few weeks.  I think sometimes I’ll ask a ‘question of the day’.  Today I went around the table asking kids to list one strength each.  We then talked about how those strengths would be useful in the future. It was interesting meal time talk.  And I hope it might also leave our kids better able to envision the future — a future in which I’m praying they’ll possess all the tools they need to succeed.


  1. This looks like a book I need to read. I had no idea how hard parenting was until I became a parent. Thanks for the tip.

  2. This book sounds excellent. We try to prepare our kids for the future, but you mention areas I hadn’t thought of. (I demand thorough cheerful willing work too, although I don’t often get it 😉 Thanks for the tip.

  3. That sounds really interesting Mary. I think I need to work a little more on some of those things with my children also.

  4. Does your daughter have a blog? I know its none of our business, but if she writes as well as you it would be neat to see what she says about her life now. I am sure that you did a fabulous job raising her and she is doing a equally fabulous job as a wife.

  5. A quote from you, “(A side benefit of that particular discussion is that I’ve decided not to feel like a nag for expecting cheery, thorough, willing work– I am simply preparing kids for the future!)”

    And may I add my hearty “AMEN!!”


  6. This book sound like s good read. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to be intentional with our parenting. And as far as a cheerful heart, the Lord requires it of us so I feel we MUST require it from our children who have not yet made their own decisions about Christ!

  7. As an employer, can I just thank you from the bottom of my heart for teaching a good work ethic?!! I am continually amazed at the attitude of the people in the work pool. We are finding one of the first questions to ask in an interview is about work ethic. I will put up with an employee’s lack of knowledge if they are punctual, have initiative, work hard and above all – are teachable. If you are arrogant and smart, you’re most likely gone. Team players are what we hire and I love hearing about your conversations and expectations of your kids. Our daughter is learning this in spades as she sees us struggle to find teachable, hard working employees.
    Kudos, Mary!

  8. I honestly love your blog.

  9. Thank you for sharing this – it sounds like a great book & a great idea to discuss these things with your kids! I always think example is a great teacher, too – as far as work ethic & respecting others & all. 🙂

  10. one of the skills i took out of working in special education in schools is that every child, even one’s without learning delays, can benefit from time spent previewing an event. we did it when our son was 2 months old going on his first plane ride. no kidding, i think it helped (but maybe that was me:)). now we do it no matter what we are doing. it gives kids confidence and anytime they can combine confidence, information and a positive outlook you’ve shot down most of the problems.

    Now to go order that book…

  11. Mary!

    I tried to reply to your e-mail, but the delivery failed. E-mail me again with your e-mail address and I’ll give it another go!

  12. Sounds great! We’ve tried to have these conversations but they usually end at “This will help you when you’re an adult.” Probably not the best end, but now I know where to look for more ideas!

  13. That sounds like an excellent book and what a good point about those expectations!!!