(MoneyWatch) Are most young people ready for the working world? Not according to their mothers.
A new survey commissioned by McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union shows that moms are worried about their children's future independence:
- 49 percent of moms believe their children are unprepared to get a job
- 44 percent believe their children will not be able to finance college
- 33 percent believe their children are "not at all prepared" to save money or live on their own
Only about one-third of mothers think that their children under age 18 are ready for their financial future. Of course, if it's not parents taking the lead in preparing their children for the future, who should it be? The church, our neighbors? And as critical as education is, schools can only do so much.
In addressing such concerns, McGraw-Hill recommends remedies such as giving children an allowance so they can learn to manage money and learn the true cost of things. It also advises teaching children about credit cards and interest and the like.
This is obviously sound advice, since if your kids don't understand how a credit card works they are likely to think it provides an unlimited supply of money. But I'd like to speak to the first point: The 49 percent of moms who believe their children are unprepared to get a job. If you are among this group (or are a dad of one of these kids) here is what you should be doing to help your children get prepared to enter the working world:
Buy them an alarm clock and expect them to use it. If you're waking up your teen and ensuring that she arrives at school on time every morning, you're actually doing a disservice. Teens need to start learning responsibility now. And this is a critical skill for adulthood. I know they are tired. I know school starts way too early for teens. Life stinks. It's time to get up.
Don't hover over the homework. I know, if she doesn't get an 'A' in AP Physics she'll never get into Harvard. (News flash: She's not getting into Harvard anyway.) Employers are looking for people who can work independently. It is better for your child to fail her seventh-grade science class so she can learn that she needs to do her homework, rather than fail at her first job because mom or dad isn't there to remind her to stay on task. And yes, it's even better that she fail AP Physics than it is to only get through because mom "helped" with homework every night.
Work, work and more work. Does your child have to do work around the house? Mow the lawn? Scrub the toilets? Does he do a good job? If he doesn't, do you make him re-do it? Yes, I know, you want your child to be a lawyer and lawyers don't have to clean toilets. (Ha!) The point is, that work is work and learning how to do a good job at an early age is a valuable skill. When your kid gets that first job at a fast food restaurant, he'll shine if he's the one that can clean the grill the first time around, without having to have a supervisor follow after and correct things. And, honestly? That job at a fast-food restaurant or mowing lawns or working retail gives him a leg up on his peers whose parents provided everything.
Place limits on electronics. Yes, teens (and many adults) are tied to their smartphones, tablets and other gadgets (I'll plead the 5th on that.) However, good employees know that sometimes the phone needs to be switched off and put into a pocket or purse and ignored. Employers aren't looking for people who are skilled at posting videos on Vine or who can post the most frequent Twitter updates. They are looking for people to work. To start, require all electronic devices be turned off at dinner. (And that includes mom and dad.) It's good practice for the workplace.
Remove kids from the center of the universe. Ever heard of an entry-level job? They aren't glamorous, often involve a lot of boring things, and no one takes your opinion seriously. It's also part of working your way up. The reason no one takes your opinion seriously is because you first have to prove that you should be listened to. If your child is the center of the universe in her own mind, she'll be easily disheartened when she starts work and suddenly discovers that no one is listening to her great ideas. The problem is that without experience, that great idea probably doesn't have the facts to back it up.